In the Seinfeld episode, “The Pez Dispenser,” Jerry and his friends plan an intervention for a friend who is addicted to drugs and alcohol. The intervention somehow becomes a get-together of unintended guests and one of Kramer’s “polar bear” swimming friends tells of his experience with interventions. “We used to do that when one of our polar bears stopped coming. We would go to his house and say, ‘What you don’t want to be a polar bear anymore? It’s too cold for you?’”

Although hysterical, this simplistic view of an intervention is nothing like the real thing. An intervention is not a group of buddies getting together to confront their friend on his drinking. Most interventions are planned well in advance with the use of a rehab center of substance abuse counselor. Scripts are written, participants state their case in a particular order, and a plan is ready to go if the subject accepts treatment.

Oftentimes, interventions surprisingly take place in the subject’s place of work – with the full cooperation of the alcoholic’s employer. A friend of mine was the subject of such an intervention after his constant daytime drinking led to lost clients, lost business, and a lot of lost money. He really wasn’t given much of a choice – either go to rehab or go to jail. He chose rehab.

For those of us who didn’t know our drinking was an issue until after it was too late, I wonder how successful an intervention would have been for me. I know I would have been shocked, since I was convinced no one knew I drank as much as I did.