An intervention is a powerful tool that has helped many people. Individuals may be in denial about their addiction disorder. interventions help them overcome their harmful belief that they do not have an addiction disorder. Realizing and accepting that they need professional help is the first step to start their road to recovery. Interventionists are professionals trained in mental health fields related to addiction recovery who help people who want to hold an intervention for their loved one.
An interventionist can help outline and follow through with the intervention plan as well as mediate the intervention. This helps the people participating in the intervention from turning the event into a confrontation instead of a wakeup call.
How Do I Know if My Loved One Needs an Intervention?
If your loved one displays symptoms of addiction such as:
- The inability to stop using substances on their own even when they encounter serious physical health risks caused by their substance use
- They feel like they cannot cope with stressful situations and in some cases everyday tasks without using substances
- They engage in risky behavior such as stealing, trading sex for substances, and using substances before engaging in behaviors that they need to be sober for such as driving. Both stealing and Driving Under the Influence (DUI)s can cause legal problems and sometimes jail time
- They are in denial that they have a substance abuse problem and believe that they do not need professional help.
When Should I Plan to Have an Intervention?
When your loved one is showing any signs of addiction intervention is needed. Please do not wait until your loved one has ‘hit rock bottom’ to intervene. Sometimes one or more people who care for the person with an addiction disorder doubt that their loved one has hit bottom.
A person with a substance abuse disorder is often in denial as well. They might hold onto the belief that their loved one can come out of it on their own and/or that something as big as an intervention can wait. It is very important for everyone to understand that ‘rock bottom’ looks different for different people. Addiction disorders do not discriminate.
The disease of addiction does not discriminate no matter someone’s age, gender, and socioeconomic status. Someone from a nice home with a good family can become just as addicted just as quickly as someone from a more distressed background. Addiction does not always look like someone who is living on the street. In many cases, the person with the addiction disorder can manipulate those who love them into supporting them financially and emotionally. Sometimes this manipulation goes on for years.
Steps Of An Intervention
There are several steps that people have to go through in order to have a successful intervention. These steps cannot be ignored or rushed through. The distinct steps to organizing and following through with intervention are:
Form a treatment team
During this stage of the intervention, the person or a professional interventionist who is planning the intervention decides who they want to include in the treatment team as well as who should not be on the team. It is important to not include anyone that the person with the addiction disorder dislikes and/or distrusts. Unfortunately, that can include people who care a lot about the person. It is important to hold firm on your decision on who is being considered for the treatment team
Decide on consequences
This is the time when you decide what the consequences will be if the person with the addiction disorder refuses to go into treatment. It is important to be specific about your consequences. “I will not help you out as much financially” is not as specific or as firm as “I will no longer give you any money or give you any loans if you refuse to go to treatment directly after this meeting.” It is also important that these consequences be realistic.
Write down what you are going to say
It might seem as though you have a very firm grasp of what you want to say to the person with the addiction disorder. However, people often get flustered and forget what they need to say if they do not have a speech written or at least have notes to reference from. Emotions run high and you do not want this to turn into a shouting match. It is also important that the treatment team comes from a place of love and caring.
This is not the time for people to try to work on their own issues, try to get closure or some form of apology from the person with the addiction disorder. It is not productive to turn to accusations during this time. That will only lead to further problems. Any needs that the treatment team themselves might have can be solved during the family counseling portion of treatment and the clinical recovery process. Having a mediator who will step in at the right time moderating the intervention can help, especially if some of the people at the intervention have short tempers or are very sensitive.
It is important to rehearse the intervention event several times before the actual intervention. You should not only choose who talks and when you plan out how to tell the person with the addiction disorder that this is an intervention and line out anything else that you need to do during the intervention.
After you have set up the speaking order and what to do if someone becomes too emotional to talk, and all other details, you should go through the process twice. It is important to have everyone say what they need to say and in the order that was decided upon.
It is important to plan what you will do if your loved one decides to leave the intervention. Do you want to continue the meeting but turn it into a way for the treatment team to regroup before anyone else leaves? Would the team rather split up to take care of anything that they might need to take care of on their own and regroup the next day?
This is the time that you and the rest of the treatment team have been waiting for. People who are the focus of an intervention should not know about the intervention or its planning until they are at the site of the intervention.
It is important to follow through with any ultimatums that you and the rest of the treatment team have decided to give either individually or as a group. If you have told the person with the addiction disorder that you will no longer have contact with them unless they get help, do not accept their calls or other attempts to get in touch. A person with an addiction disorder will try to manipulate you into not following through with your ultimatum.
Dual Diagnosis: Mental Health and Addiction
If things go well, the person with the addiction disorder will leave for admission to a substance abuse rehabilitation clinic. If the person with the addiction disorder has any other mental health problems it is important for them to go to a clinic that can treat people with a dual diagnosis. A dual diagnosis is a term for a formal diagnosis of co-occurring disorder(s). Co-occurring disorders are a state of mental health in which a person with an addiction disorder also suffers from one or more other mental health disorders such as:
- Panic Disorder
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Or any other mental health disorder.
How Long Will it Take to Plan an Intervention?
Planning an intervention will often last much longer than the intervention itself. Professional interventionists can moderate the intervention to keep everyone on track and keep the process organized and moving forward. They are crucial for all of the stages of the intervention from deciding who to include in the recovery team to moderating the intervention itself.
Some interventionists offer their own follow up program and will regularly contact and/or anticipate contact from the person who is in recovery as well as team members from the intervention. They do this in order to monitor the person who was the focus of the intervention and ensure that the appropriate steps are taken if the person who was the focus of the intervention has any problems.
What Happens if the Intervention Fails?
If things do not go well the person with the addiction disorder might leave the intervention before it is over and they might go ‘binge’ on substances. Your loved one might also disappear for a while. It is important to know that you have not failed your loved one in any way. You have done the best that you could and your intervention has come from a place of love. You can hold another intervention if you need to.
Are Interventions Safe?
In some cases, the person receiving the intervention might become violent. If your loved one has a history of violence and/or self-harm a trained interventionist can help find a safer place to hold the intervention. Interventionists also know other methods that can lessen the risk to the people in the intervention as a whole.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire an Interventionist?
If you do decide that you need an interventionist, there are several important qualities that the interventionist needs to have. There are some people out there that are not trained interventionists who claim to be. If someone offers to be your interventionist for free or at a very low cost, they are a scam. Some interventionists might offer a free assessment or free short-term advice but a legitimate interventionist will not provide the whole treatment for free. Many of the people who will provide ‘free’ interventions are paid by certain rehabilitation clinics to send the person with the addiction disorder to their clinic, whether or not it is the best clinic for them.
What Should I Look for in An Interventionist?
Here are some key things to look for when you are trying to find the right interventionist:
Has this professional helped organize interventions before? If so, how did the intervention go? Did the person that the intervention was to end up accepting treatment?
Does the interventionist have formal training in areas that are related to substance abuse recovery?
Do you know anyone who has gone to this interventionist? Are there any online reviews available? Is this person well known in the intervention field?
Do you feel comfortable trusting this person?
See if there is an aftercare program I can go to after treatment to help further receive treatment and relapse prevention techniques to maintain sobriety.
Ken Seeley Can Help
Dr. Ken Seeley has a degree in substance abuse/addiction counseling from the University of California in Los Angeles. He is an interventionist who has helped many people break through their denial, accept help, and start their road to recovery. He has over 30 years of experience. He is a regular on the A&E series ‘Intervention’ and he has been on his own road to recovery for 30 years.
It is important to get your loved one the help that they need. Please do not wait until they harm themselves or others.
The addiction and intervention specialists at Ken Seeley Rehab are here to help you plan your intervention and provide clinical treatment as well as follow up for your loved one. Please contact us today before it is too late!