Do You Need An Interventionist

Interventionists provide many valuable services that go beyond convincing your son or daughter to go to rehab, so you may want to consider hiring one if you're about to address their drinking or drug use. 

Parents mainly bring in an interventionist when they perceive their son or daughter are treatment-resistant and afraid of having a bad reaction when they find out rehab is in their immediate future. 

Teenagers and young adults are highly manipulative people and have no problem getting their parents to reverse course when confronted about their addiction problem. They will do anything to preserve their right to continue using drugs or drinking, including threatening self-harm and suicide to end an undesirable conversation. 

Threats are an effective tactic because the thought of your son or daughter hurting themselves because of something you did will stop you in your tracks. Even lesser threats such as them threatening to cut off communication with you or shacking up with an undesirable boyfriend or girlfriend can be a show stopper. 

These behaviors are not only true of kids who need treatment; spouses, siblings, and parents can also present nightmare scenarios when they are confronted about their drinking or using; naturally, children have the most leverage. 

I advise families before an intervention that we are starting from a disadvantage because of how addiction corrupts the addict's brain. The disease reshuffles their brain's priorities, placing their drug of choice above other necessities such as food and shelter. This example explains how educated kids from good families end up homeless.

If you attempt to intervene on your son or daughter without a professional interventionist and it's unsuccessful, the opportunity for them to have a fatal overdose, get hurt in an accident, or end up in jail will be increased. Not to mention the incredible stress you're going to experience until you know they're in a safe place.

Having a professional interventionist by your side will reduce the uncertainty and stress that come along with confronting someone about their addiction. This conversation is familiar ground for interventionists, and they are equipped to respond adequately in these situations. 

Additionally, teenagers and young adults tend to be less hostile when being met by an unfamiliar person who they presume is a professional there for their benefit. However, even in the presence of a professional, people on the receiving end of intervention can still be difficult, so never assume it's an easy case. 

I usually have a "difficulty factor" in my head going into an intervention based on what I know about the individual being intervened on and what I have observed working with the family. This factor is not something I share with the intervention participants; it's just part of my thought process. Either way, I always prepare for the worst-case scenario.

The benefits of an experienced interventionist should be apparent in your first conversation with them. They should be asking a lot of questions so they can fully understand your family's circumstances.  

Some of the things I ask about in the first conversation are a history of addiction, previous treatment attempts, depression, anxiety, suicide attempts or self-harm, marital status, previous legal problems, prior hospitalizations, children, education, work history, relationships, health insurance and the family's ability to pay for treatment, etc. 

Even when your son or daughter is willing to go to treatment or even asked for help, an interventionist can have tremendous value. I have worked on numerous cases where an intervention was not necessary. 

Having an interventionist manage the case or act as a project manager can yield several benefits. For starters, it takes a lot of pressure off the parents because they don't have to worry as much about making a bad treatment decision. Interventionists visit twenty or thirty treatment centers every year and know which ones are good and which ones to avoid.

In getting to know a family, I start to envision where their son or daughter will receive the best care based on their individual needs and equally as important where I think they are going to like being.

If your son or daughter loves being outdoors and is a hiker or skier, there are excellent treatment options in Colorado and Utah that will allow them to have these experiences. If they are a surfer or beach person, there are fantastic treatment centers in Florida and California. 

If they fancy themselves a cowboy or cowgirl, a rehab near Dallas or Austin where they can have equine therapy may be just what the doctor ordered. Many people are afraid of being forced into a hospital setting instead of somewhere that is spiritual.

Even though you are upset with your son or daughter for how they have behaved while drinking and using, placing them in a treatment center where they will engage in the experiences and the therapeutic community is good.

Families are sometimes resistant to sending someone to treatment somewhere that appears to be too comfortable but don't forget they wouldn't have been hurting themselves with drugs and alcohol and sometimes self-harm if they weren't in emotional pain. Maybe your son or daughter needs to be shown that life can be fun, or they can find happiness again.

When I arrived at treatment in 2004, I was in tremendous emotional pain. Drugs and alcohol had stopped working years ago, and I was sick with guilt and shame, and while I had stepped on some toes along the way, I was broken and needed support and not punishment. 

The other place an interventionist is going to be valuable is when it comes time to transport your son or daughter to treatment. Transporting them to rehab is not something you want to do yourself, especially if they are treatment-resistant. 

I have heard stories of parents bringing their kids to treatment out of state and not having the strength to leave them there. Such a scenario is scary on multiple levels, including the possibility of that kid continuing to use dangerous drugs and risk his life. 

I tell parents if you transport your kid to treatment, you may have hours of constant manipulation and negotiation as opposed to when they leave with me; there is no further discussion. How they behave in my company may be vastly different from how they act with their parents. 

A final consideration in hiring an interventionist is the ongoing support you will receive while your son or daughter is in treatment and beyond. Getting your son or daughter into treatment is just the very beginning of a long journey. 

I advise families to expect the initial recovery period to be one year; ninety days of residential treatment, sixty to ninety days of intensive outpatient (IOP), and another 180 in sober or structured living.  

Three days into treatment, your son or daughter will call you saying the treatment facility is worse than prison and they would rather be homeless than in this rehab. They will tell you that everybody there is a hardcore drug addict and how you've made a mistake picking this place. 

They are going to do everything they can to manipulate and guilt you into rescuing them. If you pull your kid out of treatment, you may have just signed their death certificate. A good interventionist will prepare you for this inevitability and make sure you are ready for when it happens. 

I advise my clients to hang up on their kids if the pressure becomes too much or if they think they're going to cave. Then to call me to find out what is going on, which will likely tell me there's nothing to be concerned about.

In closing, if you're considering sending your son or daughter or another member of your family to treatment and you can engage an interventionist, it's a good investment that will help you reduce the possibility of mistakes and increase the chances of a successful outcome. 

Marc Kantor is a certified interventionist and the founder of South Florida Intervention. He works with families impacted by the devastating effects of addiction. To learn how you can help someone you care about recover from addiction, call 202-390-2273 or visit