Drug and alcohol interventions may be one of the most misunderstood services in the addiction treatment and recovery industry. Ever since A&E began airing the television show “Intervention”, people have come out of the woodwork as interventionists. There are a couple things to understand about interventions and interventionists: First, just because a person is in recovery or long-term recovery from addiction does not qualify them to perform interventions. Second, while there are many independent organizations that train and certify interventionists in different approaches and methods, there is no one overall licensure body or organization that oversees interventionists and interventions.
Interventions are often a key watershed moment in an addict or alcoholic’s life if they are to get clean and sober. The debilitating denial that is rampant in the mind of an addict often makes it extremely difficult for that person to have a “moment of clarity” and be cognizant enough to go take necessary action into receiving substance abuse treatment or entering a drug rehab. Family and friends pleading with an addict to get help also often do not attain the desired result. It is important to seek professional help from a quality, experienced interventionist that can plan out the intervention in the best way to achieve the desired result of the loved one entering treatment.
Because family members and friends often have many questions regarding interventions for a loved one, we’ve enlisted the help of long-time interventionist and founder of Recovery Care Partner, Don Sloane to answer some basic questions regarding interventions. Don, a trusted friend and colleague, is himself a member of the recovery community and has worked in the recovery field for 30 years, training as an interventionist under Dr. Joseph Cruz, one of the physicians that contributed to the intervention on Betty Ford.
QUESTION #1: What is an intervention?
An intervention is a group process during which the reality of an individual’s substance abuse disorder (SUD) is presented to that person by a group of concerned individuals. Each member of the group is a significant person in the identified patient’s (IP) life, and is asked to relate several experiences in which the person’s drinking and/or drug use adversely affected him or her. The power of this objective evidence, presented in a structured fashion by friends, family and colleagues more often than not, overcomes the IP’s “denial” so they are motivated to enter a treatment program. This approach is characterized by statements that affirm: (1) dignity, respect, positive regard, love and affection for the IP, (2) statements that specify negative consequences of the IP’s alcohol and/or drug use in a descriptive and nonjudgmental manner and (3) statements that affirm the need for the IP to seek treatment. And, when necessary (4) the behavior changes the participants will make in the event that the IP does not accept the treatment options as presented.
QUESTION #2: What do parents, families or friends need to know when choosing an interventionist to intervene on their loved one?
There are many factors to maximizing the likelihood that the person being intervened upon will accept help at the time of the intervention. At the top of the list is preparedness. The intervention process is dealing with the innate frailty of our humanity exacerbated by the disease of addiction which makes it virtually impossible to predict what the person being intervened upon may or may not do during an intervention. Those seeking the support of an interventionist should seek one that is capable of effectively and compassionately supporting and handling anything that may occur during or after the intervention. This is to say, there is far more to an effective intervention than writing letters and sitting down to speak with the person in distress.
QUESTION #3: When should a family or friends begin planning an intervention? What are signs that a loved one is in need of intervention services?
Not fair, as you snuck two questions in here! I’ll answer them separately. First, as soon as the question is asked, “Should we be considering doing an intervention”. As the adage goes, pornography is hard to define but you know it when you see it. Similarly, if a family or workplace is having conversations about someone they know or love related to that persons relationship with alcohol or drugs than there is a high likelihood that that person is in trouble and needs support. The first step in making the decision to do an intervention is to speak with a qualified interventionist that is willing to provide education about the diseases of substance use disorders as well as describing the intervention process so that the family friends or employer can make an informed decision about proceeding with an intervention or not.
Second, almost always, when a person is experiencing adverse consequences associated with their relationship with alcohol, drugs or behaviors, someone in their life has already shared with that person their concerns with that persons behaviors. On occasion the person in trouble will be able to hear the concerns of those around them and in response change their behaviors accordingly. When conversations such as these do not yield a change in behavior a structured intervention is then appropriate. In essence, an intervention is a process, based on a platform of love and compassion, whereby the group of concerned individuals makes a healthy decision for the individual that is in an active state of disease at a time that that person is incapable of making a healthy decision for themselves.
Don’s services and company information can be found at www.recoverycarepartner.com. The mission of Recovery Care Partner is to build stable, sustainable lives for those afflicted with substance abuse and concurrently to improve the lives of those directly affected by the addict. Don can be reached at (855) 727-2887.
If you or someone you know is in need of an intervention or help because of drug and/or alcohol abuse, please give us a call. Maryland Addiction Recovery Center offers the most comprehensive addiction treatment in the Baltimore City, Baltimore County and entire Maryland and Washington, D.C. area. If we aren’t the best fit for you or your loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (410) 773-0500 or email our team at Contact us today. For more information on all of our drug addiction and alcohol addiction services and recovery resources, please visit our web site at www.www.marylandaddictionrecovery.com.