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Parents Ask: Should I Hire an Interventionist to Help My Teen Get into Rehab?

Family talking with counselor

If you’ve ever watched the A&E TV series “Intervention,” you may be familiar with the idea of assembling the loved ones of someone who grapples with addiction and trying to convince them to get help. While the interventions you see on TV usually make for entertaining drama, interventions don’t always play out that way in real life.

What Is an Intervention?

Interventions are structured conversations intended to help teenager’s overcome denial about his or her substance misuse. The idea behind an intervention is to communicate to an individual the impact that their behavior is having on their life, career, family and relationships. Interventions are also intended to change negative behaviors.

While parents and other family members are typically involved in interventions, counselors, teachers or close friends (who don’t consume drugs or alcohol) can also be included. These people work together to achieve a predetermined goal, which is usually to convince an adolescent to seek treatment for their substance use disorder.

Preparation Is Key

Intervention should not be casual, unorganized or unmoderated. These types of proceedings tend to become overly emotional, veer off track quickly and elicit defensiveness and pushback from the teenager. Such interventions can often do more harm than good if the individual freezes out their loved ones or increases their substance use.

Instead, interventions should be thoughtfully planned, carefully prepared and diligently rehearsed. Participants are usually encouraged to write thoughtful letters that are to be read during the intervention or refer to notes or cue cards as they speak to the teen. The time and place of the intervention should be set strategically, preferably in a setting where the teenager is somewhat unfamiliar — like a church, office or neighbor’s home — and when the teen is not under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

During an intervention, it is essential that participants stick to the preplanned script and keep a tight grip on their emotions. While explaining their viewpoints and feelings, they should use non-blaming language, maintain steady voices and offer one or two specific examples about when the teen’s behavior impacted them negatively.

Angry young man

Interventions are often a good step toward getting your teen into addiction treatment if needed.

The Value of Interventionists

It’s not uncommon for parents to enlist the aid of a person who has experience moderating teen interventions. These interventionists have the skills and knowledge necessary to facilitate a smooth, fruitful intervention process.

According to the Association of Intervention Specialists (AIS), the success rate of interventions moderated by a specialist is between 80 and 90 percent. Though there hasn’t been much independent research conducted on the efficacy of interventions, some studies have indicated that these measures tend to be more successful for teens who experience mild to moderate substance misuse rather than severe addiction.

Even if a teen refuses to enter outpatient or inpatient drug rehab during an intervention, they might acquiesce after a few days of thought and reflection. Taking this important step largely depends on the temperament, maturity and character of the individual.

As a parent, it’s up to you whether to stage an intervention for your teen or hire an interventionist to oversee the process. But it’s important to keep in mind that if your teenager is unable to give up drugs or alcohol on their own, then it may become necessary to bring in an expert who is better equipped to accomplish that goal.

An intervention is one approach to helping a teenager who may deal with substance misuse. Contact Next Generation Village for more information about all the options available for teens.

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