John Southworth’s career in the field of addiction medicine began over 40 years ago, when he chose to fight back against his own addiction and obtain training he could use in order to help others find their own path toward recovery. He has a particular interest in helping people who have both addictions as well as mental health issues.
Southworth is a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor. He is also a Nationally Certified Addictions Counselor, and an Internationally Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor, Level 1. He is also a Board Registered Interventionist, Level II, and he is a member of the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium.
Southworth began working as an interventionist in 1984, and since that time, he’s performed hundreds of interventions, both in the United States as well as abroad. He also works hard to educate lawmakers and members of the community about addiction. He’s spoken to the House of Lords in Great Britain, as well as the United Kingdom European Symposium on Addictive Disorders.
In his work, Southworth focuses on encouraging clients to accept the help that rehab can provide, but he also focuses on educating family members about the addictive process. He finds that families also struggle with inertia and denial, just as addicted people do, and the whole family must learn, grow and heal together. The education that Southworth provides during the planning stages of the intervention can help families to get started on that process.
While Southworth has a large body of work to draw upon, he remains committed to learning more about addiction and using that knowledge to provide even more profound help to his clients. In order to help him stay up-to-date, he’s a member of Reach Foundation in California, as well as the Western Federation of Physician Health Programs and the Association of Intervention Specialists.
A certified alcohol and drug counselor (CADC) and board registered interventionist (level II), John Southworth earned his certification from the National Association of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Counselors in 1984. John founded Southworth Associates International in 1998. Based in Boise, Idaho, the company provides interventions, consulting and monitoring services worldwide. In the last three decades he’s conducted hundreds of successful interventions, both nationally and internationally. In addition to his work as a sought-after interventionist, John provides training on drug abuse and awareness for school employees, local communities, physicians, nurses and other professionals.
What makes you passionate about recovery?
Watching someone get into recovery. I love the magic of when they finally surrender and get into long-term recovery. That’s the most rewarding thing there is.
What’s your favorite thing about your job?
Working with the disease itself—whether it’s the family or employer—the disease affects everyone. Working with those affected, that’s what I love.
What would you say to families going through the process of intervention with a loved one?
Trust the process. Let the experts do the work and follow their instructions. It’d be like if your doctor is going to take out your son’s appendix; you don't run into the operating room and take the scalpel out of his hand and tell him how to do it. Leave it to the pros who have a lot of experience.
What’s your daily routine?
I answer the phone, emails and texts pretty much 24-7. Helping families, consulting, monitoring, marketing—we do it all.
What do you do to stay energized during the day?
Take care of myself and get the rest and proper diet that I need.
What are your hobbies outside of work?
I used to play golf, but now just hanging out with friends, going to support meetings. My life is about recovery. I live and breathe it.
If you could travel anywhere, where would it be?
I’ve already been there. I’ve been all over the world, but my favorite spot is Bora Bora.
If you were stranded on a desert island and you could only take three books with you, what would you choose?
AA’s Big Book, The Quiet Mind and The Road Less Traveled.
How do you know when someone is “getting it” in the intervention process?
In the early intervention, there’s not much you can see there. It’s later in recovery when they finally start listening instead of talking. That’s what I call surrender.
What advice do you have for people who are entering treatment today?
Follow the experts. Do what they say, and quit running the show.
What advice do you have for people who are struggling to maintain recovery?
Get to more meetings. Call your sponsor. Do what you’re told to do. Don’t fight it, just go with the flow. And ask for help.
How have you been inspired by people in recovery?
Just seeing how they progress and how well they do and how they grab on to recovery like a nice warm coat and start walking the walk rather than just talking the talk.
Favorite quote/best advice you’ve ever received?
“When in turmoil or in doubt, do nothing.” – White Eagle, The Quiet Mind