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Drug & Alcohol Intervention Programs

Substance abuse intervention can be a very valuable first step for some individuals and families. Interventions can help by putting everyone on the same page and sorting through emotions and the consequences of substance abuse.

Denial is a way of coping with a traumatic event that makes someone feel vulnerable or threatens their sense of psychological well-being. However, when it comes to chronic drug abuse and addiction, denial can lead to serious problems, including a worsening of the addiction. If your loved one is in denial about his addiction—even though it’s apparent to everyone else that his alcohol or drug abuse is causing negative consequences in his and others’ lives—an intervention may be the answer.

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What Is an Intervention?

A substance abuse intervention is a carefully and strategically planned process that involves friends, family and loved ones of the person suffering from substance abuse. Interventions often include examples of the consequences of the substance abuse – how the destructive behavior has impacted the user and his or her loved ones, and how important it is for the loved ones that the person gets professional treatment.

Interventions should always be performed in an objective, caring and nonjudgmental way out of concern for the individual or family, not as a threat.

Are Interventions Effective?

Interventions can be effective when they are staged by professional facilitators.

A professional facilitator has completed the proper certification and he or she is knowledgeable about alcohol addiction, the recovery process, interventions and alcohol addiction facts.

These counselors understand how addiction affects clients and they also understand what potential clients want to know before they decide to get treatment. Facilitators can explain what the treatment process will be like and what the recovery process entails from that point onwards as well as speak first hand on what the experience may be like for them.

What’s the Goal Of An Intervention?

An intervention is a compassionate confrontation to force the substance abuser to face the reality of their addiction, utilizing a rational and open dialogue. Each person who participates presents the way the addiction has impacted their lives, and what the consequences will be if the person refuses to enter treatment.

Consequences can range from loss of financial support to termination of the relationship.

The consequence of no further support from the group, if the person refuses treatment, is a crucial component of an intervention.

Help Me Plan An Intervention

The Steps of An Intervention

Gather information:The group researches addiction treatment programs. Pre-arranged treatment is usually scheduled at this time, with the goal being to have the person leave the intervention and enter treatment with no delay.

Form the intervention team:Members of the group are chosen to participate in the intervention, agree on a date and meeting place and review a structured plan.

Decide on specific consequences: If the person refuses treatment, each person in the meeting decides what action they will take.

Prepare notes:Each person writes down what they will say, including specific incidents where the addiction has negatively impacted their lives. Notes about the destructive effects of addiction are detailed. This step is important, as an unguided conversation can quickly become heated and derail the efforts of the group.

Hold the intervention:Typically, the substance abuser enters the meeting not knowing it will be an actual intervention. If it was known beforehand, it would be easy to plan excuses and avoid the meeting. Loved ones take turns expressing their concerns and feelings. The subject is given information on the pre-arranged treatment option and asked to accept that option before the meeting ends. Each member specifies changes to be made if the individual doesn’t accept treatment.

Follow-up Meetings: Therapy sessions for the spouse and family members are crucial to help a person stay in treatment and avoid relapse. This includes family therapy to change patterns of enabling behavior, participating in counseling and education about what to do if a relapse occurs.

Intervention Isn’t Right for Everyone

In some cases, such as when the family is highly dysfunctional, or the addicted individual has a serious mental illness, an intervention may not have the intended result. It’s a good idea to talk with a behavioral health professional about your loved one’s situation before choosing to hold an intervention.

If a standard intervention is deemed inappropriate for your loved one, the professional can offer a number of alternative solutions, including other, gentler intervention models or a meeting with a healthcare professional.

Two Possible Outcomes

During an intervention, your loved one will either choose to enter treatment or refuse to do so.

Throughout the intervention process and beyond, regardless of the outcome, the most important thing is to hold on to your hope, which is the foundation of recovery.

Let your loved one know that you believe they can recover from an addiction, and you’re not going to give up. People can and do recover. They may not see it at first, but with a positive attitude and a wealth of knowledge on your side, you can help them get there sooner or later.

Models for Substance Abuse Intervention

There are several models that professionals may use when planning an intervention. Two common models are:

Johnson Model

The Johnson Model, named after Vernon Johnson, the “father” of intervention, is based on the premise that an individual suffering from addiction and substance abuse is in deep denial about their situation and will not seek help without being confronted by the crisis it has caused in their life.

A Johnson Model intervention is led by a professional, who guides the family through the confrontation so that the experience is one of concern and caring and not anger or malice.

Invitational Model (Systemic Family Intervention Model)

Substance abuse intervention doesn’t only focus on the addicted individual. The Invitational Model, developed by Ed Speare and Wayne Ratier focuses on the entire family, rather than singling out the individual.

Speare and Ratier theorized that if the system (the family unit) changes than each individual will change, including the addicted individual. This systems theory based substance abuse intervention approach is also non-confrontational and nonjudgmental. The intervention takes place over two days, and is an educational intervention whereby the family discusses the science of addiction, the effect on the family as well as behaviors such as enabling and co-dependency.

There is no wrong way to help a family member or loved one get the help they need. We believe that there are multiple approaches that can help an individual seek substance abuse treatment. A united family plan that makes it clear that the family does not and will not support substance abuse can be an important aspect of getting an individual into treatment.