Kirsten Banks, LPC, CPCS, CIP, CAI
INTERVENTION: Navigating Through a Crisis
Updated: Jul 9, 2021
Substance abuse in someone you care about is a challenge few people know how to handle. When someone begins to misuse drugs or alcohol, it often seems like they start turning into someone unrecognizable. You may struggle with feelings of helplessness and wonder what you can do to stop a loved one from continuing down the dangerous path of addiction. Interventions present an opportunity to alter the course of a person’s battle with drugs or alcohol and help them get on the road to recovery.
One of the biggest myths about treatment is that your loved one is going to have to "want it" in order to accept help and go to treatment. This is true... EVENTUALLY, but not in the beginning! Substance abuse and mental health issues hijack the brain and make it impossible for them to make rational decisions. Which is why we shouldn't expect them to "want it" in the beginning.
WHAT IS AN INTERVENTION?
An intervention is a face-to-face conversation between someone living with addiction and/or mental health issues and a group of their loved ones. The conversation has two specific goals: getting the individual to admit they have a problem, and persuading them to accept treatment for it. Though there are multiple formats of intervention, the constant among all of them is the presence of loved ones who come together to try and help the individual facilitate change.
Interventions are complex events that require a great deal of coordination and compassion to plan and perform. For an intervention to be truly persuasive, everyone in the room must be able to do their part in confronting the individual, and that comes with a high emotional toll for everyone. But when performed to a well-thought-out plan, interventions can provide the motivation a loved one needs to choose treatment. With some hard work, determination, and the help of a Certified Interventionist you can plan an effective intervention.*
HOW TO KNOW WHEN AN INTERVENTION IS NECESSARY?
One of the most nerve-wracking things about planning an intervention is determining whether it’s truly time for an intervention. It’s common to agonize over this question and wonder whether you’re blowing everything out of proportion, so here are a few signs a person’s addiction requires intervention.*
1. Increasing Tolerance
Tolerance is the phenomenon that causes someone to stop responding to a drug as they once did. A person developing a tolerance will need more and more of a substance to achieve the same effect as when they began abusing it. An alcoholic, for example, might move from buying six-packs to buying whole cases. It’s common for alcoholics to switch from beer to liquor as time goes on, because lower-content alcohol can no longer get them intoxicated effectively due to the continued development of tolerance.
It’s not always easy to tell if someone is consuming more of a substance, especially if they are secretive about it. Alcohol is relatively hard to hide compared to substances of abuse like opioid painkillers. If you don’t live with the person in question, try enlisting the help of someone who does to find out if your friend or family member is filling prescriptions more often or making more trips to the liquor store or their drug dealer. Escalating consumption is a severe sign that an intervention is appropriate.
2. Financial Trouble
It is not cheap to maintain an addiction. No matter the substance, obtaining enough to sustain a growing addiction will put a dent in a person’s wallet. Has your friend or loved one recently begun asking to borrow money without being willing or able to explain what it’s for? Have you noticed their home or vehicle is showing signs of disrepair? Someone addicted to drugs or alcohol will often skip a new paint job or car repair in favor of purchasing substances.
3. Deteriorating Appearances
People struggling with addiction tend to let personal hygiene and general self-care fall by the wayside. Someone may gradually or suddenly develop bad breath or a persistent odor. Drug and alcohol abuse is also very hard on the body. Someone will likely begin to look tired and develop bags under their eyes from poor sleep quality. If you notice your friend or loved one starting to look worn out or sick from substance abuse, it’s time to plan an intervention before their health gets worse.
4. Declining Responsibility
As addiction takes hold of a person, they lose their sense of responsibility in the pursuit of the next drink or high. Has your loved one or friend been struggling to fulfill all their duties at work or school? Have they been taking more sick days to cope with the fallout from getting drunk or using drugs? These signs are giant red flags someone’s addiction is spiraling out of control. An intervention is likely necessary to prevent the behavior from worsening and costing the person their job.
5. Increasing Isolation
Addiction causes people to withdraw from their relationships to family and friends. At some point, it becomes nearly impossible to hide substance abuse from others, so a person may distance themselves or drop relationships altogether. This detachment can make interventions more difficult, so it’s essential to stage one before the addicted individual self-isolates completely.
HOW TO KNOW WHO TO HIRE?
Interventions save lives and help families heal and move forward if done with a trained professional. Substance Use Disorder and mental health issues are complex and the process for finding the right help can be very complicated. In times of crisis, family members often struggle navigating this complex process to determine what the best plan is and knowing how to locate the appropriate treatment match on their own. If you have made attempts in the past and have not been successful in helping your loved one, then now is the time to hire a Certified Interventionist.
A Certified Interventionist is an expert on addiction and/or other mental health issues. It is important to look for an interventionist's credentials for certification, such as Certified Arise Interventionist "CAI" or Certified Intervention Professional "CIP". Certified Interventionists are trained and skilled in family systems and successful intervention techniques. The interventionist supports, educates, provides guidance, direction, and training, as well as the facilitation of the intervention and aftercare services.
Clinical Background / Degrees:
Interventionists who are also mental health counselors, such as an Licensed Professional Counselor or LPC, spend years in school, studying both addiction and psychology. This Clinical experience can be essential when working with complex situations and in order to recommend the most appropriate treatment facility for your loved ones specific needs.
When hiring an Interventionist, here are some things to look for:
Certified Interventionist, such as CAI or CIP
Clinical License or Credentials
Accredited College/University Degrees
Academic background, training, and/or experience background
Experience treating addiction, mental health, trauma and families
Experience working with complex clients and families suffering from Substance Use Disorder, Trauma, and Mental Health issues.
Ethical code: do they or have they ever taken kickbacks for treatment placement.
Therapeutic Recovery Network utilizes a team approach to our intervention process. For many reasons, a team approach to clinical care for the client and family is often required. With over 20 years of experience in the field, we have developed an extensive referral network of many accredited and highly qualified facilities and treatment centers across the US. This allows us to recommend the most appropriate treatment placement for your loved one’s specific needs and to ensure quality care and a seamless process at each step. Kirsten is both a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and a Nationally Certified Interventionist (CAI & CIP). As a Clinician she is trained and experienced in how to provide clinical interventions for mental health and/or complex substance abuse cases. As a Certified Interventionist she has extensive training in working with the whole family system and the person of concern to get help and to facilitate change in the entire family system.
*Sources: calgarydreamcentre.com, gatewayfoundation.org