Staging An Intervention For A Professional With A Substance Abuse Problem

Impaired Professionals: Doctors, Lawyers And Executives

Addiction does not discriminate on the basis of race, social standing, profession, or income. Americans from all parts of the social spectrum in virtually every community have experienced the consequences of addiction in some form, whether personally, within a family, or among friends or coworkers. Addiction can also affect people in important professions, and many people working high-stress jobs face an inherently higher risk of addiction than people working in less demanding employment sectors. A lawyer with a stellar trial record or a surgeon who just finished a life-saving procedure may not fit the typical image of addiction most Americans hold, but if they develop substance abuse disorders they need help just like anyone else struggling with addiction.

Confidential, Professionally-Guided Interventions For Professionals

A professionally guided and structured intervention is possibly the most effective method for motivating any high-profile professional to accept substance abuse treatment. Doctors, lawyers, business executives, and other professionals typically look for treatment options that offer reliable results and confidentiality. Almost every substance abuse treatment center promises confidentiality to every patient, but this is especially important when treating impaired professionals. These individuals often face a much greater risk by admitting their addictions and entering treatment. Without help, they may face significant professional consequences and jeopardize both their careers and their families.

Executive interventions can help professionals struggling with substance abuse confront and address their addictions in supportive, positive environments. Unlike typical interventions that involve close friends and family members, executive interventions usually take place in an employment-related setting such as a boardroom or conference room, and participants often include the subject of the intervention’s coworkers, supervisors, and possibly even company executives. If a member of a company’s C-suite has an addiction, the other company executives will likely take leading roles in his or her executive intervention.

Consequences Of Substance Abuse For Professionals

Substance abuse and rehab unfortunately carry negative social implications in the U.S. Many American professionals like doctors, attorneys, and company executives have difficulty accepting the reality of their situations when addiction manifests, and many others develop high-functioning substance abuse disorders that may continue for years before these individuals start truly feeling the effects of addiction in their professional lives.

Confidentiality is of the utmost importance when dealing with any type of executive intervention. The individuals in these positions need discretion, otherwise they risk significant blowback from their local communities and possibly even licensing or certification organizations. Some professionals who develop substance abuse disorders may eventually lose their professional credentials, the right to practice their professions in certain areas, and their standings within their local communities if an addiction spirals out of control.

What Is An Executive Intervention?

An executive intervention is an intervention that focuses on the subject’s professional life. In most cases, the subject’s supervisors and colleagues come together to plan and execute an executive intervention. While the purpose of a typical intervention is for the participants to tell the subject how his or her behavior has negatively impacted their lives, the purpose of an executive intervention is to focus on the subject’s professional life and how his or her addiction has compromised his or her career.

Executive interventions help companies retain top talent and ensure company leaders get the help they need to overcome their addictions and do their best possible work. Contrary to popular belief, if an important employee or executive at a company, an attorney, or a doctor develops a substance abuse disorder, his or her coworkers and supervisors would likely prefer for him or her to get help and then return to work rather than simply firing him or her. Sometimes, an executive intervention precedes disciplinary action and offers the subject of the intervention another chance to get help before suffering professional consequences.

An executive intervention can also be extremely beneficial to a struggling professional who has already gone beyond the influence of friends and family. Perhaps a family-focused intervention already took place and failed, or the subject does not have much of a personal life and instead devotes his or her time and energy to a career. When a professional with a substance abuse disorder sees colleagues and supervisors come together to encourage him or her into treatment, the experience can be an extremely valuable wakeup call that finally convinces him or her to acknowledge the need to make a change.

Working With A Professional Interventionist

An executive intervention requires careful planning and preparation. Professional interventionists can provide an unmatched level of guidance and support during the planning and execution phases of an executive intervention.  An intervention, whether personally or professionally focused, is not something that can be successful with minimal planning. Substance abuse is a serious issue and planning an intervention for substance abuse requires extensive planning. The organizers of an executive intervention must take time to find an appropriate time and location, work closely with a professional interventionist who will host the intervention, and help all participants prepare for difficult but necessary conversations with their struggling colleague.

Offer Support, Confidentiality, And Job Security

The main goal of an executive intervention for a medical professional, attorney, business executive, or high-performing employee is to encourage him or her to seek treatment so he or she can return to work healthy and better prepared to handle the rigors of intense work. Many people in high-stress jobs fall into substance abuse to cope with daily stress and increase productivity, but this is not a tenable lifestyle and eventually a professional’s substance abuse will have consequences in the workplace.

It is best to plan and execute an executive intervention before an addiction reaches a tipping point. It is possible for a doctor, attorney, or other high-profile professional to suffer severe work-related consequences if a substance abuse problem eventually leads to harm to a patient, client, or failure to perform job duties effectively. An executive intervention has the potential to be a turning point in his or her life that allows him or her to receive treatment confidentially and discreetly so he or she can return to work after overcoming addiction.

Mike Loverde

As a Certified Intervention Professional (CIP), member of NAATP, NAADAC, and accredited by the Pennsylvania Certification Board, Mike Loverde knows first-hand what it’s like to live life with addiction. By overcoming it, he had a calling to work with others who struggle with drug and alcohol addictions—the people who use and the families who feel helpless watching them decay.

With thousands of interventions across the United States done and many more to come, Loverde continues to own the intervention space, since 2005, by working with medical doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists and others who need expert assistance for their patients who need intervention. To further his impact on behavioral health and maximize intervention effectiveness, Loverde is near completion of a Masters in Addiction Studies (MHS) accreditation, as well as a Licensed Independent Substance Abuse Counselor (LISAC), and is committed to attaining the designation of a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC).

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