Drug and alcohol addiction can be devastating, but many people who suffer from a substance use disorder don’t feel ready to admit their problems or enter treatment. In some cases, holding an intervention can help your struggling loved one make the decision to move toward recovery. An intervention is a structured, compassionate conversation where family and friends discuss their concerns with the addicted individual and present treatment options.
Some people hold interventions independently, but in many cases, a trained interventionist can help. According to Mayo Clinic, the goals of an intervention include providing specific examples of the negative consequences the addiction has had on the lives of everyone present, offering a treatment plan, and describing what consequences will occur if treatment is refused.
Mayo Clinic particularly recommends the use of an intervention specialist in the following circumstances:
- The individual has a severe mental illness.
- There is a history of violence.
- The individual is suicidal or has talked about suicide.
- The substances of abuse include those that are severely mood-altering or cause violent behavior.
An intervention should not be attempted without professional guidance if there is a chance that the individual could become violent in any way. An interventionist or family mediator can also help keep the intervention on track, as interventions are often highly emotional. Having a professional present who is not directly involved in the situation, and who is experience in handling different eventualities that may occur, can be helpful.
Choosing an Interventionist
An interventionist, or intervention specialist, is a professional who directs the intervention process. This individual will help choose who will be on the intervention team and educate each person involved about addiction and treatment options. The interventionist directs all planning meetings and is present for the actual intervention, helping to keep the event on track. There are no nationwide regulations for interventions, and state regulations vary widely. Because there are few finite requirements for an individual to be labeled as an interventionist, it is important to look for an individual with sufficient education, certifications, and practical experience.
An intervention can follow several different models, and each interventionist will be trained in specific methods that they may prefer. Psychology Today lists the Johnson Model, Motivational Interviewing, and the ARISE model as the three most common intervention styles. Some models surprise the addicted individual with the meeting of friends and loved ones, and others include the individual in the planning stages. The appropriate model to choose varies between individual circumstances; what works for one person may not work for another.
While many states do not require interventionists to hold any credentials, it is best to find a specialist who is certified by a reputable organization.
Certifications, such as Board Registered Interventionist 1 and 2, ensure that the person has sufficient education and knowledge to successfully stage the event. Psychology Today recommends asking several questions when speaking with a potential interventionist, including the following:
- What fees do you charge?
- Will you travel to the location of the addicted individual?
- What services do you provide?
- Do you continue to provide assistance after the intervention is complete?
- What treatment centers do you typically refer to?
- What intervention model do you follow?
- Do you have client references?
Often, an interventionist can be found through referral from an acquaintance or a medical professional. You can also find a specialist through online directories provided by professional interventionist organizations. The Association of Intervention Specialists requires its members to be board-registered interventionists and provides an online directory that you can search by location. Independent Interventionists is another organization that allows you to search for intervention specialists in your area.