How to Stage an Intervention for Substance Abuse

Man Standing During and Intervention

Tuesday, June 25, 2019 | By Cooper Samp

The nature of addiction can make people lose sight of reality. Often times their priorities are altered so much that they are unaware of their actions and how dangerous the situation is. Often times it takes an intervention for these individuals to truly shine a light on how much their behaviors are affecting their lives and, often times more shockingly, the lives around them. Interventions are a tool used to appropriately address these concerns in a safe and controlled environment. 

What is a Formal Intervention?

Most interventions involve some sort of planning in an attempt to control the situation and guide it in a positive and effective manner. We will go into detail what appropriate planning involves, but for the most part, it includes education, preparation, and some form of meeting. This meeting usually involves a few close loved ones but can be as small as a one-on-one meeting. 

The goal of these meetings is to convey to the person addicted to substances that people are worried about their current state of being. These types of meetings should never involve any sort of punishment, accusations, or forced communication. Instead, it should serve as an eye-opening experience for the person suffering from an addiction. The meeting should display how much love and willingness to support a recovery process. 

When is an Intervention Necessary

Not all individuals require a formal intervention or any intervention for that matter. Some recognize the problem with little or no input from loved ones or communities. Others, however, may be oblivious to the consequences and effects of their actions. Certain individuals who need the motivation to seek rehabilitation, therapy, or outside support can benefit from an intervention.

Types of Interventions

There is no one-size-fits-all method for interventions. There can be multiple reasons why an intervention may be needed including the level of denial, the relationship to the individual, as well as the size of their support network. The most common types of interventions include:

  • CRAFT (Community Reinforcement Approach and Family Training Model) – This approach values a more indirect approach as opposed to sitting down with someone in a direct confrontation. This method focused on encouraging strategies to help the person struggling with substance abuse to arrive at the conclusion of recovery themselves. This process usually takes longer to arrive at the recovery process but can eliminate the conflict and animosity that can happen in a Johnson Intervention Model. 
  • Johnson Intervention Model – This is the stereotypical model you think of when you hear the word “intervention.” This method relies on the surprise and confrontation approach. This approach is typically reserved for special circumstances. For people who fear their loved-one is in a dangerous situation and time is limited. For individuals who cannot be communicated with; this could also be an appropriate option. This method is typically reserved as a last resort because it can put the person addicted to substances on the defensive and move the person farther away from successful treatment.
  • Invitation Model – Using the same intervention style as the Johnson Intervention Model but instead of surprising the individual, the person is provided with an invitation to the meeting. This invitation will usually provide the details of what the meeting is about and what will take place, but he or she will be able to make a personal choice whether or not to attend the intervention. 

There’s no right answer. Recovery specialists can use a variation of the models shown above, but the end goal is the same: bringing awareness of the problem into the substance abuser’s life. The hopeful goal of an intervention is to also guide the person to a path of recovery; this can include accompanying them to a group meeting or admitting them to a treatment facility. 

How to Stage an Intervention for a Loved One

Before staging an intervention truly assess the situation. Is the individual in noticeable harm to himself/herself or others around them? Viewing dangerous actions like drunk driving, seeing their personality slip away, or recognizing poor performance in their daily activities might be cause for an intervention. Consider the tips for creating a successful intervention:

  • Do Your Research: Try to find out as much information as you can about your loved one’s history of use and the negative consequences they have faced. While love and support go a long way, often times individuals need real examples of how their actions have negatively affected their lives. 
  • Also, try to understand how addiction works. It can help provide answers to the reasons for their actions in an effort to build empathy towards them. This will help build a constructive conversation of understanding instead of blame. 
  • Formulate a Plan: Last but not least, explore possible plans and solutions to make the steps towards recovery an easier choice. Too often families want their loved one to heal and become sober but often lack the solution. These interventions can be smoother when everything has already been taken care of; finding the right center, reserving a spot, and facilitating the costs involved. Keep in mind that more often than not, family and friends will most likely have to front the cost of treatment for the individual. It can be hard enough for an intervention to end with the person addicted to accept help – make it easy for them to make that decision. 
  • Be Prepared to Commit to Consequences: Consequences can serve as a powerful motivator. 
  • In the event that your loved one does not agree to the terms of the intervention, providing consequences – like withdrawing enabling behaviors – can serve as an eye-opening experience. 
  • Keep in Touch: However the situation ends, someone should continue to follow up with the individual after  the intervention to ensure they remain in treatment (if they go to treatment) or remain a point of contact in the event they change their mind and wish to go to treatment (if they happened to decide against it). Either way, staying in contact will tell the person struggling with substance abuse that they are loved and supported. When the day does come that they are ready to get help, they will need someone. 

Addiction is rarely an easy fix. People who suffer from substance abuse need support, guidance, and tough love to recover fully and permanently. Consider asking for professional help during this time to ensure the best possible outcome for your loved one. Reach out to your local addiction professionals to help you along this process. They will be able to provide you with the necessary tools and people to guide you through these times. By reading this article you are making the right first step – researching and educating yourself!

If you have any questions about interventions or treatment options, call Coalition Recovery today. We have addiction specialists waiting to guide you through these times. Call today to learn more about professional interventionists and our successful 90-day program

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