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Interventionist

Alcohol and drug addictions are well known for their effects on a person’s ability to reason and make sound judgments. In spite of the mounting turmoil, confusion and destruction that comes with compulsive drug use, addicts will likely stand firm, denying that a problem exists.

When family and friends have done all they know to do to help the addict, it may be time to call upon the help of a trained professional. Interventionists specialize in coordinating intervention meetings, where family and friends can present their concerns to the addict in a constructive manner.

As addiction does affect different people in different ways, certain types of situations may call for an intervention while others may not. Understanding the effects of addiction and the different guises it takes can go a long way towards determining whether an interventionist can be of help in getting your loved one to enter a drug treatment program.

What Does an Interventionist Do?

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An interventionist is a person who helps loved ones of an addict plan and stage an intervention.

Without some form of structure in place, a drug intervention can quickly turn into a volatile situation. Confronting an addict about his or drug use is likely to bring out the worst in him or her. The effects of addiction on a person’s brain make it all but impossible for addicts to imagine living without drugs, let alone acknowledging drugs as a problem.

An interventionist acts as a liaison of sorts, guiding the meeting in such a way as to bring about the best possible outcome, according to the Indiana Prevention Resource Center. Ideally, the addict will agree to enter drug treatment. When this is not the case, the addict will still be held accountable for his or her drug-using behaviors.

Overall, the interventionist’s job encompasses –

  • Understanding addiction
  • Preparing participants for what to expect
  • Planning the intervention
  • Prepping the participants before the meeting

An interventionist gathers information regarding the severity of the addict’s addiction and the effects of drug use on the lives of the meeting participants. From there, an interventionist helps ensure meeting participants understand the overall purpose of the meeting to prevent things from spinning out of control.

The Purpose of an Intervention

More oftentimes than not, friends and family have attempted to confront the addict regarding his or her drug use. These interactions can go downhill quick in the face of anger, hostility and even paranoia on the addict’s part.

The overall goal of an intervention works to make the addict aware of how serious his or her addiction has become. Chronic drug users have all but lost the ability to see past the drug’s “high” effect to the point where they believe drugs are a necessary and vital part of their lives.

From this mindset, an addict can’t see the harmful effects of drugs on his or her life or the lives of others. In effect, the interventionist creates an environment where friends and family can confront the addict in a loving and caring manner while at the same time holding the addict responsible for his or her behaviors.

The Intervention Strategy

Knowing when to hold an intervention and how to go about conducting the meeting becomes the primary function of the interventionist. This entails implementing a strategy beforehand to ensure everyone involved is on the same page.

The strategy behind an intervention follows a set plan that’s put in place by the interventionists. Components of an intervention strategy include –

  • Helping participants prepare scripts that lay out how the addict’s behavior has impacted their lives
  • Drawing up treatment goals in the event the addict agrees to enter treatment
  • Helping participants set consequences in the event the addict refuses to enter drug treatment

In effect, motivating the addict to get needed treatment help becomes the overall goal of an intervention strategy.

The Meeting Participants

As interventions often bring up difficult issues for all involved, the make-up of the intervention group becomes an important factor in ensuring a positive outcome. To put together the best possible gathering, an interventionist makes recommendations on who should participate in an intervention meeting.

In general, only four to six people should be present. Any more than this and the addict may feel ganged up on in the face of so many people. Typically, people who play an important role in the addict’s life have a better chance at making a positive impression on the his or her decision to get help. This includes coworkers, spiritual counselor or pastors as well as people the addict likes or admires.

Ensuring Productive Outcomes

Regardless of how good an interventionist may be, there will be cases where the addict absolutely refuses to get needed treatment help. For this reason, interventionists require meeting participants to determine what types of consequences the addict must face should he or she refuse to get help.

Consequences may take the form of –

  • A spouse drawing up divorce papers
  • An employer terminating the addict
  • A friend breaking off contact with addict

Part of the interventionist job entails ensuring participants are able to follow through on set consequences to ensure the addict is made accountable in the event he or she refuses treatment.

When to Consider Hiring an Interventionist

Considering the wide range of effects addiction can have in a person’s life, an interventionist’s expertise may well be warranted under certain types of circumstances. According to the Mayo Clinic, various factors can influence how a chronic drug user will react or respond during intervention. These factors include –

  • The severity of his or her addiction
  • Personality make-up
  • The presence of mental illness
  • The likelihood of him or her becoming violent
  • An addiction involving two or more different types of substances
  • Whether or not the addict has or has expressed suicidal tendencies

Someone struggling with a depression and/or anxiety disorder on top of an addiction problem is likely to be more resistant and even violence-prone when confronted about his or her drug use. Likewise, the severity of the addiction increases in cases where a person abuses two or more different types of drugs.

Ultimately, the greater the likelihood of violence or harm the greater the need for an intervention specialist. While it’s likely the addict will experience a certain degree of discomfort and anger during an intervention, ensuring a positive or constructive outcome is what’s most important.

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