Addiction is a disease with unique challenges including the fact that those who suffer from it often fail to realize their condition. This is due, in part, to cognitive impairment caused by the effect of drugs on the brain. A report by the National Institutes of Health reports that the majority of people suffering from drug dependence do not get treatment and that 94 percent of untreated individuals do not believe they need help. Friends and family members of people suffering from addiction often try to overcome this lack of awareness by confronting their loved ones in the context of a planned intervention.
Advantages of Using an Interventionist
One of the first questions to be considered when planning an intervention is whether to hire a professional interventionist or to conduct the intervention without outside assistance. There are many compelling reasons to hire a professional interventionist including the following:
- An intervention planned and executed by an experienced professional is more likely to produce a successful outcome than one held by people without the same degree of experience and training. Although every situation is unique, interventionists can recognize patterns, predict responses and guide participants toward desired goals. They are skilled at defusing and managing anger and potentially violent situations. When they read the intervention letters written by family members and friends, interventionists can deduce how addicted individuals are likely to react and when needed, they can guide participants to edit the letters in a way likely to produce the desired results. No matter how well-meaning and prepared family members and friends may be to stage an intervention, there is no substitute for experience.
- Interventionists can do what does not come naturally to family members and friends. A professional interventionist quoted in an article in The Independent notes that the approach taken in an intervention is counter to natural instinct. He states, “The instinct is to protect, love and cherish no matter the circumstances. But you have to do some things that go against that grain.” An interventionist can help family members and friends recognize any unintentionally enabling behaviors and can help them set appropriate boundaries. Interventionists help intervention participants think through and decide on consequences for addiction-related behavior that they might not otherwise enforce.
- Hiring an interventionist relieves stress for family members and friends. Dealing with the addiction of a loved one tends to be stressful and emotionally draining. Planning an intervention without professional help can add to the stress level needlessly. A professional interventionist can make logistical decisions that might be difficult for family members and friends to make such as who should and should not be present at the gathering. Interventionists can also handle other logistical details such as where and when the gathering will be held. They will plan and direct a rehearsal as well as the actual intervention freeing family members and friends to focus on interacting with the addicted individual and expressing their love and concern.
- A professional interventionist can be objective and has no emotional baggage associated with the situation. People may interpret the same words very differently when they come from an interventionist than when they are spoken by family members or friends because past interactions affect the interpretation of their message. A publication titled “Substance Abuse Treatment and Family Therapy” lists a wide range of emotions that may be experienced by family members of addicted individuals and that may affect relationships and communication. These include anxiety, embarrassment, anger, concern, fear, guilt and feelings of abandonment. When family and friends stage interventions without an objective party taking the lead, emotions may be raised and things may be said that will have an impact on relationships in the future even when addicted individuals agree to enter treatment.
- Professional interventionists are familiar with a wide range of treatment facilities and are able to select a rehab program that meets the needs of a given individual and family. Although health insurance may or may not cover the cost of a professional intervention, interventionists will look for treatment programs that offer quality care and that match the insurance coverage and financial resources available. Many interventionists maintain contact with the family and addicted individual during the treatment process to ensure that the program is the right fit and that any problems are addressed.