What does an Interventionist do?

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  • Written By: Allison Boelcke
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 29 May 2020
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An intervention is an effort for the family or friends of a person suffering from addiction to convince that person to acknowledge his or her addiction and agree to rehabilitation treatment. This process is generally facilitated by a professional known as an interventionist. Interventionists are typically trained in psychology, social services, addictions counseling, or theology, and can help set up an intervention without alienating the addict or making him or her defensive or angry with his or her family or friends.

To be eligible for an intervention, a person must suffer from some type of addiction that is harming his or her health or hindering his or her ability to effectively function in everyday life. Addictions can range from substances like alcohol or drugs to gambling, binge eating, self-starvation, or even addiction to the internet or shopping. An addict’s friends or family will usually collaborate together to come up with a plan to get the addict help.

The most common first step of the intervention process is for the family and friends of the addict to contact the interventionist. After meeting with the addict’s family and friends, an interventionist will usually request that each person compose a letter to the addict detailing how that person’s addiction has negatively affected that people in his or her life. The letters are meant to be read aloud during the actual intervention so each person has something prepared to say to the addict during the intervention. By detailing how the addiction is negatively affecting the addict’s loved ones, it is thought to increase the likelihood of the addict taking the requests for treatment seriously and not feeling attacked.

An interventionist will generally discuss the planning of the actual intervention with the family and friends and decide on a neutral environment for the event to take place in. He or she will guide them through the process and what types of reactions to expect from the addict. These reactions can range to anger, denial, or acceptance that he or she has a problem and is willing to deal with it. Friends or family will generally agree to issue an ultimatum to the addict and threaten to withdraw any financial or personal support if he or she does not enter into rehabilitation treatment.

Before an intervention, the people involved are advised to keep it secret from the addict so he or she cannot prepare for it or avoiding showing up. Someone will usually be appointed to ensure the person shows up to the location of the event. Once all the participants are at the location, the interventionist will announce what the meeting is for and ask everyone to take turns reading their letters aloud. Afterward, the addict will have to make a decision to enter treatment within a specific time period. If he or she refuses, the other participants are expected to uphold their promises to withdraw support as a means of demonstrating that they will not enable the destructive behavior. The participants may attempt another intervention at a later date if desired.

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Post 3

My family had a drug addiction intervention for my cousin. It didn't go too well. He denied that he was addicted and blamed his parents. They didn't push any further when he reacted this way. After about five months, my cousin approached his parents on his own and said he wants to be treated.

From my cousin's experience, I think in order for the intervention to work, it's important to get professional help. We become emotional when the addict is a family member and we really don't know enough to plan out what we are going to do if the intervention works or doesn't work. So I think that getting a professional's help was the first thing that my

family did right.

The other aspect is that we did our best to show and tell my cousin that we love him and want to see him happy and healthy. If an addict believes this, I think it helps them come to terms with their condition more easily.

The other thing, which is not in anyone's control, is for the addict to be ready for treatment. At the end of the day, if they are not ready for it, it won't work. We could have pushed my cousin to be treated sooner, but if he wasn't ready, he could have been treated and still continue his addition after he came out. I wish we could do more to help them be ready for this change, but it's something they have to do.

Post 2

There is a TV show called Intervention and they film addicts right before their families initiate an intervention with them.

Thankfully, I haven't had any family members or friends with addictions. I didn't even realize how damaging addictions are to family relations until I started watching the show. It's also great to see how strong some of those people are, I feel that it's not their intention to hurt their loved ones. Their addiction is kind of like an illness and they don't realize what they are doing.

That's why an intervention works, because it opens up their eyes and helps them see reality. Not every addict on the show took the intervention seriously and unfortunately, some continued

on the same path after. But there were also a lot of people that accepted treatment and it was really moving to see them embrace their families and take charge of their lives like that.

Intervention is a really good idea. I pray that all addicts will be able overcome their problems, return to their families and live a good life.

Post 1

Just out of curiosity, how long will the family and friends generally wait before they decide for an intervention? Do they talk to the addict first and give him or her some time to think about the addiction and maybe accept it on their own?

I saw a film about addiction where the drug addict in the film was in denial the whole time. Her friends and family spoke to her and asked her to stop. Her boyfriend left her and said he can't be with her unless she gets treatment. But none of this made any difference, she kept saying that she's not an addict, that she can stop whenever she wants. But she could never stop and

rushed to find drugs at every chance she got.

Eventually her family had to forcibly take her to a rehabilitation center, but of course they couldn't keep her there for a long time. I guess no rehab center can keep an adult there unless the addict wants to be there.

I'm wondering, if the family were to contact an interventionist, at which stage should they have planned for the intervention?

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