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Substance Use Interventions

Stop walking on eggshells...

Change the direction that your family, and the next generation, are currently headed in. Reconnect from a place of love and openness, rather than resentment and suspicion. Stop babysitting, stop policing, and start living again by getting results that last.

The first step in treating addiction is to become educated on what addiction actually is and what recovery really means. Without this understanding, families are often ill equipped and poorly prepared to take the necessary steps for sustained change - setting them up failure after failure.


Addiction is a subtle force that patiently hijacks families. Non-discriminative, it robs from individuals of all backgrounds and walks of life. The stress of addiction changes the brain chemistry of each person within the orbit of the loved one using substances. This change is passed down through altered reproductive cells that possess higher levels of stress hormones. Higher levels of stress hormones can raise blood pressure, increase risk of cardiac issues, lead to anxiety disorders, lower immune response, cause disruption to mood and sleep, and can have a negative impact on our relationships.

Recovery also changes brain chemistry within a family system – decreasing stress, increasing oxytocin (the “love” chemical) and dopamine (the “happy” chemical), and restoring critical thinking and impulse control. This neurological change takes at least one year to really see the permanent effects.


The popular attitude toward addiction treatment does not focus on the longer term needs of the patient, and certainly not their families. This creates a revolving door of treatment – where individuals continue to admit to treatment programs that are not clinically appropriate or they are not supported for an efficient length of time.

Substance use intervention in Richmond and Henrico, VA.

Why Can't They Just Stop?

Addiction rewires the brain so that the amygdala enlarges and the hippocampus atrophies. Or in other words, the part of the brain responsible for reacting and executing our fight/flight response becomes the dominant neurological function, whereas the passageway to our good thinking brain becomes less accessible. 

What this looks like:

  • Impulsivity, despite knowing better

  • Acting out in anger or rage when held accountable for actions

  • Emotional reactivity that encourages others to avoid "rocking the boat"

  • Engaging in behaviors that are incongruent to the person's personality or value system

When a person develops an addiction, the massive amounts of chemicals that are released in the brain during ingestion becomes wired within the brainstem. The brain then believes that it needs the substance to survive. It becomes obsessed with efforts to obtain and use the substance, similarly to a predator stalking prey. When a chemical becomes so deeply embedded within one's neurobiology, they become a completely different person.

Over time, loved ones in the orbit of the person with a Substance Use Disorder begin to have similar changes in their brains due to the persistent level of tension and subsequent toxic stress that taxes and overworks the good thinking brain.


This looks like:

  • Bottling up and/or exploding emotions

  • Taking out anger or anxiety on other people

  • Fixating or obsessing over their loved one's behavior

  • Strong impulses to rescue or protect their loved one from consequences

  • Persistent second guessing oneself

  • Emotionally cutting themselves off from the family

These behaviors unconsciously train family members to abide by and become indoctrinated into rules of addiction:

Don't talk. Don't trust. Don't feel.

When living by these rules, friends and family members begin to lose their sense of self, their freedom to speak their truth, their ability to trust their own perceptions, and their confidence to get their needs met. From a clinical perspective, this is called traumatization.

The word "trauma" can sometimes sound like an overreaction to folks. The reality is that most people experience something traumatic within their lifetime. Trauma can be understood as an overdose of stress hormones that never, or has yet to be, re-balanced in the nervous system. 


Prolonged trauma, like mitigating the behavioral changes of a loved one with a substance use disorder, results in a slow onset of symptoms, making it harder to recognize and measure the severity of trauma symptoms. The stress feels like a normal part of life, rather than a progressive state of being.


The good news is that the effects of trauma can be reversed. Self-care is the first step, which includes connecting with other people who get where you are, setting boundaries, and learning more about your current situation - all of which we address in an intervention relationship. 

Addiction is Treatable.

When families come together to reclaim their truth, their lives, and ultimately their sanity, they create a culture of recovery. A recovery culture draws from the deep connections and emotional bonds that exist within a family to create and enforce healthy boundaries, transparent communication, and appropriate role definition. Such an environment is hostile to using behavior.

The creation of a recovery environment takes time, perseverance, self-compassion, willingness, and bravery. It can take years to repair the relationships that have been damaged by addiction and establish a sense of "normal" that is conducive to the life you wish to live. Recovery is so much more than detoxing poisons from the body. Recovery is about respect, individuation, and authenticity. 

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How We Can Help.

According to Jeff and Debra Jay, creators of Structured Family Recovery, a well organized substance use intervention has an 85% success rate of getting a loved one to admit to treatment. While our number is a bit higher at 96%, we don't stop there. Our goal is to make sure that all the hard work of your family is sustained over time so that you never have to be in this painful place again.


Families who work with us for the full 12 months have loved ones who remain sober at 1 and 2 year follow ups, and report a profound change in their family dynamics.

Together, we will expand your family's support system to bring water to the dry well. We will walk side by side with you to find and reclaim your voice, without blame and without shame. We will provide clinical recommendations to top tier national resources, and invite you into a community of others who've been where you are. 


First 3 months:

  • Get your loved one into a clinically vetted treatment center

    • Not all treatment centers provide equal value. Our program director is a licensed therapist with advanced clinical training who holds high expectations on treatment quality. Explore the “Our Skills” tab for an idea of our clinical standards.

  • Ensure your loved one completes treatment successfully and does not prematurely discharge.

    • Most patients attempt to bargain their way out of treatment early. This would be like waking up in the middle of surgery and trying to convince the surgeon that the procedure is good enough. Most individuals will return to use after only 30 days of residential treatment. After each treatment admission, it becomes harder and harder to treat addiction. This is why we want to do it right the first time.

  • Maximize the benefits of family therapy.

    • Many families are so burnout from the constant crisis of living with and loving someone with a substance use disorder, that they can freeze up after their loved one is admitted. Or worse, a treatment center can box them out of the growth process. We continue to be involved with the treating clinical team to find windows for family involvement. We support you in finding your words, continuing to hone your power, and ask for what you need.

3-6 months:

  • Prepare for discharge by providing clinical recommendations and linking your loved one with vetted community providers for their unique ongoing needs.

  • Manage anxiety and the unexpected feelings that arise during the transition back into the community.

  • Proactively set boundaries that work, rather than make useless threats as issues arise.

  • Come out of crisis mode and settle into a sense of peace.

6-12 months:

Maintain all the changes your family has made by:

  • Continuing to collaborate with all treatment providers involved to ensure we all remain on the same page and strive for common outcomes.

  • Providing 1:1 recovery coaching with your family and loved one, via in person and virtual meetings, text, and email. (Read more about recovery coaching here).

  • Monitoring for using behaviors through daily app check ins.

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  • Monitoring the results of daily breathalyzers and random urine drug screens – testing for dilutes, medication compliance, and hard-to-test-for substances like kratom. (Read more about monitoring here)

  • Supporting your loved one in getting established with a local peer support group.

  • Facilitating forward momentum through Post Acute Withdrawal.

  • Aiding your loved one in making the most out of therapy.

Schedule a consult to see how we can help your family.


Why Can't You Just do Therapy with Them?

Early recovery is about learning the skills to manage emotions without the use of a substance, building tolerance to the shame that's been repressed for years, developing insight into how substances became the answer in the first place, and internalizing the tools necessary to abstain from old behaviors. None of this can be done effectively while the brain remains under the influence of substances. It's imperative that an individual engages in a treatment model where the intensity of treatment matches the intensity of their presenting symptoms.

The gold standard treatment model for individuals with a moderate to severe substance use disorder (see quiz above) is intensive group work. Group work is led by a qualified clinician and involves 6-10 peers at varying stages of recovery processing their current obstacles, taking accountability for old behaviors, and exploring their latent emotions that have been repressed for years. A group setting is the most efficient means of penetrating the thick armor of defenses and cognitive distortions experienced in early recovery. In individual or family therapy alone, the loved one has an opportunity to control the narrative, maintain their victim stance, and stall progress - whereas in a group setting, they feel less alone with peers who have shared experiences who can also see through their defenses. Individual therapy should be treated as an augment to group work, as well as a step-down, maintenance service. 

About Us.

Our team of substance use interventionists possesses the highest training in mental health and trauma in the Richmond area. This allows us a unique perspective and ability to assess for dual diagnosis, underlying conditions, and specialized needs that other substance use intervention professionals are unable to address.


We pride ourselves on being led by a licensed clinical mental health professional, ensuring that a code of ethics is upheld throughout our professional relationship with you.


In addition to being a licensed clinician, our leader is a national trauma expert - training treatment centers and other clinicians on trauma-informed addiction counseling. We view substance use as a branch of the trauma tree, taxing the kidney/adrenal system of the entire family through toxic stress. We integrate this framework every step of the way through a nurturing and respectful relationship together.

We draw from our nearly 50 years of combined personal recovery experience to reduce the traumatization of the intervention process, and to bring family members together through emotional bonds, rather than shame. We utilize our advanced training in family systems, neurobiology, generational trauma, internalized role atoms, and attachment to inform the complex work of harvesting recovery.

Visit our Addiction Library for more great information.

Download a copy of our free intervention workbook - designed to help you put the systems in place to kick addiction out of your life.

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Let's Get to Work

Schedule a consult and figure out the next steps toward change.

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