Drug & Alcohol Intervention

What Is A (Drug & Alcohol) Intervention?

Though many have heard the term, not everyone is sure of what a “drug & alcohol intervention” really means. This page will give you all you need to know about what an intervention is and what to expect if you are participating in one.

An intervention is an event wherein concerned parties will intervene in the life of a loved one to get them help to change their destructive behavior or lifestyle. Not only does an intervention seek to help the individual, but also those close to the individual who may currently be enabling them, whether or not they realize it. Often, an intervention will involve presenting the individual with an ultimatum to convince them to seek treatment. Sometimes an intervention will involve a professional, but not always.

What happens in an intervention

During an intervention, a group of people get together to present a united front to a person who is struggling with substance abuse issues. The effort is to convince the individual to seek professional treatment for their issues, thus making a positive change in their life. Typically, the group of people staging an intervention will include family, friends, and loved ones of the individual. Sometimes even colleagues may be involved as well.

Prior to confronting the individual, the group will prepare what they intend to say and do, planning for any potential reaction – be it positive or negative – from the individual.

Members of the group will write letters or lists to share with the individual about how their drinking and/or drug abuse is having a negative effect on the individual as well as their loved ones. They will present the individual with the choice of going to rehab and the consequences that will occur if the individual refuses.

Groups will often plan an intervention in a manner that will catch their loved on off guard and in a vulnerable position in the hopes that this will allow for more honest and transparent communication.

How Does It Work?

The overall goal of an intervention is to get a person who is suffering from the disease of addiction to seek treatment. Research has shown that there is an increased likelihood of an individual agreeing to treatment when presented with an ultimatum from an intervention group. Interventions work because they establish boundaries for the individual and show them just how much their substance abuse and addictive behaviors are negatively affecting those in their life. Additionally, it is imperative to get an individual into rehab as soon as possible following an intervention, if not immediately afterward. Interventions are emotionally charged and often tense, so it is important to prepare for defensive behavior on the part of the addicted individual. Inviting a drug addiction specialist or professional interventionist can be a big help in mitigating such issues.

Drug Intervention Programs

Staging an intervention takes a lot of work and is a huge undertaking. A great resource to help you in planning is drug intervention programs, which will guide you through the process, assist you in risk management, and give you a rundown of the most important steps for staging one. The following steps are necessary for a successful drug intervention:

  • The group staging the intervention should be made of up those closest to the individual who is struggling with addiction. This can include family, friends, co-workers, and even spiritual advisers.
  • You can look for a therapist or professional interventionist from a local or national program who will be able to assist you.
  • The intervention will allow participants the chance to speak to the person who is addicted and tell them exactly how their drug abuse has harmed their life. The group will offer an ultimatum to the individual to convince them that they must seek treatment right away.

Utilizing drug intervention services can be especially helpful for those involved in planning and staging. Something to keep in mind is to look for a professional who has a certification from the Association of Interventionist Specialists (AIS). Before the intervention, plan for your group to meet and discuss what will be said. It will be helpful to have a professional there to guide you. During this time, you will also be able to work on writing your letters to the addicted individual.

For drug interventions, two different methods are commonly used. The first method is the Johnson Intervention, wherein the individual is confronted by a group of their closest friends and family and is faced with the ultimatum to either go to treatment or endure the consequences. Similarly, the ARISE method is done in a group but is less confrontational in its style. It is also notably more collaborative than the Johnson approach.

Alcohol Intervention

One of the most common reasons to hold an intervention is to confront a loved one about their issues with alcohol abuse. The disease of alcoholism can cause eventual death and is among the most difficult substances to quit. This is why an intervention is such an important step in helping your loved one get the treatment they need.

AA Intervention

The main goal of an intervention is to help a person who is struggling with the disease of addiction to help them get the treatment they need. Unlike other intervention approaches, the AA Intervention or 12-Step Call is a different method, designed specifically to address the issues of alcohol abuse. Instead of the individual being confronted by a group of their loved ones, they will be greeted by a group of members of Alcoholics Anonymous, who then share their stories. The AA members would present the individual with a guide to AA and sobriety and help them get a sponsor. Sometimes this approach is more effective as it separates the individual from their friends and family and presents a less emotionally charged method of explaining to pitfalls of the individual’s self-destructive behavior.

How To Do An Intervention

Though people may see they’re loved one battling a substance abuse disorder and want to intervene, they do not know how to. Sometimes a one-on-one confrontation will not work and, in that case, the next step is to do a group intervention.

How to Have a Successful Intervention

  • The very first step is coming up with a plan of action. A professional interventionist can help you with this step. During this time you will also work to figure out a team of people who are closest to the affected individual to communicate about each step in the planning process.
    the initial phases of planning how to have a successful intervention, the team can be created as well.
  • Speak with your team and share stories and details about your loved one’s struggle with addiction to make sure everyone is on the same page. Then, start planning on what arrangements to make should your loved one accept the offer of treatment.
  • An important factor in staging an intervention is setting boundaries and decided on what consequences should be put into place should your loved one refuse treatment. These boundaries and consequences should be explicitly detailed and firm.
  • Each member of the group should write down what they want to say to their loved one during the intervention.
  • When you have the actual meeting, it is important for each individual to share their thoughts and feelings with their loved one and stand by the consequences decided upon should their loved one refuse treatment.

Planning is essential because if the intervention does not go well, it can potentially worsen your loved one’s issues with substance abuse.

How to Write an Intervention Letter

The letter that you write to your loved one is an important part of staging an intervention. The task may seem overwhelming, but there is a method of writing these letters that should simplify the process somewhat. Above all, the tone of your letter should show caring and compassion to your loved one as well as a sense of concern for the very serious situation in which they currently are. It is also important to remember not to blame or shame your loved one. You want them to know that you care and would like to see them get the help they need to overcome their substance abuse issues. Remember to clearly state and be prepared to act upon your individual consequences for your loved one should they refuse to get treatment.

Additional Tips

Though there is no way to fully guarantee success, below we have shared some tips to help you have the most successful intervention possible.

  • The team you choose should be comprised of people who know the individual being confronted best. They should have significant relationships with their loved ones and be on good terms with them.
  • Hiring a professional interventionist will help considerably in the planning and execution process of your intervention. A professional will understand the physical issues of addiction as well as the emotional and mental issues, which will help you to be more successful at addressing these specific concerns with your loved one.
  • Planning is key. Attempting to stage a spontaneous intervention can be potentially disastrous. A well thought out intervention with group participation, treatment options decided upon beforehand, and a united front presented will be the most successful tools in getting your loved one the treatment they need.
  • Always remember to keep yourself from judging, blaming, or attacking the person who is being confronted. Approach the situation from a place of love and understanding in order to help your loved one to seek treatment.
  • Be prepared to stand by your plan and the consequences and ultimatum you have laid out for your loved one, should they decided not to seek treatment.

Family Intervention Specialist

The purpose of a Family Intervention is to try and help not only the individual affected by the disease of addiction but their entire family both mentally and physically. Instead of catching the individual off guard with a surprise confrontation, the person being confronted will be made aware of each step and detail of the intervention. Together, the family of the addicted individual along with the addicted individual work together to heal and learn.

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