Addiction tears families apart. It erodes trust, ruins relationships and drives a wedge between people who love each other. Even the most well-intentioned and intelligent family members can become swept up in patterns of enabling and conflict.

And on top of it all, family members feel obligated to somehow convince their loved one to go to rehabilitation – even though this goal seems impossible. So many families either put off doing an intervention or try to do it themselves, often with disappointing results.

Thankfully, families don’t have to host interventions alone. They can call in a trained professional to help ensure success and make the process easier.

What Is an Intervention?

It’s commonly believed that the purpose of an intervention is to convince an addict to enter a drug and alcohol treatment center. However, this is actually only half of what an intervention is.

The best interventions have two purposes:

  • Help the addict get treatment
  • Help the family regain control of their lives, which have been hijacked by their loved one’s addiction

The most effective interventions begin with the family. It is important for families to see the unhealthy roles the addiction has created for them, which actually makes it difficult for the addicted loved one to change.

Once family members understand how they can take on healthy roles that will finally allow them to actually get their loved one the help that is so desperately needed, the interventionist can assist with the practical aspects of leading the intervention.

Swapping Responsibility

One of the most valuable aspects of a professional intervention is putting responsibility where it belongs.

In families that struggle to cope with addiction, we see the following dynamic:

  • The family sees it as their responsibility to fix the addiction. They try all sorts of methods to get their loved one to change, and when none of these things work, they fall into a routine of putting up with the situation as best they can, which only enables the addiction to continue.
  • The family leaves the decision of when to enter rehab to the addict. Seeing that their efforts to get their addicted loved one to change have failed, they assume that the same will be true of any attempts to get them to go to rehab, and decide that the substance user will decide to go when they’re ready, i.e., when they hit rock bottom.

The responsibility should actually be reversed:

  • The substance user needs to be held accountable for his or her addiction, and for making the changes necessary to overcome addiction.
  • The family needs to take responsibility for holding an intervention that will shift accountability for the addiction back onto the addict or alcoholic where it belongs.

Many families feel they can just talk their struggling loved ones into going to treatment or wait for them to eventually change on their own. In reality, this almost never happens, and a drug and alcohol intervention of some kind is almost always necessary for the addiction to subside, and eventually end.

What Does an Addiction Interventionist Do?

While some drug and alcohol interventionists focus only on getting the addict or alcoholic into rehab, our interventionists also help the family:

  • Prepare for the intervention
  • Stage the intervention
  • Understand what to do (and not do) after their loved one leaves rehab

The purpose of an interventionist is to direct the addict to want help and to accept accountability for the addiction by comfortably changing the family dynamic. The interventionist doesn’t just inspire your loved one to change; he or she is primarily there to put the family back in charge with hope and direction.

Your family’s loved one is not going to try to fix the problem until there is a compelling reason to do so. An interventionist provides that reason on the family’s terms, not the addict or alcoholic’s terms.

An interventionist brings all of the personalities of a family together, with all of their diverse opinions, and focuses everyone on a single solution that works on a level comfortable to them.

An Intervention Is Much More Than a Heart-to-Heart

An intervention is more complex than a simple conversation among family members. Professional interventionists have a number of goals to reach with every family with whom they work.

Interventionists like the ones at Family First Intervention will take responsibility for:

  • Setting up the intervention – who needs to be there, when and where, and what everyone’s role will be
  • Advising the family on treatment center options that would be best suited for the needs of the individual, taking into consideration the family’s budget and insurance coverage
  • Reviewing the family’s insurance policy to see which treatment centers will accept their insurance
  • Making the logistical arrangements with the treatment center the family chooses
  • Family education and counseling before, during and after the intervention

As interventionists, we know how much the family is dealing with. We are here to lift the burden off the family and make change more comfortable for both you and your loved one.

Before the Intervention

The first thing an intervention counselor does is help prepare the family for the intervention itself. It’s commonly believed that an intervention is for the addict or alcoholic, but addressing the family is equally important, and their needs come first in the process.

The interventionist works compassionately with the family to repair the unhealthy dynamics the addiction has created. This is a critical first step because if the substance user is to change at all, then the family must first change their boundaries and enabling behaviors.

The pre-intervention phase also consists of looking at rehab options and choosing the best one for your loved one. Because our interventionists have experience in coordinating with many different treatment centers and understanding their programs and reputations, the advice that families get from a professional interventionist saves a lot of time and energy and makes the decision process easier.

During the Intervention

The professional interventionist will also run the actual intervention, taking the pressure off the family to “make things go right” and allowing each person to focus on their own part in the process. Before the intervention, the interventionist works with the family on what to say and what not to say, making the actual intervention much smoother.

Most of the fears that families have about intervention are minimized or removed by having an interventionist present when talking to a struggling loved one. It is a transcendent and cathartic moment when your loved one accepts help and goes off to treatment willingly.

Considering the agony and heartache of the years, months and days leading up to the intervention, families often wonder why they didn’t host a professional intervention sooner.

After the Intervention

Once your loved one is off to treatment, the family still has work to do in establishing a new normal, free from the influence of addiction. The interventionist educates and guides family members in this process, providing instruction on what to do when your loved one completes treatment, or what to do if they return without completing it.

With new clarity on how to act going forward, family members can feel confident that they know what to do in the future, regardless of what their addicted loved one chooses to do.

Intervention Myths and Facts

Let’s address some of the common myths that people have about interventions, and set the record straight. You can also find answers to intervention FAQs here.

Myth: Interventions are harsh and confrontational, with the family piling on guilt and withholding love until the addict gives in and agrees to treatment.
Truth: While interventions are certainly uncomfortable at times, they don’t have to be torturous. In a loving and caring way, we need to send the message during intervention that there is nothing in the world the family will not do to help the loved one. At the same time, there is nothing in the world the family is willing to do going forward that will make the addiction worse.
Myth: “If we’re too hard on our loved one, he or she won’t agree to treatment.”
Truth: Families should stop worrying about what the addict or alcoholic is going to say or do. The substance user should worry about what the family is going to do and say. Your loved one would not be able to get as far as he or she has without help from the family. We know that you want your loved one back; it’s the job of an intervention counselor to show you how to do that.
Myth: “We’ve tried to get our loved one to change, but it’s just not possible. We have to wait for him or her to hit rock bottom.”
Truth: Change is possible, but not if the status quo is maintained. It may be true that what you’ve done so far hasn’t been effective. That’s why bringing in a professional is so important. They know how to approach the situation correctly so that change is possible for your addicted loved one.

You Haven’t Done Everything You Can Until You’ve Done a Professional Intervention

Change is hard for anyone, even if it is positive change. Many families say they can’t have a drug and alcohol interventionist come in because they are afraid of the whole process or do not want their loved one who is addicted to become angry with them. Other families say they do not think the intervention is going to work or that their loved one will accept the help.

Most families do not realize this, but almost all substance users internally and emotionally embrace the attention a drug and alcohol intervention offers. They may not always show it at the intervention, but almost all of them feel it. They really do want your help, even when they’re complaining.

Understand that people tend to take the path of least resistance. Your loved one wants to get better and wants to please you. But it’s just so much easier to give in to the cravings and keep making excuses. It’s up to the family to make going to treatment the new path of least resistance.

Families also tend to follow the path of least resistance, which usually ends up in grudgingly allowing the substance user to continue his or her addiction, even as family members vehemently oppose it. A professional interventionist helps the family make the changes in their own behavior that in turn spark change in their loved one.

Hosting a professional intervention reassures the family that they have done everything possible to save their loved one from addiction. Like any disease that is left untreated, addiction progressively gets worse for both the substance user and the family.

Don’t wait for change to happen on its own. (It won’t.) Take charge of the situation and bring in a professional interventionist to help your family be the catalyst for positive, lasting change in your struggling loved one’s life.

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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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