Getting the Help of an Interventionist


GettingProfessional Help Saves Lives

Have you come to the conclusion that your loved one needs help? Are you worried they won’t listen to you, or simply view you as nagging or lecturing? If you’re tired of watching somebody you care about spiral out of control, and want to stop feeling helpless, you may wonder what other options you have to convince your loved one to go to treatment. Could hiring an addiction interventionist help?

If you have a loved one who is struggling with alcohol, drugs, and/or other destructive behaviors, sometimes the best chance for hope is a professionally planned intervention. An interventionist can work with you and your family, encouraging your loved one to get the help they need.

What is an Intervention?

An intervention is a staged meeting between an alcoholic/addict and the addict’s loved ones. Loved ones can include family members, friends, employers, co-workers and spiritual advisors or clergy. It is crucial that those who confront the addict do so with concern and compassion. The goal is to help the addict to seek treatment.

When the intervention is planned and guided by a professional interventionist, loved ones can avoid confronting the addict in a way that may do more harm than good. It’s important to remember that addiction is a disease and your loved one is gravely ill. Shaming, arguing and accusations could make a sick person even sicker, and cause their substance abuse to escalate. The goal is to help them to seek help, not to vent your anger and frustration.

What Happens During an Intervention?

For an intervention to be successful, the addict should be helped to see clearly and specifically the ways that their substance abuse and resulting behavior is creating chaos and hurt in the lives of all around them. Participating family and friends are coached in advance how to express their feelings without accusing or shaming. Each participant takes a turn telling the addict how their behavior has affected them emotionally and in other ways. They come prepared with notes to help them stay on topic.

For instance, a child could say how sad they were when their parent did not attend their school function, or that they’re too scared and embarrassed to have friends visit their house. A co-worker can say they are tired of covering for the addict with their employer, and that they’re afraid their ‘help’ is actually doing more harm than good to their addicted friend. Loved ones can talk about how sad it makes them to see somebody they love destroying themselves and name specific incidences which scared them.

The intervention should be kept at around one to one-and-a-half hours. Experience has shown that prolonged meetings can devolve into arguing and chaos. Remember, your loved one will be overwhelmed, and may become defensive. Most addicts are in denial, and being confronted with the enormity of what damage their addiction is causing to others can be extremely traumatic. Keeping the meeting shorter and on-point is an important function that a professional interventionist can help with.

What Happens After an Intervention?

For an intervention to be resolved successfully there has to be a plan for the addict to get help. Depending on your loved one’s using pattern and substance of choice, medical detox may be necessary. For instance, somebody who has been drinking large quantities of alcohol on a daily basis could die from withdrawal if they stop drinking without medical supervision. This can also happen with heroin or other opioids.

The addict could agree to go into a rehab program immediately, or soon after the intervention. Rehab is strongly recommended to provide a safe, supportive, structured environment where the addict can receive counseling, begin recovery, and connect to others with the same problem.

Sometimes the family gives the addict a short period of time to think about what they will do about their problem. A professional interventionist can work with you to decide what approach to offer your loved one help will be most likely to succeed.

The well-loved writer Stephen King has been sober for decades. He wrote about his addiction and recovery in his book, On Writing. King wrote that he took a couple of weeks to think about the ultimatum his wife gave him to get clean or move during his staged intervention. Tabitha King told her husband that they, his family, loved him too much to witness his slow suicide any longer. King likened his hesitation to get help to somebody who is standing atop a burning building and a helicopter hovers above and drops a ladder, and the person has to think about whether or not to grab on and start climbing. King credits this delayed response to his impaired mental state due to substance abuse at that time. He got the help and has been clean for around three decades. He didn’t know if he would be able to write clean and sober, but millions of fans are grateful he’s still around; he has done some of his best writing during the sober years.

What if Your Addicted Loved One Refuses to Seek Help?

If an intervention is done properly and supervised by a professional interventionist, there’s no such thing as failure. At the least, your loved one will have a clear picture of the damage her or his behavior is causing to others. This may cause your sick loved one to bottom out quicker and seek help later on. Also, you are now in touch with an addiction specialist and can get information on where to seek help for yourself and possibly your children to recover from the trauma caused by living with an addicted loved one.

Getting Started: What to Look For

You’ll want to choose your interventionist carefully and make sure they have the proper credentials. Unfortunately, if you look on the internet, you’ll discover a wide array of people out there claiming to be “addiction specialists” or interventionists. Some of these people are not what they seem, and some scammers may prey on well-meaning families.
When choosing a potential interventionist, it’s vital to your success to hire a credentialed professional with excellent references.
Your interventionist should be listed with the Association of Intervention Specialists (or AIS). This is a respected credentialing body (the AIS Certification Board) that has a strong code of ethics. People who have this certification will have BRI-I or BRI-II listed after their name on their marketing materials. You can contact AIS to certify that credentials are legitimate. If the interventionist is part of a company, check the BBB rating of the company and contact them to see if they have any references you can call.

Many interventionists will have other important qualifications, such as

• LCSW (licensed clinical social worker)
• MSW (masters of social work)
• CCDC (certified chemical dependency counselor)

These credentials are earned through specialized training and indicate an expertise with mental health and/or substance abuse issues.

Take the time to find an interventionist that’s right for your family. You’ll want somebody who has experience, credentials, and a track record of results. If you hire somebody who isn’t qualified, the results could be disappointing or disastrous. You may find it’s even harder to get your loved one to accept treatment. Even worse, a botched intervention it could further alienate your loved one from you and your family.

Ongoing Relationship with an Interventionist

When you choose an interventionist, you’ll want to choose somebody who has some experience with case management. An intervention isn’t just a one-time meeting; it’s a multi-part process that includes:
• Pre-intervention work
• Intervention
• Finding the right treatment center
• Monitoring treatment
• Post-treatment/aftercare plans

An interventionist who has experience in managing cases can help you through each phase of the intervention. They can also help you work with any resistant family members or other special issues you may face during the intervention. Let your interventionist know about any special worries you may have that could come during the process.

An experienced interventionist has successfully gotten people into treatment even if they entered the intervention unwilling to consider the possibility. An intervention can be a life-changing event for all of you, so you want somebody who has a track record of success.

Contacting an Interventionist

When you start to contact intervention professionals, you’ll need to give them some basic background information about the person you want to get help. They’ll ask you questions about your loved one, such as their drug of choice. They will probably want to know how long your loved one has been using, and if there was a specific event that led to your phone call, such as an overdose or arrest. They’ll also want to know if your loved one has been to treatment before. You may not have all the answers to these questions. The interventionist may also want to ask questions about other family members or friends that might be involved in the intervention.

Do You Need Help Finding an Experienced Interventionist?

If you’re not sure where to start, we can help! Contact us to get a referral to a qualified, experienced interventionist. All phone calls are 100% confidential and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have about treatment and recovery options as well.