Most people know the term “intervention”, even if they have never been impacted by addiction. The A&E television show “Intervention” brought to the public a behind-the-scenes look at families in crisis and what occurs when they reach out to a professional interventionist for help.


However, what an intervention truly is, what the process looks like, and the value and benefit that a professional interventionist brings to families are often pieces of information that most people are unaware of due to never having that experience firsthand. However, it is important information to have if you have a loved one suffering from addiction. Many people believe that an intervention is an easy or quick process that often looks like this: A family has a loved one suffering from addiction that does not think they have a problem or refuses to seek treatment. The family calls an interventionist. They hire that interventionist who then meets with the family, has them write some letters, surprises the addicted loved one, makes the addicted loved one sit in a circle and listen to the family letters, everyone cries, the potential patient gets angry, then agrees to accept help. The interventionist then escorts and transports the patients to a rehab or residential treatment center, then cut to six months later and everyone is happy, sober, and thankful for the experience.


While this is sometimes what happens, this is not always the case. The choice to hire an interventionist is always difficult, and the process of conducting and intervention is always overwhelming. Therefore, it is important to bring in an interventionist when a loved one refuses to acknowledge they need help or continually refuses to seek help when confronted. And the value of an interventionist and the work and support they do with both the patient and family often isn’t truly understood on the frontend of the process but can be lifechanging for individuals and families who utilize these services.


Some definitions for the word “intervention” are: “the act of interfering with the outcome or course especially of a condition or process (as to prevent harm or improve functioning)”, “the action or process of intervening”, and “action taken to improve a situation, especially a medical disorder.” In terms of an intervention related to a loved one’s addiction, an intervention is ideally an action taken by an individual’s loved ones to hire a professional to create a supportive and structured event to interfere with the course of a loved one’s harmful behaviors and actions and put in place a plan to support the identified patient and their family to achieve the desired outcome of health, wellness, and recovery.


It is important to understand that just like treatment centers, not all interventionists are good or offer high quality services. Sometimes people promote themselves as an interventionist without having appropriate training or education or any clinical understanding. Some people believe they are able to perform interventions simply because they are a person in recovery themselves or they, at some point in their history, had been intervened on themselves. This is untrue. While is it important to note that unlike clinical professionals or addiction treatment centers there is no national or state body that licenses interventionists, there are some organizations that credential or support the continued training and support of interventionists, some interventionists are licensed clinical professionals, and any professional and quality interventionist will be able to offer an extensive history and experience working with individuals that suffer from substance use disorders.


Additionally, there are many different approaches or methods to performing interventions. Many interventionists are trained in one form or another or are actually trained in numerous forms of and approaches to intervening. Also, individuals that require interventions do not all have the same issues. While they may be abusing or misusing drugs, some may have additional mental health issues or psychiatric issues, or other types of co-occurring disorders. It is vital that a hired professional interventionist is able to handle the specific clinical issues a potential patient may be dealing with or experiencing, as well as be well-versed in the treatment landscape so that they can appropriately suggestion a rehab or treatment center that can appropriately and clinically treat and support the patient if that patient agrees to seek help during the intervention.


So, what are some of the valuable services offered by a professional interventionist?


First, let us understand the process that goes into an intervention. Most of the time, a family is worried about their loved one in active addiction and that loved one is either unwilling to acknowledge they need help or is unwilling to engage in treatment. A family would then contact an interventionist. Most quality and professional interventionists will take a call with a family and spend the time with them understanding the situation at no charge. This is basically a free consultation. They will gather necessary information, understand the patient’s issues, history and potential clinical needs, the family dynamics, and any other pertinent information related to the specific case.


Then the interventionist will give the family all necessary information, including what the intervention process looks like and costs of the intervention services and potential ongoing case management and family support services. Once the family agrees, both parties will enter into a contractual relationship detailing the process, timelines, services and cost. Then the interventionist will prep the family with some work on the front end, including bringing in all interested parties (including parents, spouses, children, siblings, friends, employers or coworkers, etc.), conducting phone calls, and assigning writing tasks, some of which may be presented during the intervention. Once all necessary planning is done, the interventionist will typically plan a pre-intervention meeting with all necessary participants the day before the intervention. They will go through different scenarios, strengthen boundaries that the family is willing to hold if the identified patient refuses to seek help, as well the action the family is willing to take regardless of the outcome of the intervention. The interventionist will also be coordinating care with different rehabs, treatment facilities, and treatment professionals to coordinate admission if the individual being intervened on accepts the offered treatment plan. The interventionist would identify clinical issues and treatment needs, and select a facility (or a few potential facilities) that can meet the clinical needs of the patient and the financial needs of the family, which can include choosing a facility that is both clinically appropriate and affordable.


The day of the intervention the interventionist and appropriate loved ones would conduct the intervention with the individual, which can look like several possible approaches. There are different ways and methods to approach and conduct an intervention, which can include options like The Johnson Model, the Arise® Intervention model, an invitational intervention technique, a family systemic intervention, or a crisis intervention. Sometimes an intervention approach can include parts of some or all these techniques. The interventionist would have discussed this all with the family during the planning stages and pre-intervention meeting.


Once the intervention occurs, hopefully the patient will have accepted the help and the interventionist transports the patient to treatment and collaborates with the treatment center admissions staff once they arrive. The interventionist, in collaboration with the family and the treatment center, would sort out all travel arrangements either pre-intervention or right afterwards on the way, depending on how they believe the situation will go.


At this point, many people believe the intervention process is complete. However, that is not typically the case. A good, quality, professional interventionist continues their services supporting the family while the patient is in treatment, as well as working with the treatment center that patient is at to finalize and aftercare plan. Many interventionists offer ongoing case management, family support, sober coaching and/or monitoring services for both the patient and the family well after the actual intervention has taken place. Additionally, many interventionists offer ongoing family coaching and support even if the identified patient refuses help. We all know that addiction impacts every member of a family unit, regardless if the person in active addiction agrees to or refuses help, the family and loved ones are in need of support and healing. A professional interventionist will offer these types of supportive services to a family regardless of the “success” of the intervention. They will also regularly make themselves available and form a strong, supportive relationship with the family, so that if the loved one in active addiction refuses help but needs it in the future, the family is already well-versed on the process and is actively in their own recovery and easily able to lean on the interventionist if needed in the future. This type of family support and/or post-treatment support is vital in helping a family unit recover.


So how does a family in need find a quality interventionist? It is important to research. It can be very difficult to find one online by randomly searching. More importantly, if you may have a close family friend that has needed to hire an interventionist, ask them. Also, reach out to a quality local treatment facility and speak to them about the need for an interventionist. Ethical, quality rehabs and addiction treatment providers work closely with interventionists all the time, and most likely will have a list of interventionists that will fit your families and loved one’s needs, regardless of where you are located in the country. Once you connect with an interventionist, ask questions. Where have they trained? How much experience do they have? What is their clinical understanding? Ask them if they are certified by any organization or are a licensed clinician? Do they work alone or in a team? Are they comfortable intervening on patients that may have other mental health or co-occurring disorders along with addiction? Make sure you feel comfortable that the interventionist has experience, understands your loved one’s clinical needs, knows the treatment centers that they use very well, and offer ongoing support.


The value of hiring an interventionist can be invaluable to a family, both for having a professionally-led intervention, but also for navigating the treatment landscape, making sure your loved one receives treatment that best meets their clinical needs, being an advocate for the patient and family while the patient is in treatment, collaborating on aftercare, offering ongoing services and support, and providing ongoing and necessary coaching and support for the entire family throughout the treatment experience.


If you or someone you know needs help for addiction or co-occurring disorder issues, please give us a call. Maryland Addiction Recovery Center offers the most comprehensive dual diagnosis addiction treatment in the Mid-Atlantic 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 For more information on all of our drug addiction, alcohol addiction and co-occurring disorder services and recovery resources, please visit our web site at

intervention for family member with drug problem

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