04/19/2012 11:08 am ET Updated Jun 19, 2012

Fighting Addiction

There is hope! The most important thing for families battling with substance abuse and mental health-related issues to have is hope. The hope that with the right care plan and a commitment to recovery by all concerned parties, things can and will get better. The challenge for most families is trying to make those plans with a clear mind and present them with a unified approach. The reality is that it is next to impossible to watch a loved one spiral out of control without being emotionally impacted. And with as many different treatment programs and options to choose from as there are opinions within any given family, coming together with a unified approach can be as difficult as having a clear mind.

You are not alone. As a board-registered interventionist and licensed psychotherapist, I travel all across the country meeting with families from all different walks of life trying to function within a chaotic darkness and deafening despair of substance abuse and mental illness. Initially, people reach out to me with the hope that I will be able to somehow "get through" to the person in crisis, using my "special mojo" to simply carry them out of denial and onto a waiting plane headed for treatment. The simple truth is that the success of the intervention process lies almost exclusively within the collective loving power of the family to hold healthy boundaries.

It is going to get better. Without question, and contrary to what you may see on television, the most challenging part of my work is not trying to convince someone to go to treatment. By the time someone is physically dependent on dope or booze to make it through the day, they know that the party is over. My job then becomes to therapeutically help get them off of the floor, wipe up the schmutz with some insight, and then find them a safe way home, back to sobriety, after everyone else has left. And by the time someone has lost the desire to perform basic daily functions, the same could be said about a person going through a bout of depression, or even in the middle of a psychotic break.

Help is out there. In my opinion, the most challenging part of the intervention process is working with the family to help them work through and begin the process of overcoming all of the layers of maladaptive patterns of communication and resentment, by now rooted deeply in the fabric of the family dynamic. In other words, everyone involved should be willing to look at their own stuff in order to create a truly recovery-oriented environment. Once that has been established, the interventionist is then able to help the person suffering with symptoms of substance abuse and/or mental illness crossover and essentially accept the help that they themselves know that they so desperately need.