The Intervene model offers the opportunity to gain a keen understanding of the “enemy” and a systematic process for identifying problems and finding solutions. It was born out of an attempt to understand one of the most pressing problems in the United States today: Addiction.

In May of 2009, my nephew died of alcoholism. Stunned, I asked myself, “How could we (our family) have let this happen?!” I was determined to find answers, and started researching and writing a book about alcohol/drug abuse and addiction. Having a natural tendency to perceive a large system as processes that are linked together, I created a process of ten steps – each, with a customized action plan, and a master plan at the end – that loved ones could follow to help and support their alcohol and/or drug user. I titled the book, Intervene: An Emergency Guide to Heavy Drinking, Alcoholism, and Drug Addiction.

Intervene is a model that can be used to address other problems, as well. As I created it, my nickname for it was the “sleeping with the enemy” approach. Particularly large problems are often problems that we hate, deny, and/or are determined to ignore. We feel very polarized: It is Us vs. Them (The Problem). The Problem is The Enemy.

And we often simplify the problem. The Us vs. Them perspective makes it easy to do this (as long as the problem does not begin to encroach on our sacred territory – as long as it doesn’t start to affect and then overwhelm us).

But as we delve into the problem (i.e., start “sleeping with the enemy”), we realize that it is not so simple. The problem may have many different facets, or moving, interrelated parts. Some or all of these facets may be difficult to understand, and the solutions may be difficult to find – perhaps making us even more reluctant to delve in further, and more willing to run in the other direction. But if we persist, we start to realize that there is a commonality in these facets, and it is one that – dare I say it? – we actually share with the enemy!

So if there is a pimple on my face, I may initially regard it as something foreign that disgusts me. But when I start to delve into the problem (the enemy, the pimple), I realize that there is something wrong with the system (the body). I am eventually horrified to realize that the pimple is a part of me! But in this realization is the gift that I have some control and can do something about it. This is part of the path to self-empowerment.

Even some of the most despicable things have a common denominator. Some of the common denominators of terrorism, for example, are anger, hate, and fear. If we move up the chain to the overarching causes, this could help to lessen the distraction caused by the polarity of the situation, and sharpen the focus on the overarching causes and what we can do about them.

To learn more about Intervene and the steps in the Intervene model for addiction, click here. (The steps may vary depending on the problem situation to which the model is applied.)