What Is a Substance Abuse Interventionist?

Last Updated on October 22, 2021

People who suffer from addiction are often in denial about the severity of their substance abuse. If someone is resistant to addressing their addiction, it can be challenging to interrupt their self-destructive behaviors. However, loved ones can help encourage treatment and facilitate the start of healing by hosting an intervention.

If you find yourself in this situation, an intervention may help your loved one accept treatment. However, done incorrectly, it also has the potential to make things worse. A certified and credentialed substance abuse interventionist can help you ensure that your intervention has a higher chance of succeeding. 

Related post: How to Host a Heroin Addiction Intervention

What is a substance abuse interventionist?

A substance abuse interventionist is a professional facilitator or guide for your intervention. According to the Association of Intervention Specialists (AIS), an interventionist “supports, educates, provides guidance, direction, and training, and facilitates the intervention and aftercare.”1 

If you have a loved one that is resistant to addressing their addiction problem, an interventionist can help. This type of professional will help determine the appropriate format for an effective intervention. They’ll also take the lead on planning it, guide your family through the structure, and then facilitate the intervention with your loved one. In short, an interventionist can help you and your family plan, prepare and host an intervention.

What qualifications does a substance abuse interventionist have?

Many interventionists are board-certified through the Association of Intervention Specialists. Full members of this association are Certified Intervention Professionals. This means they have a high level of education, training, and supervised experience. They also adhere to the AIS code of ethics, which ensures that they comply with legal and ethical standards by acting with honesty and integrity.

Some interventionists also have a background in therapy or counseling and have managed several different interventions. This professional experience can be beneficial. Someone with such a history may be easier to talk to. They are also likely to have excellent listening skills that make you feel heard and understood.

Not all substance abuse interventionists are board-certified or have professional qualifications. As a result, it’s important to do your research and check before hiring someone to help you host an intervention. A great way to find reputable interventionists is to ask for references through former clients or a treatment center, like Nova Recovery Center.

What does a substance abuse interventionist do?

A substance abuse interventionist does several things to improve the likelihood that your intervention will succeed, including:2

  • Helping you determine who is involved in the intervention
  • Organizing the format of the intervention
  • Gathering information about your loved one’s addiction and treatment options
  • Assisting members of the intervention team as they determine what they want to say to the addicted loved one and how to say it
  • Helping members of the intervention team determine and communicate appropriate boundaries if your loved one refuses to get help
  • Facilitating the intervention meeting
  • Following up to help support your loved one and ensure that they stay in treatment and avoid relapse

Different interventionists may use various intervention methods and formats to address your loved one’s addictions. Before you agree to work with an interventionist, you should ask them about the methods they use, what they entail, and make sure you feel comfortable doing so.

How can an intervention help my loved one recover from addiction?

The purpose of an intervention is to convince your loved one to seek professional help for their addiction. During an intervention, you and close family members and friends have the opportunity to confront the addicted individual and describe how their substance abuse has directly affected you and harmed the relationship.

Interventions can be scary and intimidating due to the strong emotions that revolve around addiction and how it affects families. However, it’s often a necessary step to help your loved one see how their addiction affects others and themselves.

Ideally, an intervention will be a calm, respectful, and straightforward discussion with your addicted loved one. In the end, they will choose to attend a treatment program, like residential rehab or IOP. Or, they will refuse. If they refuse to get help for their substance abuse, the interventionist will encourage you to uphold any boundaries you communicated during the intervention.

For example, you may have expressed that you will no longer financially support your loved one if they continue to abuse drugs. Or, you may have said that you won’t cover up for them anymore when they miss work due to their drinking.

Do I need a substance abuse interventionist?

Although you can always host an intervention on your own, conducting one with the help of a professional may be preferable. For example, it may be a good idea to use a Certified Intervention Professional if your loved one:

  • Has a history of mental illness
  • May be taking mood-altering drugs
  • May react violently
  • Has displayed suicidal behaviors recently or in the past

A substance abuse interventionist is highly trained and skilled to facilitate successful intervention techniques. Suppose you suspect that your loved one may respond to an intervention with anger or frustration. In that case, it’s always helpful to have a trained professional there with you to help diffuse those emotions and maintain a neutral environment for productive discussion.

Ultimately, the goal of an intervention is to get your loved one into treatment. With the proper training and experience, a substance abuse interventionist will use their professional knowledge and skills to help guide, educate, and support your family. They’ll also help you determine and access the best treatment options for your loved one.

How do I find a substance abuse interventionist?

To find a qualified substance abuse interventionist, you can ask your doctor, medical professional, or an addiction treatment center for a referral. AIS also has a member directory you can use to search for local certified interventionists near you. (You can find that directory here.)

At Nova Recovery Center, our expert team is always available to assist you in searching for ways to help an addicted loved one. We frequently pair our clients with professional interventionists to help them find the most effective treatment based on their loved one’s financial ability and individual circumstances.

After you call our admissions team, we’ll provide appropriate options for local trustworthy and professional interventionists. We’ll also help guide you to someone who’s an excellent fit for you and your family. The last thing we want is for you to feel pressured, so we’ll take the necessary time to thoroughly review your options with you and discuss them to ensure you find the right person to assist you. 

Related post: How to Write An Intervention Letter For Your Loved One

Help a loved one overcome addiction

If you’re searching for a way to help your addicted loved one, working with a professional substance abuse interventionist may be the first step to healing. It’s never easy to confront a loved one’s addiction. Still, with the help of our compassionate addiction treatment experts and an experienced board-certified interventionist, we can help make the process easier.

To learn more about intervention assistance through Nova Recovery Center, please call (888) 427-4932 to speak with a member of our admissions team.


  1. https://www.associationofinterventionspecialists.org/learn-about-intervention/ 
  2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mental-illness/in-depth/intervention/art-20047451

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