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Alcohol and Drug Interventions

Alcohol and Drug Interventions

Sometime people who have addiction problems are forced into treatment in order to avoid serious consequences like losing their children or going to jail. Other times, they may need convincing from loved ones to enter treatment. An intervention is a formal technique that the friends and family members of an addicted person can use to get their loved one help. During an intervention, a group of people speak to someone addicted to drugs or alcohol about their behaviors and how they have affected everyone. Then, the group tries to convince the addicted person to enter rehab.

This guide provides an overview of how interventions work. Readers will find information on different types of interventions and how they are conducted, what happens after these meetings, and the best practices for staging one.

Expert

Dr. Jeffrey Gardere
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Sometime people who have addiction problems are forced into treatment in order to avoid serious consequences like losing their children or going to jail. Other times, they may need convincing from loved ones to enter treatment. An intervention is a formal technique that the friends and family members of an addicted person can use to get their loved one help. During an intervention, a group of people speak to someone addicted to drugs or alcohol about their behaviors and how they have affected everyone. Then, the group tries to convince the addicted person to enter rehab.

This guide provides an overview of how interventions work. Readers will find information on different types of interventions and how they are conducted, what happens after these meetings, and the best practices for staging one.

Fast Facts: Substance Abuse Interventions

Working with a professional intervention specialist can increase the success of the meeting. In fact, 90 percent of interventions that involve a professional result in the person with an addiction problem going into treatment. (Source: National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence)

In some cases, interventions are considered forcible. Forcible interventions occur when people with addiction problems are mandated to go into treatment by a court order or doctor’s request. There is no difference in the relapse rates between those who are coerced into treatment and those who go voluntarily. (Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse)

The Johnson intervention method, where someone’s friends and family members confront them about their addiction problems, is the most effective voluntary intervention method. (Source: National Institutes of Health)

In many cases, someone who initially refused treatment after an intervention will go to rehab later as a result of the process.(Source: National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence)

Seventy-five percent of people who go to treatment through forcible intervention remain arrest free two years after completing rehab. (Source: National Association of Drug Court Professionals)

What Is An Addiction Intervention?

People who have addiction issues can wreak havoc on those who are close to them. Interventions are designed to help the loved ones of an addicted person confront them about their behavior in a supportive and constructive manner, and urge them to enter treatment. The following details how interventions work.

The Benefits of Drug Interventions

Staging an intervention to get a loved one into rehab can be a challenging undertaking, but there are many benefits to going through this process. The following are some of these benefits.

  • Friends and family members can tell an addicted person how their behavior has affected them, which may be an eye opening experience for someone consumed by drug or alcohol abuse.
  • An intervention can provide motivation to get help that someone addicted to drugs and alcohol may not otherwise have.
  • When people stage an intervention with a professional present, that neutral party keeps the meeting from getting too heated as they discuss very personal and emotional issues.
  • If someone with addiction issues has an untreated co-occurring disorder like depression, an intervention can help motivate them to get help for it along with the addiction.
  • An intervention allows people to confront their loved one in a safe, compassionate manner.

Drug Intervention Programs & Approaches

Substance abuse interventions are all designed to facilitate treatment for someone who has an addiction problem. However, substance abuse interventionists use different methodologies to achieve this ultimate goal. Some intervention models are direct, meaning people confront someone with addiction issues about their behavior and let them know how their addiction has impacted everyone involved. Other types of interventions are indirect, which involves an entire family receiving counseling so the home environment is less conducive to addictive behaviors. The following are some of the different types of interventions that can be used depending on the specific situation.

The ARISE method is a hybrid intervention model that uses direct and indirect strategies. In this intervention, the entire family receives counseling in order to create a healthier home environment. If the person who is abusing substances agrees to get treatment in rehab, the family continues therapy to ensure everyone in the household contributes to maintaining a healthy home that helps their loved one stay clean and sober.

As the name indicates, this type of addiction intervention is focused around people directly confronting someone with addiction problems. During this type of intervention, people explain how addictive behaviors have affected everyone’s lives and firmly lay out that they expect the addicted person to enter rehab. This type of intervention is not used as much today as it was in the past, as it harshly puts blame on the addicted person and may involve some manipulation to convince them to get treatment.

This type of intervention is direct, but because of the circumstances may become involuntary. Crisis interventions are generally done for people who are approaching disaster because they’re at risk of losing custody of their children, facing jail time for drug possession, having serious financial problems, or suffering from an illness because of their addiction. In a crisis intervention, the family of an addicted person works with an interventionist to directly request that they get help. If the situation is dire enough, the addiction specialist may be able to get the person involuntarily placed in treatment if they refuse to go on their own.

In this model, an interventionist can use a variety of methodologies when confronting someone based on what happens during the meeting. This is done in cases where a professional may need to change course because of the unpredictable nature of the situation, such as when there is the potential for a violent reaction from the addicted person.

This type of intervention is planned ahead of time and the person who is addicted to drugs or alcohol is aware that the meeting is going to occur. As a result, that person can choose not to attend the intervention and in that case, the participants discuss what they can do to help their loved one. If the addicted person does choose to attend, they are likely to be less defensive because they’re aware that substance abuse is going to be discussed.

In this type of intervention, the friends and family members of an addicted person confront them directly without telling them in advance the meeting will be happening. Although this is similar to the confrontation model, in a Johnson intervention, blame is avoided and the focus is more on the benefits of receiving treatment. Although participants are encouraged to be honest about how the addiction has affected them, they do not try to shame someone into getting treatment. However, participants do explain in a respectful and supportive way that there will be consequences if the addicted person does not enter rehab.

The love first intervention model is designed to appeal to an addicted person by showing them unconditional love and support. In this type of intervention, family members may address any objections that someone may have to seeking treatment in a loving way. For example, if the addicted person is concerned about childcare, family members explain how they will take care of the children while they’re in rehab. During this type of intervention, everyone is to remain calm and sympathetic—even if the addicted person gets angry—to ensure that the meeting is free of conflict.

In this type of intervention, a therapist or interventionist works to understand the addicted person’s point of view by asking them a series of questions. By building trust and displaying empathy, the mental health professional is able to encourage the addicted person to change their behavior and make the changes necessary to become sober and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

The systemic family model of intervention views an addiction as something that affects everyone in a household, so the focus is on the family unit, not just the addicted person. This type of intervention is planned with the addicted person’s knowledge and is designed to provide encouragement rather than blame. Although participants directly address the addiction, they also acknowledge the role they have each played in the family dynamic.

The tough love intervention method is used as a last resort, as it may result in people cutting ties with their loved one. In this type of intervention, an ultimatum is issued and friends and family members outline what they will do if the addicted person does not enter treatment. Interventionists can facilitate this process by providing support to the addicted person, as they may feel like their loved ones are ganging up on them during the meeting.

Substance Abuse Intervention Do’s and Don’ts

DO’S
DON’TS

Do consult with a drug intervention specialist to create a plan.

Do form a team for the intervention by choosing those who the addicted person cares about and trusts.

Do make notes on what to say during the intervention.

Do avoid yelling at the addicted person during the meeting.

Do present consequences for not getting treatment and be prepared to follow through on them.

Don’t stage an intervention without understanding the addiction and possible treatments.

Don’t wait for someone to hit rock bottom before staging an intervention.

Don’t focus just on the problem without presenting solutions.

Don’t use the meeting to rehash every transgression the addicted person has committed.

Don’t give up if an intervention doesn’t initially result in the addicted person entering a rehab facility.

Drug Interventions for Dual Diagnosis Patients

When someone is suffering from a mental illness on top of their addiction, an intervention can become especially volatile. It’s best to work with an addiction professional who has experience dealing with dual diagnosis patients in order to increase the likelihood of the intervention being successful.

What Happens After A Substance Abuse Intervention?

After an intervention, the person who is addicted to drugs or alcohol will either accept that they have a problem and agree to get help, or reject the idea that they need treatment. When someone agrees to go into treatment, an intervention specialist can help them check into a rehab program. At that point, the relatives who participated in the intervention can further help their loved one with treatment by participating in family therapy with them.

If someone refuses to get help after an intervention, it’s important for friends and family members to follow through on the consequences they laid out during the process. That may include cutting the person off financially, making them move out of the home, or ending a friendship or romantic relationship with them. It’s important for people to follow through with these things in order to avoid enabling their loved one’s addiction.

However, enforcing these consequences doesn’t mean people should give up on someone struggling with addiction issues. In many cases, when an addicted person realizes that their loved ones will not enable their behavior, they will seek out help later. At that time, their family can help them enter treatment.

FAQs about Alcohol & Drug Interventions

Many people stage interventions for their loved one after that person has suffered some serious negative consequences—such as getting arrested, losing a job, suffering financial ruin, or going through a divorce—as a result of their addiction. However, people don’t have to wait until the addicted person hits rock bottom to stage an intervention. An intervention can be staged whenever someone exhibits the signs of addiction—such as being aggressive, keeping secrets, lying about drug or alcohol use, or suddenly borrowing money and having financial problems.

People who are loved and respected by the addicted person should participate. That can include close friends, family members, clergy members, employers, or physicians.

An intervention can be conducted without one, however, it can be more successful with the help of an interventionist. These professionals can be especially helpful if the addicted person has a history of violence, mental illness, and suicide attempts.

In order to prepare for an intervention, people can do research on the substance their loved one is addicted to, think about responses to any objections that may come up, and have a rehearsal meeting.

Friends and family members should stick to any consequences that were mentioned during the intervention if the person does not agree to get treatment. They may arrange for another intervention at a later date.

Q&A with a Substance Abuse Interventionist

Dr. Jeffrey Gardere, Ph.D., ABPP, is a Board Certified Clinical Psychologist. He is also Course Director, Behavioral Medicine and Assistant Professor at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine.

  • Is it always a good idea to stage an intervention for a loved one with addiction problems? Are there cases when it’s a bad idea?

    I honestly cannot think of a situation where it’s a bad idea to do a crisis intervention. And yet, crisis intervention is usually confrontational and difficult, but it is about saving a life that is out of control and in danger. The challenge is staging a crisis intervention that will not push that individual towards further drug abuse and/or suicidal behaviors. Therefore, the crisis intervention must be well-thought-out, with contingencies and aftercare steps built into it.

  • If someone is considering having an intervention for an addicted person, where should they start?

    The crisis intervention should be well-thought-out and with the proper mix of family and/or friends and if possible, a therapeutic professional included. As stated above, contingencies should be put into the plan in case the person threatens to harm themselves. That would mean having people standing by to take the person to a hospital, or not allowing him or her to flee and run into a potentially dangerous situation, such as more drug use or even running into traffic.

    The family and/or friends should be well-meaning and supportive. And it is essential that the intervention team include a person or people that the addict really does trust and love.

  • What are common mistakes that people make during an intervention?

    They come on like gangbusters, in either desperate and/or angry mode. They may also treat the addict as if he or she is brainless or a child. They may also take an approach of “our way or the highway,” not providing treatment options or choices. This may leave the addict feeling he or she is trapped with their backs against the wall, and the result may be that the addict panics and refuses any treatment. The intervention certainly must have a careful mix of urgency, pressure, and loving support.

  • What effect can an intervention have on the relationship between the addicted person and those who participate in it?

    In many cases, the addict will be extremely angry with the interventionists, and will verbalize rage and displeasure. Even after they go into treatment, they will be extremely angry and feel betrayed by the interventionists. But as time goes by and they go from the insanity of drug use to being sober, they eventually are very grateful to their family and friends for caring enough to stage the intervention.

  • What can people do if they stage an intervention but their loved one refuses to go to treatment? Should they try again?

    Oftentimes people think it’s one big intervention that turns the trick. The reality is, it takes several interventions to finally get that person into treatment and to be serious about being sober.

Sources:

https://www.addictioncenter.com/treatment/stage-intervention/

http://www.hazeldenbettyford.org/addiction/intervention/how-to-do-an-intervention

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Sources:

https://www.addictioncenter.com/treatment/stage-intervention/

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https://www.ncadd.org/family-friends/there-is-help/intervention-tips-and-guidelines

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http://www.dualdiagnosis.org/interventions/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mental-illness/in-depth/intervention/art-20047451

https://www.ridgefieldrecovery.com/intervention-guide/7-methods/

https://www.thehillscenter.com/addiction-treatment-programs/interventions/

http://www.michaelshouse.com/intervention/drug-intervention-no-no/

https://family-intervention.com/resources/success-rates/

https://www.bhpalmbeach.com/recovery-articles/success-rates-addiction-interventions-are-higher-professional-interventionists

https://www.associationofinterventionspecialists.org/intervention-a-starting-point-for-change/

https://www.associationofinterventionspecialists.org/learn-about-intervention/

https://www.associationofinterventionspecialists.org/intervention-what-is-the-success-rate/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8727057

https://www.bhpalmbeach.com/recovery-articles/success-rates-addiction-interventions-are-higher-professional-interventionists

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