Lately I have pondered this question: Why am I so often effective at reaching my goal of getting a person who has substance use disorder, who is resistant to treatment, into rehab?
First, I think, it is my 13 years of performing this job that is helpful.
Like all professions, most people hone their skills by working in their chosen profession.
But I believe it is more than that.
From the moment I get a call from a family member or loved one about the person in need of an intervention, I carry that person inside of me until we meet. I silently internalize all I am learning about the patient, both through extensive interviews with the family about the patient and also (and this is where I believe a big part of my success comes from) because I am walking with the patient and working out in my mind the best way to approach him or her. This is done on a gut—an instinctual—level if you will.
I grew up in a family where I was enveloped by substance-use disorder and became sick with the disease as well. That experience has been invaluable to me in understanding the dynamics taking place in the family, giving me the skills to deal with the group. This, I believe, is where my instincts were born out of that I now use for the good of other families suffering from substance-use disorder.
For me personally, there is no greater passion then taking something dark in my past life and using those challenges to bring hope and light to another family.
Then there are the pragmatics that aid me in my skill as an interventionist. As a former registered nurse in an alcohol and drug rehab, I have the ability to make sure the patient is physically capable of being admitted to a rehab instead of a hospital first.
Then there is little Lucy, my five-pound Chihuahua. If appropriate, she is with me. Lucy transmits unconditional love to people who internally have no love left for themselves. I have literally seen people’s despair blossom to a place of hope with little Lucy sitting in their lap on the way to rehab.
My attitude as I approach an intervention, first with the family, then with the patient, is one of hope and celebration. An intervention is a time of hopeful renewal and change—not gloom and doom or threats.
An intervention is about new beginnings with a solid plan on how and where to go to get help. And above all else, an intervention is facilitated in a nonjudgmental manner, transmitted with respect and love.