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An intervention is an orchestrated attempt by one or more people; usually family, friends, co-workers and an interventionist, to get someone to seek professional help with an addiction or some kind of traumatic event or crisis, or other serious problem generally associated with drugs or alcohol.  In regard to chemical dependence, intervention has a particular meaning because of the nature of the problem.  Chemical dependence is an insidious illness that creeps up on a person, creating denial and eventually self-delusion about the reality and seriousness of the situation.  This not only affects the user, but also the people closest to them.  If a loved one you know is abusing drugs or alcohol, the only options out are incarceration, death or recovery.  At this point, the affected family members may seek guidance from a professional.

What is an interventionist?

A major task of the helping-professional (interventionist) is to break through the tightly bound system of defenses so that those who care about the user can take effective action to help him or her, and to have them eventually help themselves.  This requires more than “stepping in.” Because of the nature of chemical dependence, a successful intervention must include both confrontation (about facts followed by feelings) and support.  Prior to this, another task of the interventionist is to decide what type of treatment is warranted for the individual and family and to have it in place when the intervention takes place.  This is done so the individual, after being confronted with change, can head to treatment immediately following the intervention.  An interventionist’s job is to present options to the family before there are none left, and make sure the treatment is offered the right way, to improve chances of long term success.

Who are interventions for?

Clearly intervention is for the sake of the chemically dependent person.  But it’s also for the sake of family members, close friends, coworkers, and others who are affected by that person’s drinking or using.  Finding the right treatment facility and level of care can be overwhelming in itself.  I lay out options for the family taking into account, level of care, affordability, religion, distance, likes and dislikes.  The interveners need to know they have done all they can and I become available 24/7 throughout the process and treatment to answer any questions that may come up.  The intervention process also helps those involved realize that they have the power and the right to improve their own lives, even if the user chooses not to get help.  Addiction is a family disease, meaning it affects many members surrounding the addicted individual.  An addict’s best chance of recovery starts with the loved ones getting the education they need to make informed decisions around treatment options.

Planning an intervention can be an overwhelming process.  More often than not, when a loved one of an addicted individual starts looking for help, it is because problems have grown outside of what they can handle by themselves.  During our lifetime there may be many occasions when we must tell people how their actions are hurting them or impinging on us, so that they will stop.  As difficult as it may be, we know that if we don’t step in, the behavior will continue.  As a certified interventionist and recovering heroin addict who has lived through the addiction, I can help you through the complex process of planning a successful recovery for your loved one.

If you need help planning an intervention… Call me at 262-290-1072



Detoxification (or detox) is the second step to getting treatment for addiction and substance abuse.  An interventionist can help decide if detoxification is needed and what facility is the right choice for the patient.  Detoxification is a process in which individuals are systematically and safely withdrawn from addicting drugs, usually under the care of a physician.  Drinking alcohol or using drugs causes physical dependence over time in people.  For people with a physical dependence, stopping the use of alcohol or drugs results in physical withdrawal from these substances.  In some cases, detoxification from certain substances can cause death.  The detoxification process is designed both to treat the acute physiological effects of stopping drug use safely and to remove residual toxins in the body left as a result of using the chemicals found in drugs and/or alcohol.  Detoxification can be done on both an outpatient basis (mental health centers, addiction clinics or private clinics), or inpatient (hospital or residential treatment center).  Inpatient detoxification allows the patient to be closely monitored, avoids exposure to the substance of abuse, and can speed up the process of detoxification.  Outpatient detoxification has the advantage of being less disruptive to the patient's life and less expensive.  The choice of setting depends on many factors such as the drug of abuse, amount and length of history of abuse, psychosocial issues, patient's age, and co-existing medical and/or psychiatric conditions among others.  While treatment centers often have their own detoxification facilities, others make arrangements for their patients with detoxification programs at nearby sites, including hospitals and clinics.  There are licensed detoxification facilities in most areas of the United States.  Detoxification options can include, rapid and ultra-rapid detox, medication assisted detox, Ibogaine detox and cold turkey detox.  

Signs of Opiate Withdrawal

Heroin was my drug of choice so I have a special place in my heart for recovering opiate addicts.  Heroin works by activating the opium receptors in the brain.  Heroin is so addictive because it is very similar, chemically, to the body’s own opiate-like chemicals---endorphins.  When an addict uses heroin, the heroin activates the same response as the endorphins, only more intensely, and the addict continues to use to get the same effects.  Over time, some of the receptors burn out, so the addict has to use more heroin, and use it more often, to get the same high. Moving past opiate dependence is difficult, but it can be done with help!  If addicts stop using heroin/opiates (oxycodone, morphine, fentanyl, methadone, Suboxone) they will experience both mental and physical withdrawal symptoms.  Heroin/opiate withdrawal is also known as "dope sickness," and the symptoms include chills, cold sweats, insomnia, nausea (can’t eat), agitation, anxiety, muscle pain, depression, diarrhea and vomiting.  Opiate withdrawal symptoms are not life-threatening, but they are very uncomfortable and feel as if they will last forever.  As a result, the addict will keep using to avoid getting sick.  The length of withdrawal depends on the addict, but, in general, it lasts five to seven days.  To enter a residential treatment facility, addicts must clear their systems of all illicit substances through a detox process.  Even addicts using outpatient and group methods, such as Narcotics Anonymous, need to be "clean" to begin the process of recovery.  In the case of heroin or other opiates, this means the addict needs to stop using and go through the withdrawal process so psychological treatment can begin.  There are different types of detox, but they all serve the same purpose---to get the drug out of the system and help the addict make it through withdrawal.

Signs of Alcoholism Withdrawal

These can range from mild to quite severe.  Mild reactions to alcohol detox can include tremors (the shakes), headaches, vomiting, perspiration, restlessness, loss of appetite and insomnia. More serious effects of alcohol detox can be Delirium Tremens (DT's), autonomic hyperactivity and seizures (convulsions).  It has been estimated that 1 in 4 patients are at high risk of a withdrawal seizure if not medically treated during alcohol detox.  Physical addiction to alcohol occurs with consistent drinkers.  Going in to a facility for detox from alcohol is not only necessary but it is the only way to ensure safety during the withdrawal phase, and could be dangerous/life threatening if not conducted in a medical setting.



Drug rehabilitation (often drug rehab or just rehab) is the third step in the recovery process and a main focus of the intervention.  Rehab is a term for the processes of medical or psychotherapeutic treatment, for dependency on psychoactive substances such as alcohol, prescription drugs, and street drugs such as cocaine, heroin or amphetamines.  Choosing the proper level of care and selecting the appropriate treatment can be a difficult task in itself.   As an interventionist, I help you decide what type of facility is appropriate based on the depth of the addiction, available finances, insurance coverage and nature of the individual seeking help.  The rehab process is started after the detox process.  Only after the drugs or alcohol have been removed from the patients system, can the rehab process begin.  The general intent of rehab is to enable the patient to cease substance abuse and addictive behavior, in order to avoid the psychological, legal, financial, social, spiritual and physical consequences that can be caused, especially by extreme abuse.

Psychological dependency is addressed in many drug rehabilitation programs by attempting to teach the patient new methods of interacting in a drug-free environment.  In this part of the recovery process, the patient learns new coping skills and learns how to develop a healthy support structure.  Good treatment programs encourage addicts not only to stop using alcohol or other drugs, but to examine and change habits related to their addictions.  Each program has pro’s and con’s which we talk through during the intervention process.

Various types of programs offer help in drug rehabilitation, including: residential treatment (in-patient), out-patient, intensive out-patient, partial hospitalization, local support groups, extended care centers, recovery or sober houses, addiction counseling, mental health (dual diagnosis), coaching, orthomolecular medicine (a complementary and alternative medicine that seeks to maintain health and treat addiction by optimizing nutritional intake and/or prescribing supplements) and medical care.  Some rehab centers offer age- and gender-specific programs.  I can help you decide which level of care is appropriate and help you understand why. 

Do something before things get worse.  Call any time for a free consultation… at 262-290-1072

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