An interventionist simplifies a delicate opportunity to get an addict into treatment. For the over 265 million Americans facing some sort of substance abuse addiction, this step can directly change the course of their lives and even save them from an untimely death. A key factor that drives the success of the intervention is how it is organized and communicated to the addict.
Taking a step back, an intervention takes place when close family and friends come together to try and get their loved one to pursue treatment for an addiction. In many ways, this boils down to a “make it or break it” type of moment. The way you approach someone about a problem that they are facing—particularly one of which they might be ashamed, already trying to hide or minimize, or even in denial—requires maximum sensitivity.
The way someone is approached about their addiction can affect how open they are to taking action. It can affect how willing they are to attend a program that can help. It also can set the stage for how open they are to accepting the help and doing the work needed to get through their program. In the long-run, it can help set the stage for whether they will be successful in managing their addiction.
Some loved ones have tackled interventions on their own, but this is not advisable. An interventionist has undergone professional training followed by years of experience; in some cases, they have handled thousands of interventions. They can position an intervention to have the best chances of success.
Let’s dig deeper into what exactly an interventionist does.
The Role of an Interventionist
The central role of an interventionist is to help a substance user’s loved ones understand how they can fit into the treatment plan. In many ways, the interventionist is almost a translator that can serve the family to better understand their user and channel their concerns into the types of positive, supportive actions that can really help.
Unfortunately, there are plenty of misconceptions around the role of an interventionist. Despite what popular culture often portrays, the interventionist is not intended to serve as a motivational speaker who rallies the substance user into action. The interventionist does not act as a therapist for the family, nor are they there to pry into the deep secrets of a family’s history. Instead, the interventionist is there to help guide those close to a substance user through recovery.
An interventionist can help you understand a substance user’s behaviors, and help you process your reaction to these behaviors to make sure you are helpful. An alcohol abuse interventionist and a drug abuse interventionist can each shed light on the unique challenges these different types of addiction may bring.
Drug Abuse Interventions
Families often end up being held hostage by drug abuse and its surrounding behaviors. In their quest for procuring drugs and short-term comfort, the addict may use everything from guilt through victim tactics on the people closest to them. Everyone copes differently with this kind of behavior, but it can end up fracturing families and the very support system that the addict need for recovery. The resulting resentment can build up and negatively impact even the most positive of efforts, such as intervention. This is yet another instance where the assistance of a drug abuse interventionist may be beneficial, as they can help shed light on the drug addict’s behaviors and what loved ones can do to stop enabling them.
Alcohol Abuse Interventions
Every alcohol interventionist can tell you that a key challenge distinct to alcohol abuse is the entitlement factor. Alcohol is readily available and socially acceptable, if not expected in many situations. When compared to an illicit drug user, alcoholics are more likely to be exposed to alcohol—but more importantly, they are more likely to feel justified in their use of it. As with illicit drugs, the substance being used is not necessarily as bad or dangerous as the user’s behaviors around obtaining and using their substance of choice. Alcoholism can be particularly difficult to manage because it is easier to procure and hide throughout the home, which means that many users start to relapse in secret. As a result, in order to really learn what is going on, it is critical for the loved ones around an alcoholic to observe their actions—and pay less heed to their words.
Having on-demand access to a helpful interventionist is important for a positive outcome. It is impossible to plan exactly when support will be needed, although inevitably there will be some measure of volatility between the substance user and their loved ones that will require the guidance of an experienced professional. You don’t want scheduling availability to derail the intervention. Work with a professional interventionist company that has multiple team members available to help you through the various steps of a substance user’s recovery.
7 Steps to a Successful Intervention
Every successful intervention comes down to seven essential steps. The types of challenges faced will differ with every step, which is why it can be so helpful to lean on a team of interventionists on-call to assist with any surprises that may arise.
Step One – Initial Inquiry
At this phase, the addiction interventionist maps out the roles and behaviors of all parties close to the abuser. At this step, each individual’s willingness to help is evaluated. Any family members who choose to follow through on staging a formal intervention consult with the interventionist, who explains the role of the intervention and how they can serve everyone through it. At this point, each family members discusses their feelings and concerns surrounding the future intervention. Everyone willing is acknowledged and heard.
Step Two – Scheduling the Intervention
If a family or friend group agrees to an intervention, the next step is to schedule it. An intervention usually takes two to three days. Each member participating in the intervention is asked to write a letter to their loved one. A professional interventionist is available at all times to answer any questions that may come up. An assessment packet containing formal diagnosis criteria (ASAM, DSM-V, and ASI) is shared with everyone involved, as well as treatment plan options based on the data shared with the interventionist.
Step Three – Interventionist Arrival & Introduction
Everyone involved in setting up the intervention will receive an addiction intervention manual, which aligns everyone on expectations around what this process will look like. This manual can also help offer some clarity as to what the substance user is currently going through. In this way, the interventionist can help each member of the user’s close circle understand how the addiction has been affecting their own behaviors, so that they can then identify strategies that will encourage and support their loved one to get the help they need. Each individual involved will be in on the plan and boundaries to be set if their loved one agrees to a treatment plan, as well as what to do if they refuse help.
Step Four – The In-Person Intervention
For this step, the interventionist becomes the intervention facilitator. This is where the meeting between the loved ones and the user takes place according to the plan previously agreed upon—with the addiction interventionist present. Each member of the family or close friend reads the letter they wrote earlier. Regardless of what the loved one decides, each member of the intervention is prepared with a plan. If the intervention seems to be moving in a positive direction, the interventionist continues to drive the process forward until clear acceptance of help takes place. If the intervention incurs resistance, the intervention team will regroup and consult with the family and loved ones involved to decide on next steps together.
Step Five – Help is the Addict’s Choice: Acceptance or Refusal
The substance abuser ultimately chooses whether to accept or refuse help.
Either way, the intervention team will be prepared to respond. If the user accepts help, they will be escorted to the treatment program likely that same day and by the interventionist. If the user refuses help, then the family will explain the consequences of this refusal and the boundaries they will have to put in place, then they will regroup with the interventionist to process the refusal.
In the case of a refusal, it is vital for the family and loved ones to follow through on their boundaries no matter what. The family must be ready to remind the user that these boundaries are in place as consequences for the user’s choice to not seek help, and will persist as long as they refuse treatment. The interventionist team should be kept on hand to help the family process the user’s behaviors until they ultimately accept help.
Step Six – We Provide Solutions
There are four solutions available to addicts who accept treatment.
- Inpatient detox – This option is particularly well-suited for any users who fear withdrawal symptoms, since these facilities can help make the withdrawal process as comfortable as possible. Our interventionists can even help match the user with an appropriate detox center that may take their insurance.
- Inpatient rehab – These 30+ day programs can help a user work beyond just detox, and help dig into some deeper therapeutic approaches on a full-time basis. The full range of therapy options, from one-on-one to experiential and even including family therapy, is on the table with this option.
- Outpatient programs – This can help for addicts who cannot go to inpatient rehab. Each day, they attend a range of therapy options while continuing to live at home. The details of this option should be explored on a case-by-case basis with the interventionist team.
- Sober living homes – For any addicts who need to stick to outpatient programs but want a home environment that is more supportive of their new lifestyle, our team of interventionists can make local referrals to living homes.
Depending on the individual user’s diagnosis, challenges, and circumstances, different options may be available. The interventionist team can help walk through the various available options, and can use their experience to help with practically any issue that may arise.
Step 7 – Continued Support from Addiction Interventions
No matter which outcome results, continued partnership with the interventionist team can help the family and friends of a user not just cope with the situation, but process their behaviors and make sure that they are positively contributing—and not inadvertently making things worse.
How Can You Leverage the Support of an Interventionist?
Working with an interventionist is known to have a higher success rate than going it alone. Partnership with an addiction interventionist—or even a team of interventionists—does not have to break the bank, and can instead be extremely affordable. It all starts with a simple phone call to the intervention experts at Addiction Interventions, who can help you explore your options and frame the type of specific support that will be most beneficial in the intervention you are setting up. The addiction interventionist you speak to will share their insights, free of charge or obligation to sign up.
Our addiction interventionists will help you get your intervention on the right path, regardless of whether you choose to work with us or not. Remember: you and your loved ones do not need to do this alone.