A drug intervention is a delicate yet serious matter where the life of the intended subject literally hangs in the balance. 

In other words, if an intervention is not handled with a certain degree of care, consideration, and deliberateness, it can have the opposite effect. It won’t directly make one’s addiction worse, but it can compel people not to seek the treatment they need to better their lives.  

What’s more, when an intervention is not handled correctly, it can result in emotional turmoil and distress, where precious relationships are destroyed and rendered unsalvageable. 

However, there are established guidelines for conducting a successful drug or alcohol intervention, and people trained for the sole purpose of administering them. These folks are called professional interventionists. Their sole purpose is to facilitate a comprehensive, efficient, and sound intervention to get you or a loved one into treatment, which can often be lifesaving. 

A certified intervention professional (CIP) has the experience, knowledge, and insight to facilitate this outcome. That is why they are worth it.

What Exactly Is an Intervention?

The Association of Intervention Specialists (AIS), a national body that establishes intervention standards and ethics, defines intervention as “an opportunity to interrupt a person’s destructive life patterns” and as “a starting point for change.”

According to the AIS, “Interventions must be designed to meet the unique needs of individuals who are addicted to alcohol or drugs, as well as for those ensnared by compulsive gambling, an eating disorder, or people bound by many other dangerous behaviors.”

When an Intervention Is Needed

Depending on the substance, the signs of abuse might not be readily discernible. 

When that abuse declines into addiction, people will start to exhibit compulsive behaviors centered on seeking their substance of choice. They will also exhibit noticeable behavioral and physical signs, such as:

  • Deterioration in health/personal appearance
  • Poor hygiene
  • Messy, careless appearance
  • Deterioration in appearance
  • Unexplained weight loss, weight gain
  • Marks, lines on arms, which may be concealed
  • Chewing gum, mints to mask breath odors
  • Muscle deterioration
  • Wearing dark shades at odd times
  • Drowsiness
  • Tremors
  • Changes in mood/emotional behavior
  • Agitation
  • Anger
  • Chronic fatigue, tiredness
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Uncontrollable mood swings
  • Sadness
  • Hopelessness
  • Socially isolation

Psychological Signs

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusional thinking
  • Insomnia
  • Memory loss
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis

Other outward signs of addiction

  • Strong drug and alcohol cravings
  • An intense focus on obtaining/using addictive substances
  • A strong need to use a substance(s) daily or multiple times a day
  • Spending money on a substance habit that is unaffordable
  • High tolerance for a substance
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms once use is stopped/reduced
  • Turning to addictive substances to cope with personal problems
  • Exhibiting high-risk behaviors while high
  • Failing to stop using despite previous attempts
  • Continuing to use despite the negative consequences

Additionally, someone addicted to drugs may neglect work or school responsibilities, which can result in job loss, poor work/school performance, and poor work/school attendance. 

These signs may show up in the home as well. Any of the following results can mean addiction: 

  • Locked bedroom doors
  • Missing valuables, household items
  • Excessive need for privacy; hard to get a hold of, unreachable
  • Frequent use of room deodorizers, scented candles, incense

If these signs and behavior sound familiar and you observe them in yourself or a loved one, then it is time for a professionally administered intervention.

The Benefits of Having a Professional Interventionist

The job of a certified intervention professional is to ensure that the person with a substance abuse problem enters treatment. 

  • The interventionist will help you and your family members prepare and stage an intervention. 
  • They will also help you understand what to do and what to avoid when your loved one leaves for treatment. 
  • A CIP arranges treatment options, including where to send your loved one for therapy. 
  • They can set this all up before the actual intervention takes place.

A CIP is also trained to meet professionally established standards for interventions. 

Professional Intervention Standards

A CIP will adhere to a set of standards that undergird any professional intervention process. 

According to the AIS, an intervention must adhere to the regular intervention model, which consists of the following criteria: 

  • All meetings before the intervention involve only the family members. The person who is in active addiction is not told about the intervention.
  • The intervention occurs only once – this is strictly for effectiveness.
  • An intervention occurs in a controlled environment that includes a trained counselor.
  • Once the intervention occurs, daily life must go on.
  • The person in active addiction must choose whether or not they enter into rehab. Whether they agree to it or not, the family must stick firmly to the consequences outlined during the Intervention.

Depending on the circumstances of the intervention, a CIP can utilize the Family Systemic Model, which contains the following steps: 

  • There are no planned meetings that are hidden from the addicted person. In fact, when a meeting is set up with a trained interventionist, the person goes to the very first one.
  • During the meetings, all family members and the person openly discuss the way the person’s behavior has affected each relative’s life. It is not a one-way conversation – it can go back in forth in a controlled manner.
  • Instead of having one big meeting for the intervention, there could be several meetings a week, and the process can last for months at a time.
  • Both the addicted person and family members commit to entering counseling. Most likely, the person with the addiction will attend an inpatient rehab to get over the addiction. Afterward, the person will join the family therapy sessions that occur while they are in rehab. The family commits to therapy sessions while the addicted person is in rehab as well as afterward as one family unit.

What an Effective Intervention Looks Like

The Mayo Clinic advises that intervention meetings accomplish the following:

  • Provide the subject with examples of destructive behaviors and how those behaviors have affected the subject with the addiction and the person’s family, friends, and colleagues
  • Offer a prearranged treatment plan that includes clear steps, goals, and guidelines
  • Clarify what will happen if the person refuses to accept treatment

An effective intervention process will also set clear, enforceable boundaries for the process. A professional can ensure that your intervention has these key features:

  • Well-timed. This means the subject will be invited to the intervention when he or she is at their most mentally and physically balanced. The subject should not be high, drunk, or going through withdrawal at the time of the intervention or else the meeting will not be effective. It’s worth noting that since withdrawal symptoms can be painful and uncomfortable, someone in this state will be less likely to engage in the meeting.  
  • Well-planned. Careful planning is essential to stage an effective intervention. A CIP will make sure that the people involved in the intervention rehearse what they plan to say to the subject beforehand. A professional will have them rehearse the written letters they plan on reading. 
  • Sticks to the script. Interventions tend to go very badly when they aren’t planned. That’s why a CIP will ensure that the intervention adheres to a script or actionable plan. When any deviations occur in this setting, it opens up the possibility of derailment and failure. This can sabotage the desired result: getting your loved one to admit they need treatment.
  • Honest. A certified professional will also facilitate an honest meeting, where misleading, lying, or equivocating with the subject will not be tolerated. A CIP will facilitate an environment in which participants talk earnestly about how the subject’s behaviors have impacted their lives. Honesty will give the subject an accurate perspective on their addiction and its impact on loved ones.  
  • Civil in tone and content. A CIP will set up ground rules so that the intervention remains civil in tone and content. Although these proceedings can be emotionally charged by nature, a professional interventionist is trained to diffuse the tensions, attacks, and harsh words that can occur.  
  • Objection and excuse-proof. Even the most well-run intervention meeting can fail. Because an intervention subject can get defensive about their substance use, they could get out of going into treatment by uttering objections such as these: “I don’t have a problem. I can stop at any time.” or “This is my problem, and I can handle it on my own. I don’t need help.” A CIP can help families identify the subject’s pattern of abuse and past negative outcomes. They can help family members outline past incidents that refute a subject’s objections. 

Why Professional Treatment Is Necessary

The sole responsibility of a CIP is to get someone into a professional treatment program. An intervention professional realizes the benefits a program of this type can offer.

Whether that person has an alcohol, heroin, or cocaine addiction, a professional treatment program offers a comprehensive set of evidence-based treatment that can set them on a course to sustained sobriety. 

A professional recovery program starts with acute treatment. At this stage, the addictive substance is removed from your body, and any withdrawal symptoms that arise are treated. 

After acute treatment, a professional program offers comprehensive therapy and counseling through clinical stabilization services or partial care.

The full slate of therapeutic services and approaches includes: 

Holistic Treatments

  • Acupuncture/Acupressure
  • Massage
  • Meditation
  • Nutritional Assessments
  • Reiki
  • Yoga

Group Therapy

  • Emotional Regulation
  • Medical Education
  • Motivational Enhancement
  • Relapse Prevention
  • The 12 Steps of Recovery
  • Wellness Skills

Individual Therapy

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) skills
  • Genetic testing
  • Family-focused therapy
  • Trauma-informed sessions

Upon completion of treatment, you or a loved one can get connected to a recovery community that provides ongoing support and counseling. 

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