But despite all of these consequences, many people suffering from a substance abuse disorder do not seek treatment. In fact, according to data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), almost 90% of addicts don’t end up seeking treatment, many of whom simply deny having a problem in the first place.
That’s where interventions come in. An intervention is aimed at confronting an addicted individual with the reality of their substance abuse problem as well as the effects and detriments it has on their friends, family members, and coworkers.
However, performing a successful intervention can be tricky and shouldn’t be launched into haphazardly. Instead, careful and meticulous planning as well as a solid education on what makes an intervention effective is essential to getting the party to ultimately agree to treatment.
According to the Association of Intervention Specialists (AIS), an intervention is “a gathering where family, friends and even colleagues gather together with the addict and in a caring way present the reality of their situation to them.”
Whether you’ve learned about it from personal experience, heard about it from a friend, or seen it on TV, an intervention in most people’s minds is usually an emotionally charged situation where family members force an addicted individual into rehab.
And while it’s true, some interventions can be quite volatile, not all are as traumatic as those that are portrayed on TV. In fact, many professional intervention groups like Family Fist Intervention claim success rates of 90% after the first intervention attempt.
However, there are a variety of factors that come into play when it comes to staging a successful intervention. The severity of the addiction, the planning of the process, and the commitment of the parties involved all must be taken into account, preferably by a qualified professional interventionist.
The first step in preparing for an intervention is assessing the severity of the individual’s addiction. This can be tough, especially when the affected party is unwilling to admit that they have a problem in the first place.
However, there are a number of signs you can watch out for when assessing the overall addiction of your loved one such as changes in energy levels, unpredictable moods, and withdrawals from responsibilities at home or at work.
If you are especially close with the individual, you can also use a number of online assessments to give you a better idea of their level of addiction. These assessments range from short online quizzes that only take a few minutes to more in-depth questionnaires such as those provided by NIDA.
What’s more, you can also enlist the help of a professional addiction facility to aid you in gauging the severity of the individual’s substance use disorder.
In the end, determining the overall level of addiction will help you and your interventionist decide on which approach is most likely to end up resulting in the substance abuser eventually seeking treatment.
Given that not all approaches work equally well for every level of addiction, it’s absolutely crucial that you find out just how bad the problem has gotten before the actual intervention, not in the middle of it.
Reality TV has seen an enormous surge in popularity over the past several decades. Whether it’s watching entitled and wealthy trophy wives tear at one another’s throats or placing bets on who is going to get kicked out of the tribe on a deserted island, the thrill of reality is one that’s certainly resonated with audiences.
A&E’s Intervention is one reality TV show that has become incredibly popular since its debut in 2005. In fact, it’s already on season 17.
And although this show has undoubtedly brought a significant amount of much-needed attention to problems like our nation’s addiction to painkillers, it’s important to remember that Intervention is a television show – and that means it needs to bring in ratings in order to stay on the air.
As such, Intervention’s producers likely seek out only the most dramatic of cases to put on the show. Addiction is not always as extreme as it appears in Hollywood and, in fact, many addicts may actually be higher functioning than you might expect.
What’s more, interventions don’t always end dramatically like they do on TV. Sometimes a quick resolution (whether good or bad) is replaced instead by planting the seed of an idea that takes time to really grow. Some people get the help they need, others refuse it, but ultimately, it’s not always as cut and dry as Intervention may make it seem.
The Mayo Clinic outlines seven basic steps that most typical interventions follow. Depending on the situation, your specific intervention may follow a different pattern or general flow.
Planning is a crucial part of any effective intervention. These confrontations can get emotional to be sure. But the more precisely you plan, the better able you’ll be to stay on course and bring about real change.
Research your loved one’s problem – how addicted they really are, what are some of the side effects of continued substance abuse, treatment options, etc.
Gather a team to help you stage the intervention. Include friends, family members, coworkers, professionals – whoever will help bring about the most change.
Figure out the consequences you’re willing to enforce if they say no to treatment.
Work out exactly what you want to say beforehand. Print it out if you have to. Once again, preparation is key to getting the help they need.
This is the most delicate part of the entire process. As such, it’s important to follow a few specific guidelines to keep control in the situation.
We’ll take a look at each of these steps a little more in-depth but it’s worth remembering that not all interventions are exactly the same. As such, it is monumentally more helpful to consult a professional than going it alone.
The intervention process starts by creating an intervention plan. What do you generally want to communicate at the intervention? Who you will bring? What are your conditions for their treatment and what kinds of consequences will there be if they refuse to get help?
As mentioned before, the success of an intervention can be highly dependent on just how meticulously an intervention is planned out as well as how closely you stick to that plan throughout the process.
This, of course, is easier said than done. Interventions can become incredibly emotional situations and it may be tough to adhere to the structure in the heat of the moment. However, it is important to remember that the more detailed your plan is, the higher the likelihood for success.
And most importantly, do not take an intervention lightly. There are a number of techniques you can employ if time is especially limited but throwing together an intervention haphazardly significantly reduces the chances of success.
What’s more, each failed intervention makes it increasingly unlikely that future interventions will be taken seriously by the individual. As such, you’ll want to prepare as much as possible – this could be your only shot.
Hiring a professional interventionist, then, is undoubtedly the best route to take here.
There’s no one-size-fits-all intervention strategy out there. Just as every addict’s experience with a substance of abuse differs, so too does the intervention approach that works best for them.
The Johnson Intervention Model – One of the most widely used approaches to interventions, the Johnson Intervention Model is a family focused approach to intervention. The main goal is of course to motivate the abuser to seek treatment but is achieved by encouraging them to change their lifestyle for the good of themselves as well as for the good of the family.
The Johnson Intervention Model is also confrontational. The addict is not aware of the nature of the meeting or that an intervention was being planned all along. Once he/she arrives, the family and friends deliver statements that reflect how bad the problem has really gotten.
The addict is then given the ultimatum of seeking treatment with the support of their loved ones or denying it and facing the consequences that the caring members came up with beforehand. These could include cutting off all communication, removal from the home, taking back borrowed items, etc.
While this model works for some, others may perceive the intervention as an attack, grow even angrier, and may end up spiraling even further into alcoholism or substance abuse as a result.
The Invitational Model – One of the most notable benefits of the invitational model is the fact that it is non-confrontational in nature. No surprises, no attacks, and a lower likelihood of feeling betrayed.
The invitational model involves scheduling a session with a professional interventionist and gathering friends and family members that may think the individual has developed a serious substance used disorder. The individual is also invited to the meeting but the gathering will still take place regardless of whether they are there or not.
AIS reports that 56% of addicted individuals enter treatment after this first meeting. If they do not, however, communication between loved ones and the individual are to cease entirely. If that doesn’t motivate them to seek treatment, then further and more severe consequences are imposed.
The Field Model – The field model is considered by most intervention specialists to be a combination of the Johnson Model and the Invitational Model of interventions.
Rather than putting all of their eggs into one basket, practitioners of the Field Model have significantly more freedom and can actually choose to use the Invitational or the Johnson Model based on the specific circumstances.
If, for instance, the specialist determines that the addicted individual may react aggressively to a confrontational approach as with the Johnson model (based perhaps on prior interventions, severity of abuse, etc.), then they can shift to the Invitational Model to increase the chances of overall success.
In a sense, it allows them to decide “in the field” which approach is more likely to result in the afflicted party getting the substance abuse help they need. What’s more, it can be especially useful for substance abusers that are at risk of physically hurting themselves or others.
The Family Systemic Intervention Model – Addiction is a disease with impacts that extend far beyond the individual. Workplace associates, friends, and family members all suffer when someone struggles with an addiction.
The Family Systemic Intervention Model shifts the focus away from the addicted individual directly and emphasizes how the rest of the family is affected by the addiction itself.
Similar to the Invitational Model, the Family Systemic Intervention Model is non-confrontational by nature, making it ideal for individuals that may become angry or distant with other approaches like the Johnson Model.
Members of the family as well as the substance abuser usually attend a number meetings with a certified interventionist. In fact, sometimes the process can last for several months.
In the end, the eventual push is for substance abuse treatment coupled with family therapy in order to maintain a cohesive family structure throughout the course of recovery.
This approach is particularly helpful in that it takes some of the focus away from the substance abuser and is not as rigidly structured as some of the other intervention models as well.
Motivational Interviewing – Motivational Interviewing is one of the most flexible forms of intervention. This model usually involves one-on-one interactions between the professional interventionist and the addicted party. Many times, the presence of friends and family members is not beneficial.
Similar to psychological therapy, the sessions of a Motivational Interviewing Intervention are geared towards working out the root causes of addiction, what they can do to recover, and how it’s affecting the lives of others.
This model is characterized by a number of techniques aimed at helping the substance abuser to come to conclusions and work through problems by themselves rather than just absorbing information from others.
These techniques include affirmative statements, open-ended questions, reflective listening, and summarizing.
While this method can be especially effective at convincing the substance abuser to seek out treatment on their own (since many of the conclusions reached during the sessions come from the individuals themselves), not everyone will embrace or even agree to such sessions in the first place.
The next step in a successful intervention is gathering information. Not all substance use disorders are the same. Some drugs, for instance, may have especially intense physical cravings associated with them. Others, like certain hallucinogens, could only carry psychological addictions (which can still be incredibly difficult to overcome).
It can be especially useful, then, to study in-depth addiction guides for your loved one’s substance of abuse. That way, you can enter into the intervention knowing just what kinds of short- and long-term effects they can expect thanks to their addiction.
What’s more, doing your homework on the nature of addiction itself will give you a foundation of knowledge that will help you better understand just what they’re going through. Learning to see addiction as a disease rather than a matter of willpower, for example, may give you a whole new perspective on their mindset.
And finally, it is especially important to go into any intervention scenario with the various treatment options in mind. Doing so will help you explain the recovery process to them and help dispel any erroneous notions of what detox and recovery really entails.
Entering into an intervention knowing the variety of treatment options available for your loved one can be the difference between a positive outcome and a negative one. If you’re more able to clearly communicate that they have options that truly resonate with their situation, they’re likely to be more willing to seek recovery.
It’s worth mentioning that these options are not mutually exclusive. Many facilities will have some of these options, others may only have a few. The key here to is to find a treatment center that fits your specific needs while still employing evidence-based approaches to drug addiction treatment.
Below are just some of the treatment options available today. Familiarize yourself with each and be prepared to explain these treatment options to your loved one. Doing so will make their transition into recovery much easier.
Many insurance companies will cover 100% of the cost of outpatient treatment. Call today and find out if your plan qualifies. We can also help with financing. (208) 906-0782
After planning what type of intervention you’ll utilize and doing your homework on substance abuse and how it’s treated, it’s time to form the intervention team. While the planning group you’ve used to help set up the intervention so far can certainly be part of the intervention team, it doesn’t have to be the same.
You’ll want a mix of both family members and nonfamily members involved here. Typically, family members will have the most emotionally-charged reactions so its beneficial to have individuals outside of the familial unit to help keep the process on track.
After all, it’s important to keep the conversation level-headed so as not to cause the individual to abandon the intervention entirely.
Additionally, it’s also important to select the right location to hold the intervention. You’ll want to find a comfortable atmosphere that the individual won’t feel especially anxious in. What’s more, you’ll also want to avoid public places as this is obviously a very private situation.
And finally, you will undoubtedly want to bring in a professional interventionist into the mix if you haven’t already. This individual will help guide you through the process and ensure that your intervention stays on track throughout.
An interventionist can bring a whole new level of skill, experience, and professionalism to your intervention and help dramatically increase the odds of the addicted party seeking professional help.
Not only will they help you through every single step of the process (selecting which intervention approach is right for you, helping you create an effective intervention team, guiding you on what to say during the intervention, etc.), they’ll also be instrumental in carrying out the meeting according to plan.
They’ll also have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to substance abuse treatment so they’ll be especially effective at helping you convince your loved one to go to rehab.
In essence, they’re there to make your intervention infinitely more successful.
Although many insurance companies typically cover the costs of substance abuse rehabilitation to one degree or another, interventionists are not usually included in coverage plans.
As such, most interventionists will charge between $2000 to $3500 for their services.
But given the costs of treatment versus the overall costs of addiction, hiring an interventionist is one choice that’s undoubtedly worth the price.
Finding a qualified interventionist in your area should be one of the first steps when considering how to stage a substance abuse intervention. While there are some programs that operate on the national level, the best option is to look for a semi-local intervention service.
Not only will this help cut down on travel costs for the specialist (thereby ensuring you aren’t paying more than you have to), a local interventionist will also typically have a working relationship with treatment facilities and may make checking into rehab even easier.
Some helpful contacts:
There are two main goals of any intervention: to inform the substance abuser of the reality of their addiction and the damage it’s causing and to try to motivate the addicted to seek professional treatment for their substance use disorder.
One of the most effective ways of motivating a substance abuser to actually get help is by attaching certain consequences to the outcome of the intervention. If, for example, the addicted party decides not to seek treatment, the family members may choose to cut off all contact with the individual.
Deciding on (and sticking to) these consequences is a crucial part of any intervention. The key here is not to set out to hurt the addicted individual directly. Rather, you’ll want to determine the instances of your life that overlap with theirs and try to remove them.
Coming up with the proper consequences is only one part of a successful intervention. You also have to actually stick to these consequences yourself.
It can be almost unbearable watching someone you love struggle. You may give them food, shelter, and money to get back on their feet at first, only to wake up one day and realize that you’ve been supporting them for years on end.
Your continued help isn’t always making them better though – in fact, it’s oftentimes making things even worse.
This is called enabling. And the longer you do it, the more difficult their recovery is going to be.
That’s why you need to make the choice to stop enabling their substance abuse problem for good. In fact, it may even be the most helpful thing you can do for them.
It’s also crucial to remember that even if your loved one doesn’t immediately seek help for their substance abuse problem after the intervention, they may still end up asking for treatment after they realize how important your support really was.
So just because they walked away doesn’t necessarily mean that the intervention was a failure. Give it time. And most importantly, stick to your consequences.
Many intervention models will suggest that you and the intervention group each write a letter to read to the addicted loved one. This is meant to help organize your thoughts and communicate exactly how their addiction makes you feel.
Some people may find it difficult to find the right words for their intervention letter though. Where do you begin? What are you supposed to say?
The most effective letters usually convey three core messages: that you love and support them, that their addiction is real, and that it is affecting your life.
A general structure that you may find helpful to adhere to is:
Below are a few importnat tips to keep in mind when writing your intervention letter.
Use Specifics – This one is paramount. The more specifics you can provide (within reason of course), the more effective your letter will be. Here’s an example of some powerful specifics in a letter from the Love First organization:
When I come to visit you, and I’m on my way out to walk the dog, if you’re in the garage I’ll try to wait a little while because I don’t want to catch you secretly pouring a drink. I do this to save you embarrassment. Or else I try to make a lot of noise in the laundry room so you know I’m coming, and you can hide the alcohol.
The final step in the intervention process is, of course, actually holding it.
This is where all of your hard work and meticulous planning finally pays off. If you’ve been diligent in structuring how the conversation will go and what will be said, the intervention is bound to go much more smoothly than if you’d staged it spontaneously.
What’s more, if you’ve utilized the help of a professional interventionist along the way, then you are even more likely to convince your loved one to seek the help that they so desperately need.
Depending on which intervention model you’re using, what exactly you can expect from an intervention can vary quite wildly. In Invitational Intervention, for instance, may seem more akin to a group counseling session while the Johnson Model (which is much more confrontational) may require you to emotionally prepare for aggression, outbursts, and even leaving altogether.
However, there are a few common elements in most of the models.
For one thing, all of the parties involved will likely get a turn to read their prepared statements. Then the loved one will usually be presented with a treatment option that is best suited for their situation. And finally, the team members will communicate the changes that each plan to make if treatment isn’t accepted.
After that, it’s up to the addicted party to decide whether or not they will seek professional help for their substance use disorder.
Here are a few tips to follow in order to keep the intervention running smoothly.
Watching someone you love suffer from a substance abuse problem can be heartbreaking. What’s worse, you may feel like there’s nothing you can do to actually help them overcome it.
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