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How Does Drug & Alcohol Intervention Work?

Interventions have been made popular through Hollywood movies and popular television series. We have all seen the stories whereby substance abusers arrive home and are confronted by their loved ones with individual letters discussing how their substance abuse has impacted their lives. In the movies, they are emotionally overwhelmed by what their loved ones have said and are shown to be off the drugs for the rest of their lives. In reality, however, this isn’t quite how drug and alcohol interventions work.

What Is an Intervention?

If done properly, an intervention is a very powerful tool that can help a substance abuser on the road to recovery. If done incorrectly, however, it could actually make the situation a whole lot worse. But what is an intervention?

“With a superficial glance, an intervention looks like a casual meeting that includes someone that is addicted to a substance and people trying to help that person. Upon closer inspection, an intervention is a formally planned meeting that takes days or weeks of preparation to progress from creation to finalization.”

Preparation is extensive and includes a great deal of research, speaking to professionals, working together with the loved ones of the substance abuser, having treatment ready and waiting, and committing to consequences of the subsequent behavior of the substance abuser.

Important Hints and Tips

Getting an intervention right is absolutely vital to its success. The idea that, once letters have been read out, the addict will suddenly have recovered is completely incorrect, which is why one of the most important things is to have access to treatment available immediately after the intervention. It is also important to get all the details right.

“Don’t schedule an intervention for a time that the addict is likely to be high or stressed. If the addict has to go to work, has recently gone through a breakup, or is otherwise distracted or overwhelmed, he or she will have trouble listening.”

You should also make sure not to shame or yell at them. You must be very specific in terms of how you have been affected by their behavior and make sure you are short and to the point in everything that you say. Perhaps the most important thing, and often the most difficult, is that you stick by what you say. If you impose consequences, you have to actually follow through with those, no matter how hard it would be.

Intervention Models

It is generally recommended to work together with intervention specialists, as they are trained in the different models of intervention.

“There are many different approaches to interventions, and it’s important to choose one that you feel would be most effective for your loved one. A professional interventionist can help you with this process.”

The most common models include the Johnson Model, the Systemic Model, the Invitational Model, and the Field Model. If you do not seek the services of an interventionist, then it is important that you study these models so that you work along the one that you believe is most appropriate for your exact situation.