Five Reasons Not to Try an Addiction Intervention without a Professional

Many people watch shows such as A&Es Intervention and think, “I could do that.” They may not realize just how little of the process they are seeing. TV lends itself to 1-hour stories that are easily wrapped up, with a neatly structured beginning, middle, and end. However, real life does not work that way. An intervention is a highly charged experience that can turn into a disaster if you do not have a qualified specialist to help guide you and steer you clear of landmines and cliffs.

Here are five good reasons to hire an intervention specialist rather than try it on your own.

1. Family members and loved ones often disagree as to how to approach the addict; and sometimes their hidden agendas undermine the process.

One of the critical parts of an intervention is the pre-intervention phase. This is when the interventionist interviews all the involved parties and begins to identify potential conflicts and roadblocks. A highly qualified interventionist will be adept at identifying family members or loved ones who might be enablers, or who might be easily manipulated by the addict. Without that neutral third-party, an intervention can quickly turn ugly, with family members turning on each other rather than creating a united front determined to get the addicted person help.

2. After years or even decades of developing ways to keep using drugs or alcohol, the addict has become an expert at manipulating friends and family, and they can be very convincing.

The interventionist will not be fooled by promises, pledges, or other techniques used by addicts to push off the inevitable. They won’t be tempted to make deals. They have set the goal to get the person into treatment, and that is the only acceptable outcome. When the addict begs, cajoles, pleads, and promises, many family members will begin to doubt themselves. The interventionist keeps them on the right track: we didn’t go to all this trouble just to scare the addict and hope for the best. The interventionist knows addicts do not get well on their own just because they make a promise.

3. In some cases, the intervention can turn violent

The professional interventionist will screen for the potential for violence and prepare in advance for any issues that could threaten the safety of family members or friends. If you are sure your loved one will not turn violent, ask yourself if they have done other things you were sure they would never do. When an addict is threatened, it is possible they will lash out aggressively to get out of the intervention. You want a professional guiding the process, one who will, as a neutral party, be able to better determine if the threat is real or the threat is empty.

4. Family members tend to make demands they can’t enforce; interventionists know exactly how to use the right leverage to motivate someone to get treatment

A classic case is when family members threaten to take away someone’s kids and never let them see them again. What if the addict says ok, that’s fine? What do you do then if he or she calls your bluff? Have you hired an attorney to follow through with the threat? Do you have the power to even do this? There are many ways panicked family members can fall into a trap, and the addict, always on the lookout for escape routes, will slam the door and leave you stuck. Now what do you do? Shrug your shoulders and go home?

In a professional intervention there’s no winging it – it’s all planned out and every contingency is considered.

5. This might be the only chance you get to convince a loved when to get treatment. Do you want to risk blowing it?

Maybe things will go the way you hope they will. Maybe your loved one will say, OK, I’ll go to treatment. But you are not a professional. You are very emotionally close to the problem. The likelihood of success is greatly increased when you have a professional interventionist guide you. What if you fail and never get another chance? Addiction is a life-or-death situation eventually – sometimes sooner than we expect. If you are serious about helping your loved one get treatment, do your research and find a qualified, effective interventionist to improve the odds of getting the outcome you know your loved one needs.