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How an intervention could save an addict in your life

Arch Wright joins the 'Project Recovery' podcast to talk about his past with addiction and his work as an interventionist.

If you’ve never seen “Intervention” on A&E, you might not be aware of the lengths family members will go to get their loved ones rid of addiction. While the television show may seem very dramatic, the real-life process of an intervention is absolutely world-shaking to those involved.

To try and get a better understanding of the process, the steps that are taken to ensure an intervention is successful, and how effective they actually are for addicts, the “Project Recovery” podcast sought out the help of Arch Wright, an interventionist, licensed psychotherapist, and recovery coach to answer some of our questions.

What is an interventionist?

First things first, what does an interventionist do? On the TV rendition, the interventionist is typically the host of the show. The interventionist/host gets as much information from the family as possible. Then, they attempt to build a case towards surprising the addict into rehab. According to Arch, it’s not too far off from the real-life interventionist.

“An interventionist is someone who helps loved ones and friends intervene where there is addiction to get them to go to residential treatment,” he said. “The goal is to get them in.”

Arch describes the process of intervention as working with a family member who is seeking help for their loved one. Obviously, he says, recovery becomes the final goal.

“We ask quite a few questions to figure out if we have a viable, ethically sound, intervention situation,” he said.

If Arch believes they have a “viable, ethically sound” situation, he and his team will begin to make a case.

“We put together a team, typically 3-8 people who are the most important people … in the addict’s life,” he added. “We look for leverage and influence … emotional or finance. It’s a structured, compassionate, crisis.”

Executing an intervention

Now that we know what an interventionist does, where do we go from here? Well, it all comes down to the surprise and breaking down the addict’s walls. Arch believes that overcoming that wall of denial is imperative.

“The way people recover is to have a crisis in their life where that denial gets cracked open, ” he said.

Ultimately, the goal of the intervention is to cut through the denial and get help.

The surprise needs to be perfect, according to Arch.

“Don’t talk to family members, don’t talk to anybody until you’ve done some [research],” he advised. “Because the cat gets out of the bag real fast that an intervention is coming along.”

How effective is an intervention?

While Arch believes that 85-90% of interventions end in the addict leaving for a recovery center, there is no definitive data available to showcase that. Some of the most intriguing data regarding statistics surrounding interventions come from the actual television show, “Intervention.” In 2015, the show had a 98.7% treatment rate and out of those, 55% remained clean and sober.

But due to the various levels of subjectivity within each intervention, “success” is usually relative, he says. It’s based on the addict attempting treatment and that number just isn’t out there yet. It’s safe to say though, according to Arch, that if you know of someone who is struggling with addiction, an intervention can be a great next step into getting an addict the help they need.

When is the perfect time for an intervention?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a foolproof guidebook on handling recovery or addiction. If you are on the fence regarding bringing in an interventionist, Arch believes it’s time when “your gut tells you that you’re really afraid for a loved one and you’re afraid for tomorrow.”

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, you can find more information on Facebook and on KSL TV. You can also visit Arch’s website, Recovery Elevated Solutions, to find information specific to interventions.

To hear more from Casey Scott and Dr. Matt Woolley, you can listen below or subscribe to the ‘Project Recovery’ podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get major podcasts.