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What Is an Intervention?

An intervention is a methodical process commonly initiated and carried out by family and friends with the guidance of a medical doctor, a drug or alcohol specialist, or an intervention professional known as an interventionist. This process allows the group to confront a loved one with substance use disorder about the negative consequences of the drinking or drug abuse and to ultimately persuade the person to receive treatment.

Unlike the intervention scenarios commonly depicted in movies and television shows, the process is more than just an emotional confrontation that ends with the person with substance use disorder agreeing to seek professional help. A true addiction intervention requires careful planning, structure, and clearly defined goals. This process can have the following components”

Instilling Awareness and Understanding

This part of the process aims to open the eyes of the person on the destructive effects of the addictive behavior not only on themselves but also on their family, friends, and even their community.

Motivating the Person with Substance Use Disorder to Change 

The intervention is directed to persuade a loved one with drug or alcohol addiction to change—change their  awareness, attitude, and reluctance to initiate enduring changes in their behavior and lifestyle. Keep in mind that the key is to motivate, not to intimidate, manipulate, or humiliate.

Creating a Plan of Action 

The process offers the person with addictive behavior a detailed recovery action plan with well-defined goals, steps, and guidelines.

What Are the Different Models of Drug and Alcohol Interventions? 

Every addiction story is unique. As such, there is no single intervention model that would work for everyone. An interventionist or a medical professional will use one or a combination of different intervention models depending on the person’s addiction experience, family conditions, and recovery goals. Below are the more popular intervention approaches used in drug and alcohol addictions.

The Johnson Model

This model was developed by Dr. Vernon Johnson in the 1970s to get addicted individuals into a treatment program and encourage them to complete it. The Johnson Model taps the capacity of family and loved ones in persuading the person to change. With the assistance of an experienced interventionist, the family members will convince their loved one with substance use disorder to change their life in a caring and non-judgmental manner.

The Johnson model is anchored on care. Family members and friends are directed to consistently offer love and encouragement throughout the process while remaining strong in their decision to stop enabling the addictive behavior of their loved ones.

Invitation Model

Also known as invitational intervention, ARISE intervention, or systemic family intervention, the invitation model allows the family to play an active role in the recovery journey of the loved one struggling with substance use disorder. The intervention process focuses not only on the individual, but also on the entire family.

This model recognizes the crucial role that the family plays in motivating the addicted loved one to enter treatment. One study on the ARISE intervention revealed a success rate of 83 percent in helping families and other concerned people to get resistant individuals  into addiction treatment.

Field Model 

The field model approach uses a confrontational method similar to the Johnson model. It is centered on convincing the person that their addictive behavior is deleterious and that treatment is needed immediately. The Field Model requires a highly skilled interventionist with experience in developing and carrying out on-the-spot crisis management strategies to address emotional outbursts, violence, or other issues that may arise during the intervention process. 

What Are the Telltale Signs That It Is Time for an Intervention? 

It is not easy to convince a loved one suffering from substance use disorder to seek treatment. Aside from the fact that the person will most likely deny that they have a problem, it is often difficult for family members and friends to initiate the conversation.

When faced with this challenge, staging an intervention is the ideal approach. Nonetheless, if you are unsure whether or not it is time to stage an intervention, here are some signs that could indicate that your loved one needs your help immediately.:

  • Poor personal and oral hygiene
  • Forgetfulness or inability to focus
  • Secretive behavior
  • Change in sleep pattern
  • Lack of motivation
  • Aggression
  • Work-related problems
  • Financial difficulties
  • Health issues

What Are the Essential Steps in the Intervention Process?

While the process of intervention varies depending on several factors, the majority of interventions include the following basic steps:

Finding a Reputable Intervention Specialist

The first step that you should take once you decide to stage an intervention is to find a reputable interventionist or addiction professional who will guide you in every stage of the process.  While some intervention meetings are conducted without the help of an intervention specialist, it is better to have an experienced professional by your side, particularly if the person has a history of violence or mental disorder, or  has suicidal inclinations.

Keep in mind that a trained intervention professional can determine the ideal approach that best suits your loved one’s unique circumstances. You can also rely on them to advise you on what type of treatment program and follow-up plan would be most effective.

Information Gathering

Given that the end goal of the intervention is to get the addicted loved one into a treatment program, you must take the time to learn about the various treatment options available. You can also meet and make initial arrangements with the addiction counselor so that you will be ready to take action once your loved one agrees to seek help.

Forming the Intervention Team

With the help of the enlisted intervention professional, the next step would be to organize the intervention team who will participate in the process of actual intervention. The members will work with the interventionist to create a structured plan, learn more about addiction and recovery, and rehearse their message.

Determining Specific Consequences

If your loved one still refuses to seek treatment, every member of the intervention team should decide on specific actions they will take to send a strong message that the addictive behavior will not be tolerated. For instance, you can ask them to move out or withhold their rights to visit their children unless they agree to enter a rehab facility. Note that these actions are not punishments, but a way for the addicted person to realize that their actions have consequences.

Preparing What to Say

Every member of the intervention team should take note of specific instances when the addictive behavior caused problems, such as financial issues or emotional distress. These incidents should be discussed with care and with the expectation that change is possible. When you cite specific happenings, it will be difficult for your loved one to deny the problem.

Staging the Intervention Meeting

Once all the preparatory work is done, the intervention is carried out in a familiar and non-threatening place that will help put the addicted person at ease. During the meeting, the members of the intervention team will verbalize their concerns and feelings about the loved one’s addictive behavior, present the treatment options, and communicate what they will do in case the person refuses to seek help.

How Can You Conduct a Successful Intervention? 

While not all interventions end successfully, there are several things you can do to carry out a productive intervention meeting with the best chance of helping your loved one suffering from substance use disorder. Here are a few tips toward this end:

Employ the “5 Ps of Success”

Holding the intervention process at the spur of the moment can lead to a disastrous ending.  Make sure that the members of the intervention team learn about the “5 Ps of success” before attempting to carry out an intervention. These 5 Ps stand for Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance. Meet several times before the intervention schedule so that you can rehearse and iron out potential issues beforehand. 

Consider the Timing 

Schedule the intervention on the day and time when your loved one is most likely sober. Staging an intervention after a serious drug or alcohol-related incident may also be a good idea since it is easier to discuss the harmful consequences of the person’s addictive behavior. 

Be Cautious of Your Language and Demeanor 

While openness and honesty are encouraged during an intervention, you should express your thoughts with love, respect, and care. Remember that your main goal is to help your addicted loved one, not place blame or release your anger and frustration. 

Stay on Track 

Your addicted loved one will most likely react angrily. Do not let their emotional outburst disrupt your plan. Remain calm and rational. 

Ask for a Definitive Answer 

Your loved one may ask for some time to think about your treatment proposal. Do not give in. Insist that they answer immediately. Make sure that you are prepared to go to the next course of action once they agree to receive treatment. 

How Can You Find a Suitable Treatment Program to Offer During an Intervention? 

As mentioned above, you must find a suitable treatment program that you can present to your loved one during the intervention so that their recovery journey can begin immediately. Apart from asking the intervention specialist for recommendations, you may also do your own search, just make sure to keep the following pointers in mind:

Be Wary of Fly-By-Night Treatment Facilities 

While it is easy to find addiction rehab facilities online, not all of them can be trusted. In fact, The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the Justice Department filed over 190 cases against operators of substance abuse treatment facilities, physicians, and telemedicine companies for fraudulent activities. 

Choose Evidence-Based Treatment Practices 

As you scrutinize the licenses, accreditations, and other credentials of the treatment facility, do not forget to ask about their treatment approaches. Avoid uncommon methods and practices that are unsafe and unproved. Ultimately, evidence-based treatment strategies are ideal since their effectiveness is supported by scientific studies. 

Consider Your Insurance Plan 

Addiction treatment can be costly, so you may want to get in touch with your loved one’s insurance provider to check whether his or her insurance plan will cover addiction treatment. 

Looking for the right treatment provider can be challenging. Instead of blindly searching the internet, you should get in touch with Better Addiction Care (BAC). We are a third-party information service that can help you connect with reputable addiction treatment facilities. BAC has a comprehensive directory of leading drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers in the country and offers free advisory services that can help you find the right recovery program for your loved one.

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