Addiction Treatment Advice

What is an Intervention?

An Overview of How Interventions Work

What is an Intervention?

An intervention is a structured meeting designed to help a person with a substance use disorder (SUD) see that their substance use puts them at risk and affects others. A drug or alcohol intervention gives the individual a safe environment to have a conversation and to agree to seek professional addiction treatment.

The family, close friends of the person with a SUD, and a skilled interventionist make up the intervention team. The interventionist will lead and guide the intervention process and help prevent or diffuse any arguments or confrontations.

After the actual intervention, the individual ultimately must decide on whether to accept or seek treatment. The addiction professional present at the meeting can take over at that point and manage the next steps.

Types of Interventions

The purpose of any intervention is to show your love and support for your loved one by helping them find the best path to recovery. There are different types of addiction interventions, including the Johnson Intervention and Love First Model, a structured, loving model with the support of a professional. An informal intervention, a private discussion between you and your loved one, may be appropriate for someone in the early stages of addiction.

Your professional interventionist can help determine the type of intervention that is the best approach for your situation.

How Do You Start an Intervention?

A successful intervention must be carefully planned. Once an intervention is proposed, one person takes the lead and contacts a qualified intervention specialist. Intervention planning includes the following steps:

Assess. Meet with a professional interventionist to discuss your concerns about your loved one’s drug or alcohol use. The substance abuse specialist will determine if a professional intervention is appropriate, and if so, which type and how quickly it should happen.

Prepare. Talk to those in the addicted person’s inner circle, including trusted co-workers, friends, and family members, to gather specific examples of destructive behavior to give tangible examples that will help the individual understand how their substance use or addiction has impacted loved ones as well as themselves. Determine the time of the day they are least likely to be under the influence to plan the time of the intervention. The plan should include:

  • A strategy to get the person to the actual meeting

  • The date for the intervention

  • The team members, roles, and who says what and when

Don’t rush it— preparation could take several weeks.

Identify Treatment Options. Identify one or more effective treatment programs for your loved one. If an inpatient treatment center is needed, make plans for admission. Create a fallback plan in case your loved one refuses treatment.

Practice. Interventions are stressful, nerve-wracking, and rarely go smoothly. The best way to help alleviate your fear is to plan for different scenarios with a rehearsal intervention meeting. What you learn during rehearsal will set the stage for the real intervention. Establish ground rules, identify speakers and what they will say, and determine counterarguments to objections from your loved one. Work with your interventionist to ensure members of the support group are comfortable with the process.

Staging the Intervention: What is the Process of an Intervention?

At the addiction intervention meeting, you want to convince the person with a substance use disorder that to break free from their addiction and begin the road to recovery, they need to accept help. The intervention meeting can be successful with a firm but caring approach.

The interventionist will mediate and guide the meeting as planned at the rehearsal. They can start the session, read prepared letters or statements, redirect when the conversation veers off track, and take the brunt of anger from the person with the SUD. The professional can also explain the treatment options and help guide the person to acceptance. If your loved one agrees to the treatment plan, they may need to be transported to a treatment facility immediately.

If your loved one refuses treatment, don’t consider the intervention a failure. Regardless of the outcome, the person with a SUD will realize numerous benefits, including:

  • Recognizing the impact of their addiction on their family and friends

  • Seeing that they are surrounded by loved ones

  • Understanding the treatment options available to them

  • Knowing they have a safety net and can ask for help at any time

  • Motivating them to seek an addiction recovery program

Interventions work when properly planned. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, Caron can help. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment programs.

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