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Intervention: Setting the Stage for Recovery

Photo: Courtesy of Mitchell Hollander

Substance abuse can sometimes be a manifestation of an undiagnosed mental illness.

Plan for treatment

Intervention is the process of helping a loved one find a safe treatment program for a family member or a friend who is struggling with substance abuse disorder and accompanying mental illness. It is often the first step in establishing a plan for treatment and paving the path to recovery.

The purpose of an intervention is to get substance abusers out of denial, show them the ways in which the disease is affecting the people they love the most, and get them into the level of treatment they need. The intervention process does not have to be painful or confrontational but it can be the beginning of a new way of living for both the substance abuser and his/her family and friends. I provide guidance and coach families in a kind and gentle confrontation that is both evidence-based and has a very high success rate.

No erasing trauma

Often, individuals who are dealing with chemical dependency are also struggling with a co-occurring disorder such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or PTSD. In other words, there are very often underlying emotional or mental health issues that can put people at high risk or be the primary cause for an addiction. We can no longer ignore the deep personal pain and trauma that filters through the lives of someone with substance use disorder. While there is no erasing trauma, the focus of treatment needs to be around addressing the perceived feelings of hopelessness brought on by trauma.

Using an evidence-based approach, I gather a family history to develop an understanding of why a person is drawn to certain substances. I believe we need to look at substance use as a possible symptom of a greater underlying issue and follow the trail of breadcrumbs to a possibly previously overlooked cause. As an interventionist, I view substance use – whether alcohol, opioids, Cannabis, or any mind-altering drug of choice – as a symptom of an underlying issue/trauma that is very likely driving the addiction.

Woody Giessmann, [email protected]

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