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A&E’s “Intervention” Will Meet With!

Sam Mettler, creator and executive producer of “Intervention” (Mondays at 9 p.m. Eastern on A&E), plans to sit down with next week to talk about the award-winning show, which is in its eighth season.

The program follows people with addictions and episodes climax when family, friends and the drug counseling experts hold interventions to force guests to break their habits.


Social workers help clients overcome drug, alcohol and other addictions. For more information, visit the National Association of Social Workers’ “Help Starts Here” Addictions Web page by clicking here. Are there any questions you want us to ask Mettler and do you think social workers could have a bigger role on the program?

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  1. I have many concerns about this program. I feel that it exploits individuals and their loved ones. I feel that interventions don’t work for everyone dealing with issues with substance use. It would be great if A&E acknowledged other approaches utilized for dealing with problematic alcohol and drug use like harm reduction, moderation management, and safer use techniques. I would support their efforts wholeheartedly if they did a special on harm reduction and see the wonderful impact it has on improving the quality of lives of alcohol and drug users. In fact, they’re more than welcome to follow me around for a day in my work and see a social worker in action.

  2. Amanda: Could you explain harm reduction?

  3. Harm reduction is a set of practical strategies that reduce negative consequences of drug use, incorporating a spectrum of strategies from safer use, to managed use to abstinence. Harm reduction strategies meet drug users “where they’re at,” addressing conditions of use along with the use itself.

    Because harm reduction demands that interventions and policies designed to serve drug users reflect specific individual and community needs, there is no universal definition of or formula for implementing harm reduction. However, the following principles are central to harm reduction practice.

    * Accepts, for better and for worse, that licit and illicit drug use is part of our world and chooses to work to minimize its harmful effects rather than simply ignore or condemn them.

    * Understands drug use as a complex, multi-faceted phenomenon that encompasses a continuum of behaviors from severe abuse to total abstinence, and acknowledges that some ways of using drugs are clearly safer than others.

    * Establishes quality of individual and community life and well-being–not necessarily cessation of all drug use–as the criteria for successful interventions and policies.

    * Calls for the non-judgmental, non-coercive provision of services and resources to people who use drugs and the communities in which they live in order to assist them in reducing attendant harm.

    * Ensures that drug users and those with a history of drug use routinely have a real voice in the creation of programs and policies designed to serve them.

    * Affirms drugs users themselves as the primary agents of reducing the harms of their drug use, and seeks to empower users to share information and support each other in strategies which meet their actual conditions of use.

    * Recognizes that the realities of poverty, class, racism, social isolation, past trauma, sex-based discrimination and other social inequalities affect both people’s vulnerability to and capacity for effectively dealing with drug-related harm.

    * Does not attempt to minimize or ignore the real and tragic harm and danger associated with licit and illicit drug use.

  4. Yes, Social Workers should have a bigger presence on the program. This would assist in educating the public about the Social Work profession, thus lessening stigmas about Social Workers. Although the show devotes very little time to the family intervention and the treatment process, I feel like it does demonstrate the underlying issues that contribute to addictions.

  5. Unfortunately – speaking as a Social Worker and a Drug Addict (Once an Addict, Always an Addict) all of the interventions mentioned by Amanda have relatively low efficacy rates when implemented with Stage Three Addict’s (i.e. most of the addicts on the show) on their own.

    Therefore, I think that the intervention model displayed on the A&E Series is actually quite accurate and relatively grounded/realistic. Once an addict goes to rehab they can detox and go through withdrawal in a safe, medically monitored environment.

    After these fundamentally imperative initial stages are complete, harm reduction, moderation management, and safer use techniques can be integrated into the treatment plan for the specific client. Oftentimes, when used in integration with more traditional abstinence based programs, these methodologies are quite effective. Nevertheless, one should take heed and realize that every client, every addict – every person – is different. Many of the individuals on Intervention do not have the ability to utilize harm reduction, moderation mgmt., etc. techniques in relation to their ADDICTION. This is NOT to say that they are less than, or incompetent, or unable to benefit from harm reduction approaches in other areas of their life. Indeed, if one was able to properly integrate moderation management techniques into their lifestyle, then one would not be a Stage III addict in the first place.

    Thanks Amanda for the information though. I’m all about the integration of many methodologies into a clients treatment plan. Oftentimes, I’ve found that doing so will result in an increase of the efficacy potential of the given treatment process.

  6. The program focuses on the intervention in a very realistic and emotionally charged manner. However, there is rarely discussion /psychoeducation about dual diagnosis and trauma recovery. Today’s addicts are presenting with trauma history,family histories of mental illness, and exposure to war. The show would support change efforts if they normalize dual diagnosis/trauma/war and addiction as self medication behavior. Keep up the education, people are getting it:)

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