The Basic Intervention Options

An intervention is typically seen as the first step in treating someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol. It is usually a pre-planned attempt by family members, friends and/or employer or co-workers of an individual to get that person to seek professional help from a substance abuse therapist, counselor, or rehab program. Interventions can be split into two main categories. The first is when an addict willingly agrees to sit down while surrounded by their loved ones in order to talk about their use of drugs and/or alcohol.

When an individual realizes that they have a problem, this is the best step to get them to then hopefully move on to getting some professional help. In more difficult cases though, a surprise intervention may be required. In this scenario, the addict is forced to confront their behavior and how it affects those around them. While this can be a much more aggressive tactic, it may be necessary for any progress to be made when it comes to placing an individual on the road to recovery.

Approaching an Intervention

While the basis of an intervention may seem fairly simple, there are actually different approaches which can be taken depending on the personality of the addict, the setting of the substance abuse, and who is involved in the intervention itself. After contacting a qualified intervention specialist, they will then devise a strategy which has the best chance of success. Some of the more popular intervention types which can be chosen are listed below:

* Workplace
* Crisis
* Family
* Youth
* Johnson’s Approach

Regardless of method chosen, one should always remember that an intervention is never guaranteed to succeed. This depends on the addict themselves, though a qualified professional and the right tactics will certainly improve the odds in favor of recovery.

Workplace Interventions

Essentially arranged by a co-worker or employer, these types of interventions occur within the office, factory or store. In these commercial environments, drug and alcohol use can be highly prevalent, and an estimated 12.9 million drug users were employed in 2005 within the USA alone. This can have devastating consequences for fellow employees and also the success of the business itself. In order to prevent any serious damage, it will be necessary for a workplace to have its own inbuilt intervention procedures.

These can work in two different ways. First, managers can implement a policy to give staff an overview of what to look for in their co-workers when it comes to spotting drug and alcohol use. Since employees generally spend lengthy amounts of time with each other, they are in a unique situation to spot substance abuse quite easily. These workplace policies should also detail exactly how to go about setting up an intervention so that there is a better chance of success. While other employees, managers and directors can be involved, it is best to have it led by a qualified specialist in the field as they will know exactly how to move forward and assist the individual in the best possible way.

Crisis Interventions

Often, drug or alcohol use can become so risky that it creates serious problems for both the user and those around them. In these circumstances, crisis intervention is necessary to make that individual realize the extent of their actions and the damage that they are doing to those who know them. Here, the intervention must be performed as soon as possible before the addict harms themselves or any third parties, such as friends or family members. These issues can be medical, legal or personal, and most of the time the addict will not even be aware of them. For this reason, the surprise intervention can be a better method of bringing these problems to the surface and convincing an individual that they need help abstaining from further substance abuse.

Crisis interventions have several purposes. First, they aim to help a person realize that behavior such as drug and alcohol dependency stems from internal conflicts rather than external sources. Most substance abusers will lay the blame on other factors, such as relationships, work and stress, rather than admitting that they can stop themselves if they tried hard enough. In this way, a crisis intervention is the first step in helping someone to recover from addiction, and preventing any medical, legal, financial or personal damage in the future. It is the lead-up to convincing someone to then go for further treatment when it comes to overcoming their addiction to drugs and/or alcohol.

Family Interventions

Sometimes, the best way to reach out to a drug or alcohol addict is in a familiar setting surrounded by loved ones. The family intervention aims to convince an individual that they need treatment in the softest possible manner while still placing them in a situation where they are forced to have a look at their past actions and behavior. In this scenario, family members and friends should meet together and discuss how they can best reach out to a loved one they know who is abusing drugs and/or alcohol. Emotions, such as anger or disappointment, should be eliminated during the actual intervention session and this prior meeting is a good place to get such issues out of the way. Any negativity seen during the intervention itself could push the addict away and result in further abuse later on.

Family interventions should be led by a professional who has experience in the field and can guide everyone in what to say and how to act on the big day. Anyone who knows and is close to the individual abusing drugs or alcohol should be there as well, so as to provide as much evidence as possible as to the damage being caused. Even children should be invited along as they can often provide the most compelling evidence of all. All attendants should speak and let the addict know exactly how their lives have been affected by their behavior and actions in the past. This evidence, coupled with true love and concern, should provide an addict with the motivation needed to then attend further treatment.

Youth Interventions

While very similar to family interventions, youth interventions are designed specifically for the needs of young people, as treating teenagers can be a far more delicate matter than treating adults. In this situation, it is essential to contact a professional who has experience in dealing with substance abuse in youth as they will know how best to proceed without risk of destroying the bonds between a teenager and their friends and family. While the final aim of encouraging an individual to enter treatment is the same, the methods used are not due to the differences in age, behavior and attitude.

One tricky aspect to youth interventions is that habits which may be linked to drug abuse in adults, such as moodiness, lying, and solitude, can be fairly normal for a teenager. In this case, it is essential that parents get real proof of their child’s addiction before organizing an intervention, as a wrong guess can leave a teen with feelings of anger and betrayal which will then alienate them from their parents. For this reason, it is best to move carefully, under the guidance of a professional youth substance abuse expert if possible.

Johnson’s Approach

The Johnson Model of Intervention uses a more forceful approach in persuading an addict of their past actions and then convincing them to commence a treatment program. The belief here is that an addict cannot confront the reality of their actions until they have hit rock bottom. Their mental defenses and sense of denial are so strong that they are required to reach a crisis situation before they can actually look at their lives and become persuaded to change. The intervention is thus used as a catalyst for this, presenting the individual dependant on drugs or alcohol with a series of facts about their lives and then compelling them to admit that they have caused numerous problems in the past and present. This confrontation should never be malicious though and its forceful nature can be smoothed over by displaying a great amount of love and care as well. Keeping this balance can be difficult and is best done with the aid of a qualified professional to avoid any negative reactions during the intervention process.