What Is An Addiction Interventionist?

An addiction interventionist is a professional who leads an addicted individual to accept treatment for their drug or alcohol problem. The role of the interventionist is to find the best people — usually family and close friends —  to help the person battling addiction without seeking help on their own. 

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Essentially, the interventionist creates a recovery team that helps get the addicted person to accept treatment and begin the road to recovery. 

The main purpose of an interventionist is not to conduct the intervention program on their own, but rather get the addicted person to accept treatment. This is done mainly by changing the dynamics between friends and family who want to aid in recovery. 

Most importantly, an interventionist is hired and utilized on behalf of the family’s wishes, not on behalf of the addicted person themself.

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When to Hire an Addiction Interventionist For Your Loved One

Some people are able to recognize that they need help for their addiction and seek treatment on their own. But many others are unable to do so and typically require an intervention. 

If you suspect somebody is struggling with a drug or alcohol-related addiction, they may benefit from an intervention. 

It is often difficult to determine when someone needs an intervention for addiction treatment. Fortunately, a professional interventionist can help. An interventionist is essential if the person suffering from the addiction also has a history of the following:

  • Serious mental illness
  • Violence or aggressiveness
  • Suicidal behaviors or actions
  • Engaging in mood-altering substance abuse

People who have experienced one or more of these conditions can be unpredictable in an intervention. Professional help should be sought from an interventionist to help begin the treatment process. 

If you are unsure if a situation requires an interventionist, consult with a medical professional to determine if one is needed. Failure to hire an interventionist when necessary could lead to avoidable problems on the path to recovery.

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Types of Intervention Services

There are four common forms of intervention:

Simple intervention 

Simple intervention usually involves one or more family members confronting the addicted person. The goal is to help them face their addiction and begin the treatment and recovery process.

Classical intervention

A classical intervention usually involves planning from everyone involved, except the addicted person. The attendees will meet up before the official intervention to plan. This intervention technique also often utilizes a certified intervention professional, which offers support not only to the addicted person, but also the relatives and close friends involved.

Family system intervention

Family system interventions are useful when multiple people in a family are struggling with addiction, as it also helps repair damaged family bonds. The person or people suffering from addiction benefit from the altered family experience and often find increased motivation to recover through this comprehensive support system.

Crisis intervention 

Crisis interventions are impromptu interventions that occur when an acute crisis makes it clear that rehab is immediately necessary. The main goal in these situations is to optimize safety and get the affected person help as soon as possible.

In addition to these forms of intervention, there are four official models that professional interventionists use in conjunction with families and friends of the addicted individual. The intervention needed depends on the severity of the situation and the willingness of the individual. 

These four intervention models include:

  • Johnson Model — friends and family confront addict at surprise intervention
  • Arise Model — family comes together to address the situation without surprising the addict
  • Invitation Model — friends and family invite the addict to a meeting with an interventionist
  • Love First Model — family and friends share letters written to the addict at an intervention
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Benefits of Addiction Intervention

There are many benefits of addiction intervention — and it may end up saving the life of a loved one. 

People struggling with addiction often find it difficult to reach out for help. An intervention may be the only way for an individual to get help before it is too late. 

In addition to their effectiveness for helping addicts, interventions may also help families and close friends of addicts by: 

  • Allowing them to air out grievances 
  • Express pent-up feelings or concerns caused by the addiction 

Is Interventionism Effective for Substance Addiction?

Interventionism is effective for both substance and alcohol addiction. With that being said, there are important things to consider when thinking about staging an intervention.

If an intervention is not done properly, it will not only undermine its effectiveness and potentially lead to sustained substance use, but it could also strain family relationships. 

Interventions are emotionally charged. Members of the intervention team strive to describe details of how the addiction is causing pain and suffering in their own respective lives. Itemizing specific details often helps addicted people understand the harmful nature of their behavior that affects the people they love. 

Independent research shows that up to 90 percent of interventions guided by professionals will succeed in getting the addicted person to accept treatment. 

What Happens After an Intervention?

After a successful intervention, there are several addiction treatment options available to aid the individual through recovery. The first step is to begin detox, where the affected individual can begin to cleanse their system of the substance being abused. This can be done at a residential treatment center or under the care and watch of medical professionals. 

Depending on the substance and the severity of the addiction, detox can also be done at home by the individual. However, this is not recommended because withdrawal symptoms can be serious and should be managed by medical professionals. 

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NIDA. "Types of Treatment Programs." National Institute on Drug Abuse, 3 Jun. 2020, https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/drug-addiction-treatment-in-united-states/types-treatment-programs

NIAAA. “A Pocket Guide for Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/practitioner/PocketGuide/pocket_guide.htm

AAP. “Substance Use Screening and Brief Intervention for Youth.” American Academy of Pediatrics. https://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/fetal-alcohol-spectrum-disorders-toolkit/Pages/Substance-Use-Screening.aspx

Levy S, Bagley S. Substance use: initial approach in primary care. In: Adam HM, Foy JM, eds. Signs and Symptoms in Pediatrics. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2015:887–900. DSM-5, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition; NIAAA, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

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Updated on: January 25, 2021
Jordan Flagel
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Medically Reviewed
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Annamarie Coy,
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