What Is A Substance Abuse Interventionist?

A substance abuse interventionist is a person who will guide and instruct people on how to do an intervention. A professional can be board-certified and credentialed through the Association of Intervention Specialists (AIS) as a Certified Intervention Professional, or CIS. Interventionists are often licensed through the state where they practice, and many will also have a background in counseling or therapy.

An interventionist can be involved from the start. They will choose the format for the intervention, outline the structure, and take charge of the planning process. They also commonly work by taking the lead of the actual intervention. This ensures that no mistakes will be made and that the intervention will have a higher chance of succeeding. The main goal is to get your loved one to agree to get help for substance abuse voluntarily.

After learning more about the addict, an interventionist will help you decide on the best strategy or intervention technique to use. There are different types of interventions, ranging from non-confrontational and family-involved styles to more traditional and crisis-based options. Ultimately, a substance abuse interventionist should walk everyone through the entire process, helping to take a lot of the pressure off. 

An interventionist can help you figure out when and how to bring your loved one into the conversation. They may even provide a neutral meeting place where the event will be held. Essentially, they are both a facilitator and a guide for your intervention.

Finding An Interventionist

An intervention can seem like a daunting task to take on, and an interventionist can relieve some of the pressure. There are many options to choose from, and you should go with who you feel most comfortable with. You and the people participating need to feel at ease and welcome to open up during an intervention. But personality traits alone are not enough to figure out which interventionist would be best.

To find a qualified interventionist, you can ask your doctor or medical provider for a referral. Treatment programs often have preferred interventionists they can refer you to as well. AIS hosts a member directory you can use to find a local certified interventionist close to you. Likewise, the Network of Independent Interventionists also maintains a list of interventionists you can contact for help.

When choosing an interventionist, follow these steps:

  • Find someone you feel comfortable talking with and that you feel really listens to you.
  • Check their credentials and certifications. Not all interventionists have professional credentials or board certifications.
  • Ask for references from prior clients.
  • Find out how many interventions they have managed.
  • Ask about the services they provide. Make sure they plan to be with you from the first meeting all the way through getting your loved one into treatment.
  • Ask about which intervention models they use. There are several styles, and you may be more comfortable with a certain one.

Why Do An Intervention and How To Plan It

An intervention is a focused approach that can help someone accept they need to start a treatment program. In an intervention, loved ones show people struggling with addiction, how their actions are impacting those around them. This realization can encourage them to get professional help.

It can be hard for a person to recognize that they need help for drug or alcohol abuse, and denial is often a side effect of addiction. But it can be incredibly overwhelming for friends and family members to deal with this denial. After all, they have undoubtedly been hurt by their loved one’s substance abuse. This, in turn, makes it tough to not react emotionally when the person denies the problem exists. That’s why an interventionist can be vital.

There are a number of mistakes that can be made throughout the duration of the intervention. Naturally, people who are not trained and have no experience do not know this and are prone to making those mistakes. The role of the intervention is to avoid that as much as possible by taking several measures.

During The Intervention

Part of a substance abuse interventionist’s job is to moderate the conversation and troubleshoot. There is no way to fully plan for everything that could possibly happen or be said during the event. The interventionist needs to deal with problems as they arise and devise solutions on the spot. That requires experience and training.

Prior to the event, several planning meetings will be held with intervention team members. The team is made up of family and loved ones — anyone close to the person who has been impacted by their substance abuse. If someone is going to participate in the event, they must attend these meetings. They will be instructed on the strategy, how to react, what to say and keep in mind, etc.

On the day of the intervention, the interventionist will keep the meeting on track and moving in the right direction. The conversation is bound to be emotionally charged, when in fact, it shouldn’t be. But keeping your cool and not letting your emotions get a hold of you might require external help. An interventionist will provide an outside viewpoint and a calm and professional perspective.

As the team tells the person suffering from addiction how their actions affect them, they might start to feel blamed. There is a fine line between pointing fingers and listing facts. Blaming can be a problem, and it can be disruptive, especially depending on how the addict will react. The person might get defensive, make up excuses, try to leave, etc. With the interventionist present, misunderstandings might be avoided as they help phrase things and explain things.

Another possible issue is that loved ones might see how the intervention might be hurting the addict. They might try to protect them, to justify their actions, or want to give up halfway through. This is a way to enable the addict and add to the problem, even if done with the best of intentions. An interventionist will manage these feelings in a professional way. They can guide both the addict and the loved ones so that the intervention can be finished and peaceful.

The interventionist can act as a moderator to make sure that the conversation stays positive, non-confrontational, and clear. An interventionist can also step in if things get heated, helping to diffuse the conversation and bring it back to a productive level. They essentially serve as a point person to keep the event focused on its goal. They can also help everyone with any concerns about treatment they might have.

Help With The Next Steps

The desired end result of an intervention is to get someone into a formal treatment program. An interventionist can help with this too. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) says interventions are successful over 90% of the time when a professional interventionist is used.

At the end of the intervention, there has to be a definite plan of action of what will be done next. Should it be starting a program? Detoxing? Attending group meetings? The interventionist can help come up with realistic, necessary milestones to work towards getting help. They can also help the person, and their loved ones understand all their options. There is a lot that can be done and many options to choose from out there.

This part is hard because there is a fine line between loved ones helping and enabling. The person needs to take these steps themselves. If they don’t, they might neglect or fail to see the importance of what they are doing. An interventionist, however, can properly instruct about what to do without taking the responsibility away from the person. They will know how much they can do while still allowing the person being helped to decide correctly.

The next stage is to make sure the person will do as they said they would. Even if they mean to do it, it might be hard to actually follow through. That is also something the interventionist can help with. 

An interventionist can help you get a loved one into treatment by:

  • Researching treatment centers ahead of time.
  • Helping with the enrollment process.
  • Setting up transportation to get your loved one into treatment as soon as they agree to go.
  • Escorting your loved one to the facility, ensuring they stay sober on the way there.
  • Working with insurance to confirm the program is covered.
  • Answering any questions you have along the way.

Get The Help You Need At Footprint To Recovery

An intervention is only the initial push towards a journey of sobriety. Once the decision has been made, it is time to look for a program that works for your needs. Though it might seem scary to start, there is much to lose from not seeking treatment. Starting a treatment program is an important decision, and having the right team beside you is the only way to succeed.

If you or a loved one need help planning an intervention or getting treatment after one, contact us today. We at Footprint to Recovery can help you find out what is the next step to address addiction. Our team hopes to answer all your questions and provide any information you might need. Getting help is a brave decision, and it will enable you to become a sober, healthier version of yourself. 

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