What is an intervention specialist?

An intervention specialist is a mental health professional that plans and supervises a drug or alcohol intervention. More on what they do here.

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Intervention specialist definition

A drug or alcohol intervention is a process in which a group of people gather together to try to convince a mutual loved one to get help for their addiction. An intervention specialist, also sometimes referred to as an interventionist, is a mental health professional that specializes in planning and executing these interventions. Intervention specialists are often present during addiction interventions as well. This helps keep the process on track and the group focused on the goal of the intervention.

Intervention specialist goals

There are different substance addiction intervention strategies. And an intervention specialist often has a few very important goals. Intervention specialist goals must be met before, during, and after an intervention in order for it to be successful. Some common intervention specialist goals include the following:

  • arrange for or recommend suitable substance abuse treatment
  • assist loved ones with making an addict realize that they need help
  • educate loved ones and addicts on substance abuse and addiction
  • keep interventions on track and focused
  • prepare loved ones for interventions

What happens during an intervention?

STAGE 1: Preparation

An intervention should be planned meticulously before it actually takes place, typically with the help of an intervention specialist. The intervention specialist will usually help the group decide on a time and place for the intervention, as well as help them prepare what to say. Interventionists bring experience and knowledge of best practices, as well as objective help, to an intervention. But what happens during an intervention?

STAGE 2: The Day of the Intervention

When an addict arrives at the intervention location, they will be informed of what is taking place. The intervention specialist, along with the rest of the group, may need to persuade the addict to simply sit and listen.Once an addict has agreed to stay and listen, the intervention specialist will then typically explain to the addict that the members of the group care for him or her and are worried about their substance abuse. Each member of the group will then usually take turns confronting the addict with specific examples of their substance abuse and how it affects them.

What happens after an intervention?

After an intervention, an addict must make a choice to either seek help for his or her addiction or face the consequences. If an addict chooses to seek treatment, an intervention specialist will usually be able to help find a suitable treatment program to meet their individual needs. This can include intensive individual and family counseling, as well as addiction education or a stay in a residential rehab setting.

If an addict does not agree to addiction treatment, the group must be ready to enact some tough love. This usually involves putting an end to enabling behavior, such as financially supporting the addict or helping the addict out of troubles caused by their substance abuse. Some families may even go as far as to exclude an addict from any family activities or keep them from seeing their children until they seek treatment.

Interventionist questions

Do you have some questions for an interventionist? Are you ready to start planning an intervention for a loved one? If you still need some help, please ask us below. We’ll do our best to respond to you personally or refer you in the right direction.

Reference Sources: KingCounty: Prevention-Intervention-Treatment-Aftercare (P-I-T-A)
Thrive CHS:Wellness
Drug Addiction Treatment: Should You Hire an Addiction Intervention Specialist?
AIS: Why a Board Registered Interventionist?
Rushford Center: What is an interventionist?
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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