Woman holding phone, looking doubtful or worried.

What information should I already have when I make that call?

Deciding to contact a professional Interventionist is a big step. It can be overwhelming to think about what type of information you should have on hand when making that phone call.  There are many things an interventionist will typically ask about in a first phone call. Be prepared to supply:

The state of your loved one’s substance use

This should include their drug(s) of choice and method of use if you know it. How much is being used, and for how long? If it’s prescription drug use, medication names can be helpful.

Basic demographic information

The interventionist will need to know their age, gender, where are they living, whether they are married/single/divorced, any children. Are they working or unemployed?

Medical history

Do they have health insurance? Are there any health conditions that need to be considered in choosing a treatment option? And (this is very important, if you know it) is there a known history of suicide and/or violence?

“Precipitating” factors or incident

Is there a reason that intervention is coming up now, such as, ‘Is the person spiraling out of control?’ ‘Has there been a recent major event as a result of use?’

An Interventionist will be trying to make sure they have all of the ‘pieces of the puzzle,’ so to speak- so that they can best educate and guide you to help your loved one. They may ask about:

  • Possible trauma in childhood and major life stressors such as deaths, divorce or major loss.
  • Have there been consequences as a result of substance abuse:  Job loss, legal issues, damage to relationships, financial struggles.
  • Who are the important people in your loved one’s life, who helps support them.

It’s important to think ahead about who should be a part of the intervention. Sometimes families are unsure who should take part in an intervention. A tragic but useful guideline might be “Who would sit in the first two pews at this person’s funeral?”

Be prepared to talk about your loved one’s personality and overall life situation-including possible objections might they have to going to treatment. Have they ever admitted they have a substance abuse problem? The more information, the better! The Interventionist will take it all in, and determine how to best tailor the process to the person being intervened on.

Questions may be asked about the people closest to the addict/alcoholic- their feelings about doing an intervention and possible protective behaviors (aka enabling). One of the goals of intervention is to get everybody on the same page and united in fighting the disease. Knowing more about where everyone is at will help the Interventionist know how to best proceed and if there are any family members who may need extra guidance in becoming comfortable with the whole process.

Even at this early stage, it will be helpful to discuss treatment, including any history of treatment. Counseling, outpatient programs, residential treatment, AA meetings etc. can all be examples of previous attempts to find recovery. There are many options for treatment and the Interventionist can help you navigate the levels of care available as well as recommending appropriate treatment centers. Many factors can go into selecting a facility including:

  • Cost
  • Location
  • Treatment philosophy
  • Dual diagnosis needs
  • Types of therapy offered, and
  • Specific interests/needs such as access to exercise, dietary preferences, spiritual/religious components, and more.

All of the information is requested to best help guide and lead your family to recovery and customize the process to your family and your loved one’s needs.

Angela Utschig is an Interventionist and owner of Wisconsin Intervention Services, based in Milwaukee, WI. She helps families throughout the Midwest and nation find recovery. You can also follow her as @twitertwotter on Twitter.



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