What Is a Drug and Alcohol Intervention?
An Intervention is a meeting between family members and friends who want to help a loved one with an addiction. It involves confronting the addict about the harm their addiction is causing and the importance of quitting. A successful intervention will help someone change his/her behavior and improve his/her life. If you have a loved one who is in need of an intervention, here are some factors to keep in mind.1
- Think Clearly About What You Want the Outcome Of The Intervention To Be
The first step is to determine what change needs to be made. This may seem like common sense, however, it isn’t always easy for family members to know exactly what they want from your loved one. It takes time to develop this awareness. You need to ask yourself questions such as: What do I really want my loved one to learn or accomplish during his/her recovery process? How much support does he/she require? Do I have any concerns about relapse prevention after him/her returning home? Remember, sometimes big change needs to come through a series of small steps.
- Pick The Right People to Take Part In The Intervention
Begin by choosing the right team members for the job. You need someone to lead the group; that person can either be another loved one or a professional such as a social worker or counselor. The leader needs to know how to motivate others and keep them focused on their goal: getting the addicted individual to get treatment.
- Prepare Intervention Rehearsals
Rehearsal helps everyone understand the purpose of the meeting. This includes family members as well as friends and acquaintances. If you have a large group, then you need to make sure that all participants know where they fit in the process. You want them to feel comfortable with the order of events so that no one feels left out. Rehearsals will help with group solidarity once the real intervention begins.
- Conduct the Intervention in a Private but Comfortable Place
Interventions are a sensitive process, many don’t feel comfortable having a discussion about mental health in front of others. Consider using a formal space such as an office or a conference room. This is where you’ll find yourself most relaxed, so this should be the location that you choose if you need to discuss sensitive topics. If possible, try not to schedule times when there are children present.
- Don’t Deviate From The Script
It is best to follow the script carefully because you’re trying to convey information, rather than entertain. Your objective is to convince your loved one to seek treatment. So, stick to the facts without embellishing anything. For example, say something along these lines: “I’m concerned about you. We’ve been talking about this problem for months now. We are worried for you.” In addition, it is best not to tell anyone else why you think your loved one has a drug or alcohol problem unless you’re asked directly.
- Pick An Appropriate Time To Talk
The right time depends on when the addict will have his or her next drink or use of drugs. If it’s early enough that they won’t need any help getting started, then an earlier meeting might work better than waiting until later. But if there are signs that they’re already drinking or using again, wait until they’ve had some time to recover from whatever happened before talking to them.
- Paying Attention To Sequencing Is Important
The order in which you present your information can have a significant impact on how well people listen. The best way to ensure they are listening closely is to make sure each speaker gets their turn. You should not interrupt anyone until after they finish speaking. When one participant finishes talking, give them time to respond if necessary. Then allow everyone else to share what they want to say.
- Use Accessible And Caring Language
Use accessible language whenever possible. For example, rather than referring to addiction as “a disease,” refer to it as something like “an illness.” Also avoid words like “bad” or “wrong.” Instead, talk about things like “making bad choices” or “doing wrong.” These terms convey more compassion for those struggling with substance abuse issues.
- Maintain Control Over Tempers
If you’re dealing with an angry person who is trying to control their anger through aggression, it’s important that you maintain control over your own temper. If you lose your composure, they will win. You need to remain calm and collected at all times so that you can keep them from getting away with anything.
- Have A Backup Plan Ready
When approached by family members in an intervention, people with addictions may respond in unexpected ways. If something goes wrong at the intervention, there may be no way out. If this happens, we recommend having a backup plan ready. This means knowing who else would take over as leader if someone gets sick or has another emergency. It also includes making sure everyone knows where to go when the meeting ends. You must have a clear understanding of who takes charge next.
- Be Prepared For Difficult Situations
You never know what kind of reaction you’ll receive from someone during an intervention. Some people will react positively because they’ve been waiting for years for someone to step forward and do something about their addiction. Others won’t show much emotion at all. They may become defensive or hostile. In these situations, you need to stay focused on the goal: To convince the addict to seek treatment.
Common Treatment Options After Successful Interventions
The best outcome of an intervention is for the individual to enroll in an addiction treatment program. Treatment options generally vary depending upon the client’s specific circumstances. In many cases, multiple treatment options are used simultaneously to treat a single client. Some treatment options provided by treatment facilities include:2
- Aversion Therapy – Aversion therapy utilizes conditioning techniques to drastically reduce the severity of cravings associated with drugs and alcohol. Studies have shown that Schick Shadel’s 10-Day Aversion Therapy reports a 69% success rate, which is considerably higher than other treatment methods.3
- Inpatient Treatment – An intensive program where patients live at a facility while receiving medical attention and therapy. Patients usually stay here until they are ready to go home. They receive 24 hour supervision and access to doctors and nurses throughout the day.
- Outpatient Treatment – Usually less intense than in-patient rehab but still provides support services. Outpatients attend group sessions and/or one on one meetings with counselors. These types of facilities allow individuals to maintain normal activities during the day.
- Detoxification – Detoxification refers to removing toxins from the body before beginning other forms of rehabilitation. Most detox centers provide medications which ease withdrawal symptoms. Many clinics offer outpatient detoxification options.
- Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Programs – SARPs focus on teaching addicts how to cope with cravings without resorting to substances. There are many techniques used including cognitive behavioral therapy, meditation, yoga, relaxation exercises, and hypnosis.
- Behavioral Therapy – Behavioral therapies teach patients how to change problematic behaviors. Examples of these would be learning to stop smoking or drinking excessively.
- Dual-Diagnosis – Dual diagnosis consists of treating substance use disorders and mental disorders simultaneously. For clients with diagnosed mental illnesses and drug or alcohol use disorders, this treatment can be paramount to establish a strong foundation of recovery.
Contact Schick Shadel for Help for Drug and Alcohol Addiction
Substance use disorders are chronic diseases that ruin lives. It affects the brain’s reward system by causing changes in how it processes information about rewards. The result of these changes is that people with substance use disorders have difficulty controlling their drug or alcohol intake. This leads them to continue using drugs despite negative consequences such as health problems, legal issues, family conflict, job loss, financial difficulties, etc.
There is no need to live under addiction any longer. Our staff at Schick Shadel is ready to help you break away from substance use disorders. Visit our Contact Page or call us at 1-800-CRAVING to get started.
- Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Brief Interventions and Brief Therapies for Substance Abuse. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 1999. (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 34.) Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64947/
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. 2020, September 18. Principles of Effective Treatment. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/principles-effective-treatment
- Elkins RL, Richards TL, Nielsen R, Repass R, Stahlbrandt H and Hoffman HG (2017) The Neurobiological Mechanism of Chemical Aversion (Emetic) Therapy for Alcohol Use Disorder: An fMRI Study. Front. Behav. Neurosci. 11:182. doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2017.00182