The Family Plan
Angie Jakubowski is a faith-based clinical interventionist, contacted by family members who want to see an addicted loved one obtain help for self-destructive behavior.
In an intervention, relatives reach out to an adult child or adolescent in denial, inviting that person to a family meeting. No abduction or ambush is involved. During the gathering, relatives describe how they are being impacted by the addict’s consumption of alcohol or drugs. They also explain how if there is no treatment, their beloved child or sibling will wind up incarcerated — or dead.
“Intervention is putting a process in place for the family to be able to begin to heal,” Jakubowski says. “Everyone must understand how addiction works and how to respond to it effectively for the recovery process to begin.”
If the confronted individual refuses to participate, family members need to erect boundaries to keep from enabling the behavior, Jakubowski says. That could mean stopping the practices of paying bills, providing housing, or making meals, she says.
Jakubowski would have benefited from an intervention herself when growing up in a chaotic household. With various dysfunctional relatives in the home hooked on booze or cocaine, Jakubowski began drinking at the age of 13. Years of wild living, poverty, and estrangement among the kin followed.
“I spiraled out of control into all kinds of sins,” Jakubowski says. “I tried to find my value in men and alcohol.”
Ultimately, Angie’s sister Sherry, who found freedom from addiction after beginning a relationship with God, invited Jakubowski to church. She accepted one Sunday morning, still hung over from a Saturday night drinking binge.
“I kept going back to church, and God began transforming me,” Jakubowski says. “I wanted to be in every service. My desire to be in bars or clubs ended by divine intervention. God delivered me from any desire to drink alcohol or have sexual relationships.”
Instead, Jakubowski focused on education, earning a bachelor’s degree and multiple certifications en route to becoming an intervention specialist. She currently is finishing her Master’s of Strategic Leadership and operates her own practice, Restorative Interventions in Schuylkill Haven, Pennsylvania. Joel Jakubowski, her husband of six years, assists her part time.
Typically, finding a treatment center for the addict, sometimes with a detoxification beforehand, follows an intervention.
In a six-month continuing care follow-up primarily by phone, the Restorative Interventions staff help family members work together. In an effort to stop the addictive cycle from continuing, they present families with recovery choices such as connections to support groups or counseling.
“Often, for the first time ever, family members are speaking aloud about the issue,” Jakubowski says.
Jakubowski says intervention is a family issue because even if the addicted member obtains effective treatment, he or she quickly can slide back into old bad habits if relatives are still dysfunctional.
“Addiction begins as a choice and becomes a disease,” says Jakubowski, 44.
Joseph S. Batluck Sr., president of Assemblies of God U.S. Missions Teen Challenge International, U.S.A., notes that interventionists point out to all family members what isn’t healthy or helpful in how they act or react.
“In many cases, the family can be part of the problem,” Batluck says. “The family itself can become part of the addiction cycle.”
Batluck says the backgrounds of both Joel and Angie Jakubowski help them to convince substance abusers it’s time to get help.
“They are doing great ministry together,” Batluck says of the Jakubowskis.