There is nothing easy about watching a family member or friend struggle with addiction, but talking to a loved one about addiction for the first time can be particularly challenging.
Actual interventions share very little with the dramatic confrontations we see on TV and in movies. In real life, the tough-love model is more likely to provoke resistance and denial than acceptance and a desire to change. Compared to the popular image of an intervention, the real deal is a much gentler and more nuanced process, requiring conflict management skills that few of us naturally possess.
If you do not feel prepared to stage an intervention on your own, even after reviewing the basic tenets and do’s and don’ts of successful intervention, it may be time to bring in a professional interventionist. According to the Association of Intervention Specialists (AIS), an interventionist is an “individual who helps identify the appropriate people in the life of a person who is experiencing substance use, mental or behavioral health problems that will become an influential part of a recovery team. . . The interventionist supports, educates, [and] provides guidance, direction and training, as well as the facilitation of the intervention and aftercare.” With the assistance of an experienced interventionist, a very large number of people commit to getting help.
Although an intervention specialist is not needed for every intervention, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) strongly recommends seeking the assistance of an addiction professional if your loved one has a history of serious mental illness, violence, or suicidal tendencies or if he may be taking several mood-altering substances.
The first step to hiring an interventionist is to verify the reputability of local options. The evidence-based treatment services offered by Waypoint Recovery Center include access to qualified intervention specialists. If Waypoint does not offer the specific service you require, ask if there is a trusted professional in the area that could be recommended for your situation.
Whenever possible, it is better to select an interventionist through personal recommendation or in consultation with a brick-and-mortar addiction treatment facility like Waypoint. Not only are you much more likely to find a reliable professional through a recovery center, but you will also get a better feel for the style of intervention the facility endorses. This firsthand knowledge will be useful in choosing an interventionist now and, potentially, an addiction treatment facility down the line.
After you select an interventionist, you should use your initial consults with him or her to learn what to expect. With so many inaccurate portrayals of interventions out there, it is important to have a conversation about how your particular intervention will work and even who you should invite to participate. Then, check with other involved family members and friends about these ground rules and expectations. For your intervention to be successful, it is vital that you make sure everyone is on the same page in terms of emotion, intention, and message.
How the intervention itself will work depends on the method used by your interventionist (e.g., the Johnson, ARISE, and Love First models of intervention), but a commonality among many interventionists is the option for additional contact after the intervention itself. Ask about follow-up services when planning the intervention. If the intervention goes well, keeping the interventionist involved in the recovery process can give a greater sense of continuity and guidance to the (sometimes confusing) addiction recovery process.
Intervention can definitely be a daunting task for family and friends, and bringing in an interventionist is one scientifically validated way of rising to the occasion. The reason for using an interventionist is ultimately very simple. The heart of successful interventions is a powerful message of love and support, and an interventionist can help you voice that message and open up your loved one to hearing it.