Three Ways Reality TV Interventions Aren’t Realistic

Three Ways Reality TV Interventions Aren’t Realistic

Reality TV interventions focus on the dramatic side of the intervention process

The popularity of reality television shows can often present a distorted image of interventions. Interventions are used to help those struggling with drug or alcohol addiction see that they have a problem and get into an appropriate treatment program. This process can make for compelling television, especially when it is sensationalized in the way of most reality shows. But the actual intervention process can be very different from what is seen on TV. Understanding how intervention works and how what is seen on the screen isn’t realistic can help you help your loved one when it comes to planning and carrying out an intervention.

Addiction Intervention Explained

The Mayo Clinic defines intervention as a carefully planned event involving family, friends, a physician and a licensed alcohol or drug counselor. An intervention is directed by a professional interventionist who guides family members and friends through the process and also helps to place the addicted person in an appropriate treatment program.

Planning an intervention requires putting together a team of friends, loved ones and those the addicted person respects. Once you have your team together, your professional interventionist will help you rehearse what you will say during the meeting. This often includes how the addiction has affected you and your relationship with the addicted person. Intervention team members are encouraged to be loving yet firm, leaving the addicted loved one in no doubt of his or her need for help. The goal of the intervention is to get your loved one into treatment immediately, leaving no open door for a change of heart. Your interventionist will then help you get you find a treatment program and get your loved one admitted.

It is possible to plan and carry out your own intervention, but using the services of a professional is strongly recommended. Professional interventionists have the experience necessary to help you choose the right time and place for the intervention. Using a professional also increases the likelihood of intervention success.

The Un-Reality of Reality Interventions

Reality TV interventions focus on the dramatic side of the intervention process. You and your loved one’s intervention experience may not include all the emotional highs and lows that come with being in front of the camera. Interventions are emotional, but in real life, the loved ones organizing the intervention tend to keep a handle on themselves in order to bolster their chances at a successful intervention. The following three common ways reality show interventions aren’t realistic can help you and your family understand the process better as you prepare for your own:

  1. Reality shows focus on the tragedy of the addiction rather than the hope of recovery.

The entire point of intervention is to help your loved one recover. While it is important to understand the addiction and how you and your loved one got to this point, the most important part of the intervention is what happens afterwards. Reality shows spend most of their time walking viewers through the addiction and all the emotional ups and downs associated with substance abuse. Because of this, they tend to leave viewers there, rather than following the process all the way through treatment and recovery.

  1. Reality shows romanticize the tragedy of addiction.

Reality TV is good at romanticizing their subjects, even addiction. The people struggling with drug or alcohol addiction are almost set up as heroes by the time the intervention takes place. But the real heroic action happens when treatment begins. Dealing with cravings, learning about addiction triggers and rebuilding lives and relationships takes courage and a life-long commitment to recovery. This is where heroes are made.

  1. Reality shows do not show the hard work of planning and carrying out an intervention.

Because most intervention reality shows focus on the addiction rather than the intervention, it can seem like an intervention happens almost spontaneously. A well-planned intervention takes time and preparation. No family should stage an intervention without the help of a professional, and no intervention should ever happen without careful planning. Your interventionist will help your intervention team rehearse what each person is to say. He or she will also help you plan the safest and best time to carry out the intervention. What you see on TV may look simple, but successful interventions are well-planned, well-rehearsed and have a treatment plan in place for the addicted loved one.

Finding Help for Addiction and Intervention

As with most reality shows, what you see on television is far from what is real when it comes to addiction intervention and recovery. If your loved one struggles with drug or alcohol addiction and you want to plan an intervention, we are here for you. We can connect you with a professional interventionist and answer any questions you may have about the process. Call our toll-free helpline – which is available 24 hours a day – to speak to an admissions coordinator.