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The Ultimate Guide To Substance Abuse Intervention Techniques

In most cases, addicts are completely oblivious of just how bothersome and dangerous their substance use disorders have become. On the other hand, some may recognize the situation they find themselves but still continue believing that they can manage the situation on their own. Still others will intentionally avoid contact with anyone who tries to encourage them towards the road to sobriety and recovery. In all these cases, the addicts have one thing in common: they need help. This is where substance abuse intervention techniques come in.

Oftentimes, however, the friends and family members of addicts feel hopeless and start believing that there is no chance that their loved ones can be helped. If you find yourself in such a situation, it is essential that you remember that even addicts who are unwilling to get help are not lost cases and you should not treat them as such.

Through the guidance and assistance of skilled professional interventionists, you should be able to get anyone who abuses alcohol, drugs, and other addictive substances to seek help before it is too late and they succumb to the dangers and fatal effects of addiction.

In fact, research shows that the rates of successful recovery are as high as 80% for employees who are compelled to seek treatment and check into a rehabilitation facility to keep their jobs. This shows that willingness and readiness isn't always a mandatory component where substance abuse intervention is concerned.

Still, it might be difficult for you to deal with drug and alcohol addiction whether you are an addict or you have a loved one struggling with substance use disorders and co-occurring disorders.

While you might be tempted to ascribe standardized treatment protocols, however, this is not the right path to take. In fact, most drug and alcohol treatment programs - particularly with regards to substance abuse intervention techniques - require that you take an individualized and personalized approach to properly address the unique needs of the addict.

Effective Addiction Treatment

Before jumping right into the subject of the most popular substance abuse intervention techniques, it might be useful for you to first understand addiction treatment and what it entails.

To this end, NIDA (the National Institute on Drug Abuse) reports that there is no universal treatment that can be effectively applied to every case of addiction. Still, there are a number of factors that make up most of the parts of a reliable and cohesive treatment regimen.

These factors include, but are not limited to:

However, before rehabilitation can start, the addict has to be brought into the program. This can either happen involuntarily or voluntarily - but mostly occurs after the use of substance abuse intervention techniques.

In the guide below, you will learn more about interventions, what they involve, the different models available, and how it works. Read on to find out more:

Understanding Substance Abuse Interventions

A successful substance abuse intervention is more than a confrontation. In fact, it should act as an opportunity where the family, friends, colleagues, and other loved ones of the addict get to talk about the effects of the addiction and substance use disorders (as well as any co-occurring disorders) and what they have caused in the entailing relationships. By so doing, the participants show the addict that they need help - particularly with regards to taking the first steps towards rehabilitation, treatment, recovery, and sobriety.

A drug intervention, to this end, can be defined as a structured and solutions-oriented process that is undertaken to persuade an individual who has a problem with alcohol or drug abuse and convince them to seek assistance in overcoming their issues and addiction.

This means that friends, family, and others involved and invested in the individual's life and work use this opportunity to show the extent to which the effects and symptoms of the alcoholism or substance abuse and any related behaviors have negatively impacted the relationship dynamics and the health of the addict.

As such, successful interventions serve as opportunities to help steer addicts towards rehabilitation and recovery. In most cases, this requires that you invite a professional interventionist to serve as an educator and guide before, during, and even after the intervention.

The Importance Of Interventions

But exactly how necessary are interventions? Why do we need them? Are they even helpful? These are all questions that you might find yourself asking as you continue considering hosting or participating in one.

In most cases, you will find that some individuals struggling with addiction and substance abuse may be able to and might even recognize the extent to which their lives are taking a turn for the worse because of their substance abuse. As such, they may choose to seek help even without needing to go through an intervention.

However, many are unable or reluctant to realize that alcohol and drugs are responsible for most of the problems in their work, health, and relationships. As such, they tend to prefer to ignore the safety and health issues that are related to high like behaviors such as driving or operating heavy machinery or fragile objects while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

It is also quite common for most addicts to deny that most of the difficulties they are facing stem from their substance use disorders, addiction, and co-occurring disorders (if any). Instead, they may choose to blame other circumstances or people in their lives for these problems.

When this happens, you need an intervention. Through the application of any of the substance abuse intervention techniques discussed in this guide, you will be better able to break through this denial and start helping these addicted individuals to see the effects of their alcoholism and drug addiction on those who matter the most to them.

Timing An Intervention

The common belief among many is that addicts need to hit rock bottom before they are ready to start seeking help. This view, however, has been debunked by the rehabilitation and addiction treatment community.

For instance, according to the Indiana Prevention and Resource Center, you may want to intervene as early as possible. Only by so doing will you be able to help your addicted loved one(s) before their substance abuse leads to sustained damage.

Before hosting one, however, you should already have a treatment and rehabilitation plan in place. This way, the addict can easily proceed from the intervention and directly into the treatment program - even if they do not agree to the consensus of the group.

This means that you should secure a spot in one treatment program or another and pack a bag before the intervention. If you invite a professional interventionist - which is the most recommended course of action to take - ask them to escort the addict to the rehabilitation facility to ensure that they get there safely.

Major Intervention Models

Popular media usually plays out the concept of hosting interventions for loved ones who are suffering from drug abuse or alcohol addiction. Therefore, when most people think of an intervention, they imagine that it involves luring unsuspecting addicts into a roomful of friends and family with the intention of talking about the addictive behavior and confronting them for it. However, this is not all there is to interventions.

Although this model might prove to be effective in a couple of cases, it does not comprehensively describe the best route to take in all situations. To help you along, the following are some of the most effective substance abuse intervention techniques you can use:

1. Workplace Interventions

Mostly organized by employers and/or colleagues, workplace interventions refer to substance abuse intervention techniques that occur in the work setting - such as in a store, factory, or office.

In most of these commercial and busy environments, alcohol and drug use tend to be highly prevalent. In fact, recent statistics show that there were close to 13 million drug users employed in the USA alone.

The existence of a substance use problem in the workplace tends to have devastating effects - both for the success of the company and the productivity of other employees. To prevent such issues, and ensure that serious damage does not occur, it might be necessary for your workplace to have an inbuilt intervention model.

In such a case, you can work the substance abuse intervention techniques in two different ways. For starters, managers and supervisors can implement policies that provide other staff members with an overview of what they should look for among the group with regards to spotting alcohol and drug use.

Since employees tend to spend long periods with each other, it is easy to see why we have put this particular substance abuse intervention technique as the first in the list of options.

These policies must additionally give details about how to set up the intervention to ensure that the chances of success are even better. While you can involve other directors, managers, and employees, however, it might be best if you got a qualified interventionist from the industry. This is because they would be in a better place to know exactly what should be done, how to move forward, and eventually get the affected individual the help they need and deserve.

2. The Johnson Intervention Model

Among the most widely recognized of all substance abuse intervention techniques, the Johnson Model acts as a direct option that focuses on helping get the addict into rehab and a treatment facility through personal confrontation.

In most cases, you might assume that an addict does not necessarily care about your feelings. However, this may only be because the substance abuser is only distracting themselves by taking drugs and alcohol to ensure that they stop focusing on what they are doing to their loved ones. This may be because such a focus would be too painful for them to handle. Instead, it might cause them to feel ashamed and guilty.

In such a situation, the Johnson model of substance abuse intervention is often the best option. This is because it will force the addict to admit that they have a problem and acknowledge their behaviors and all resultant consequences.

Otherwise referred to as the Surprise Intervention model, this option requires loved ones to meet up and try to get the addict among them to seek treatment on their own. Those present will, for instance, talk to the addict and inform them about the pain their substance abuse has caused and is causing.

This is one of the substance abuse intervention techniques that work best for addicts who are unlikely to shy away whenever they feel isolated or abandoned by their loved ones.

Actually, one of the specific concerns among most of the subjects is relapse. Informa Healthcare even recently reported that the rates of relapse among 5 different types of rehabilitation referral models were at 38 to 79% - with the Johnson intervention model ranking second in the group.

More often than not, the primary caregiver in the addict's life will facilitate such an intervention - of course through the help of professionally trained interventionists and plan for it.

This is also one of the substance abuse intervention techniques that require those present to participate actively and threaten the addict with consequences if they refuse help. By so doing, the participants will be hoping that the addict will hopefully seek help even if they don't want it. Luckily, this approach works wonderfully.

However, although this model works well for some individuals struggling with addiction, it might also cause severe problems. Psychology Today reports that confrontational methods such as the Johnson Intervention Model do not always work. In fact, using pressure and shame could end up causing even more harm than good - such as forcing the addict to stop contacting those present or leading them to relapse.

3. Invitational Model

This model is quick straightforward. It is ranked among the most effective substance abuse intervention techniques - probably because it does not come with the element of surprise common with other methods.

In general, the friends and family of the addict will schedule a meeting or a workshop with a professional interventionist. One of the participants will then invite the addicted individual to the meeting and provide full knowledge of what is just about to happen during the discussions.

The addict is then left to freely decide whether they should go to the intervention or not. Whatever their decision, the meeting will still occur to chart a way forward for the addict.

4. Field Model

The Field Model, on the other hand, combines the Invitational Model and the Johnson Model. This is one of the few substance abuse intervention techniques that are designed in such a way that you can easily adapt to the situation you find yourself in.

For instance, if the addict has a potential for violence or you need to put the intervention in a hurry, you need to use this model to mitigate any negative energy or responses from them.

The name Field Intervention is derived from the fact that it is often applied in the field. This allows the therapist involved in it to make rapid and instantaneous decisions depending on the circumstances.

According to the founder of the model (Jane Mitz), this is the only one of the substance abuse intervention techniques that works well irrespective of the condition and risk profile of the addict. She also believes that it is a subsidiary of the better known Johnson Model - but with greater precision and focus.

This is because there is more to addiction than just a problem with substance abuse. In fact, most addicts are mentally ill, suffer from polydrug abuse, or are victims of childhood abuse or neglect. These conditions continue plaguing them deep into their adult years.

Trained interventions in these substance abuse intervention techniques will know how to predict the reactions and actions of the addict as well as how to handle any problems that may arise unexpectedly.

For instance, if the addict decides to become violent, the Field interventionist will subdue them and get the intervention back on track. They will also try to get everything on the right foot and ensuring that everyone present is on the same page.

5. Systemic Intervention Model

Otherwise referred to as the systematic family intervention, this model focuses on treating the family as a whole unit and not just the addict. As such, it comes with several substance abuse intervention techniques to ensure that the entire family is educated on why everyone has to change their habits and lifestyles too if only to help the addict to get better and sober.

This intervention model is common knowledge in most American households through the popular and aptly titled "Intervention" television show. It is also effective because it gives loved ones the opportunity to address the actions of the addict.

That said, the systemic intervention model recognizes the fact that it is not the addict alone who is getting hurt by the alcohol and/or drug abuse. However, it also shows that the addict is not the only one who is perpetuating the actions and behavior.

The fire, for instance, may also be fueled by parents, spouses, and siblings even without knowing that they are doing it. In most cases, the Systemic interventionist might even discover the unresolved issues and problems in the family that might have led to the addiction.

If you opt to choose this particularly familial of all substance abuse intervention techniques, you should keep in mind that the process will not end the moment the addict checks into a rehabilitation facility. Instead, the process must focus on helping the whole family heal as well as on preparing them for the time when the addict will return home.

These recommendations may include hiding prescription medications and money from the addict or trying not to drink around the alcoholic. You might also have to take more intense precautions, such as going for counseling sessions with the addict in a bid to work on communications skills and behavioral modifications.

The primary difference between this intervention model and others is that the addict will be invited to participate in the entire process from the beginning. This means that there will be no hidden agendas or surprises.

6. Motivational Interviewing

Motivational interviewing is one of the substance abuse intervention techniques that focus less on strategy and more on conversing with the addict. The Essential Handbook of Treatment and Prevention (of alcohol problems) notes that the goal of the method is to encourage the substance abuser or addict to start making positive changes in behavior simply through conversation.

The aims and aspirations of the therapist in such a case would be to guide the substance abuser, understand their viewpoints, build trust, and offer empathy. By so doing, the therapist gets to help the addict to base goals that they can use to change their negative behavior - such as drug and alcohol abuse.

However, you should keep in mind that even though motivational interviewing tends to lack most of the confrontational aspects you would find in the other substance abuse intervention techniques, it may still provoke resistance and feelings of denial from the addict.

7. Crisis Interventions

Crisis interventions work best for addicts in need of immediate and urgent rehabilitation and treatment. As such, it is commonly used on addicts who have been battling co-morbid substance abuse and mental health problems. The method works well during breakdowns as well as when the addict has little leverage and they are vulnerable.

According to NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness), 37% of alcoholics and 53% of drug addicts have serious mental illnesses. Other crises that may warrant such an intervention include, but are not necessarily limited to:

Crisis interventions, to this end, work well to urge addicts to check into rehab at a point in their lives when they are in desperate need. In some situations, however, a professional interventionist can get the substance abuser committed (even if this may not be their will) particularly if they are deemed to be a threat to another's or their own well-being.

The most common and biggest reasons for such forced commitment into a rehab facility include suicidal ideation, actions, and attempts, as well as violence (or the threat of it) against others.

It might also be important for you to note that this is among the many substance abuse intervention techniques that are carried out openly and directly. In most cases, those involved will not have enough time to waste trying to sugarcoat the situation.

As such, the interventionist and other participants will confront the addict directly about their substance abuse and all related behaviors. After that, they will be given a choice to either proceed to the treatment facility or run the risk of facing even more dire consequences.

Due to its inherent nature, crisis interventions are often not planned or lengthy. Instead, the loved ones quickly bring in professional interventionists after they notice that things have gotten to a particularly low point and that the addict has finally hit the proverbial rock bottom. It may happen at a police station following an arrest, at a health facility followed an overdose, or even at a bail hearing.

8. Love First Method

The love first approach tends to be more emotional. It also appeals to the substance abusers feelings towards their loved ones and family/friends. To successfully host this most emotive of all substance abuse intervention techniques, you may want to carry it out at a place where the addict will be comfortable and feel they are not being threatened - such as the home they lived in during their childhood and where the parents still stay.

To ensure that the family does not disagree during the process - which tends to happen when people are within environments where they feel secure and safe - the interventionist will often act as the guide and mediator during the process.

Not surprisingly, this method does not involve negative statements and accusations. Instead, the friends and family will come together to support treatment and use the opportunity to express their care and unconditional love for the substance abuser.

The goal of the Love First approach is to encourage the affected individual to desire assistance and to active seek help for themselves once they get to understand that they have the support they need and rediscover the many reasons why they should get better.

In the process, the support network may also learn how to be encouraging and positive instead of arguing or placing blame. This is because the root of this method is founded on the belief that some addicts may agree to go for treatment even without being bullied, forced, or pushed into a rehabilitation center.

9. Tough Love Intervention Approach

In most stereotypical families, parents get to provide their children with overwhelming and unconditional support. They accept the children as they are and ensure that they have a safe place to go to in case of mistakes. As such, the door remains open to the children irrespective of the situation they find themselves in.

However, some parents may soon come to learn that unconditional love is an open invitation for the children to start misbehaving and even take to alcoholism and drug abuse. When this happens, the love might even be responsible for the addiction of the loved one.

Today, the tough love approach to intervention encourages families and parents to apply tough love as a prevention strategy to ensure that children and teens do not get into drug abuse or alcoholism. It also works well as a tool for helping those who are already addicted turn around and seek help.

Additionally, specialists use the principles of tough love in the intervention and clearly lay you the consequences that will befall the addict if they refuse to check into a rehab facility and get clean. After that, they steer the substance abuser towards making the recommended choice - failure to which they run the risk of facing the clearly and directly explained consequences head on.

The Need For Professional Interventionists

With so many substance abuse intervention techniques out there, knowing the exact one to use and how to host or conduct it might prove to be something of a hindrance in your bid to help a loved one seek treatment and overcome their addiction.

The truth of the matter is that interventions are conversations that come with many different aspects, perspectives, emotions, and conflicts. Therefore, if you wish to stage one, you may want to get someone to help you out.

Even as you start collecting the group of family and friends (as well as colleagues) who will participate, never forget the importance of professional interventionists. Not only are they trained in executing the different substance abuse intervention techniques we've discussed above, they will also know how to help you get your loved one into a treatment facility - even if this means using force to ensure it happens.

To this end, you have higher chances of making the intervention successful if you get a professional interventionist to come to your aid. They will, for instance, help you plan the intervention, execute it, run it expertly, and improve your odds that the entire process will go according to plan.

At the end of the day, you should keep in mind that regardless of the substance abuse intervention techniques that are right for you and your loved one, it is essential that you get guidance and support from a trained and qualified therapist or interventionist. After all, only these professionals can help you steer the addict in your circle towards recovery and sobriety through the intervention and the resultant rehabilitation and treatment.

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