Lifeskills South Florida has been fortunate to work with Heather Hayes on numerous cases involving mental health and trauma and the role they play in addiction. Heather is an International Certified Hostage Negotiator, and the founder of Heather R. Hayes & Associates, where she helps adolescents/young adults and individuals suffering from trauma, complex mental health issues, and addictive disorders across the spectrum.
Heather presents nationally and internationally on the topics of co-occurring/psychiatric disorders, addiction, trauma, eating disorders, adolescent/young adult issues, and more. Recently she sat down with Klay Weaver, Lifeskills CEO, to talk about the parallels between her work as a hostage negotiator, and a nation held hostage by addiction. As a negotiator, she wants to save lives, get people out of traumatic situations safely, and have no losses; the same goal holds true in the world of addiction.
Everything around someone suffering from a substance abuse disorder is held hostage, including their mind, their body, their family, and their job; it is all-consuming. Heather says the hardest thing for a family is to watch their loved one kill themselves over time, and they need hope and understanding for their unique situation. Interventions are more difficult than a hostage situation, as there is more complexity, more denial, impaired brain chemistry, and family dynamics. It is a balancing act to be respectful and not shame someone but to move them toward getting the help they need to overcome their addiction.