Intervention Program at Lasting Recovery

group staging an interventionAccording to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), up to 10% of Americans have dealt with a drug use disorder at some point in their lives, while the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reports that nearly 15 million people ages 12 and up have experienced an alcohol use disorder.

Families and friends of people struggling with drug or alcohol abuse know how hard it can be for their loved one to overcome their addiction and live a sober life. All too often, individuals who abuse substances may not be fully aware of the extent of their problem or may simply not want to seek help. When this happens, their family and friends can unite to stage an intervention.

At Lasting Recovery, we provide professional intervention services led by our co-founder and trained interventionist Judy Saalinger. We believe that interventions work best when both families and their loved ones break through the denial that too often surrounds addiction. This means having honest, sometimes difficult conversations that need to be carefully moderated by a professional interventionist. A successful intervention can provide the foundation for future treatment, including opportunities for family members to get involved in their loved one’s recovery.

Let’s explore how interventions work and why staging an intervention may be the right next step for your loved one struggling with addiction.

What Is An Intervention?

An intervention is an organized gathering where individuals close to the addicted person try to get that individual to recognize the toll of addiction on their life and the lives of those who love them. When successful, an intervention provides a chance for addicted individuals to hear how their addiction and behavior have become problems that go beyond their own individual choices and consequences.

An intervention can be an effective tool to help someone struggling with a host of addictive behaviors, including:

  • Alcohol use
  • Prescription drug misuse
  • Illicit drug use

There are different types of interventions. The most well-known is the Johnson Model, in which family members and a professional interventionist confront the person without that individual having any prior knowledge of the event.

The Field Model offers a variation on the Johnson Model but focuses on situations where the substance abuser may be a danger to themselves or others. In this approach, a trained interventionist may also address other conditions, such as depression, that may impact the individual’s addiction.

The final model is the Invitation Model, also known as a Systemic Family Intervention. This option takes a more family-centered approach. In this model, the addicted individual and their family attend a workshop run by an interventionist that focuses on how the addiction has affected the entire family.

How Professional Interventionists Stage an Intervention

When working with a professional interventionist, you’ll notice that much of the process involves significant preparation and planning in advance. This is because, for many individuals, an intervention may be the first serious attempt by their family and friends to persuade them to seek help. Though every intervention is different, most professional interventionists will follow some variation of the following steps:

  • Make a plan. A trained professional will help prepare for the intervention by finding a safe and controlled space for the event, as well as putting together guidelines and ground rules. Some interventions are a surprise to the person dealing with the addiction, but sometimes interventionists will request that family members tell the addicted person that they want to have a conversation about their addiction.
  • Gather information. Interventionists will help family members conduct research to find an appropriate treatment program for their loved one to attend to after the intervention if it is successful. A good interventionist will also help educate family members about the particular addiction affecting their loved one.
  • Select attendees. While many family members and friends will want to participate, a successful intervention often requires a small group of people present. An interventionist will help you develop a list of friends, family, and colleagues who should participate in the process. You will then need to determine a date and a time for the intervention.
  • Determine the consequences. Should the person not be receptive to the idea of seeking treatment for their addiction, what are the consequences that their family and friends are willing to impose? Are there other boundaries that need to be put in place, if the person decides to not seek help? An interventionist can help you make these important decisions in advance of the intervention.
  • Prepare your notes. The interventionist may recommend that family members and friends write down notes—or even a script—to follow during the event itself. Having a written guide is usually a good idea for participants to help remind them of points they wish to make to their loved one during the intervention, especially when people get emotional or distracted.

When planned well, an intervention can help someone living with drug or alcohol addiction understand that their substance abuse is not only affecting them but also the lives of those they love.

How to Ensure An Intervention That Works

In the preparation phase of the intervention, your interventionist partner will help you develop a plan for each step. While this plan will include proactive steps you can take, it will also likely include steps you should avoid. Here are a few examples of common missteps during an intervention to avoid:

  • Use caution when selecting participants. A good interventionist will carefully curate the attendees at the event itself. Heed their advice! Members of the intervention team should not include someone that the addicted individual actively dislikes, or they may feel attacked, shamed, or threatened.
  • Watch the terms you use. Avoid derogatory language, including such stereotypical terms as junkie, alcoholic, or addict. Instead, use words that are more neutral and don’t define the person solely by their addiction. Using clinical terminology like “substance use disorder” is often more effective than slang terms or colloquialisms.
  • Be mindful of emotions. Talking to your loved one about their addiction can be challenging and may lead to emotions like sadness, frustration, and anger. While you shouldn’t censor your emotions, be mindful of letting strong feelings override the event. Becoming upset can happen but try to find a way to discuss your loved one’s challenges without letting emotions take over the conversation.
  • Be honest. An intervention is not about being coercive or deceitful. Trying to shame your loved one into attending treatment will not help, nor will being resentful, passive-aggressive, or angry. The best way to proceed is from a place of love and honesty, so your loved one knows that they have your support.

Finally, if your loved one is not sober during the planned intervention time, it is best to wait until they are before proceeding with the intervention.

What Happens After an Intervention?

group sitting in a circle during an interventionIf the intervention is successful, the next step is for your loved one to attend treatment. Luckily, a trained interventionist can help you locate and enroll your loved one in an effective, evidence-based treatment program. They can also help you understand the different types of treatment programs available to your loved one, including residential and outpatient programs.

Make sure to find out in advance what your loved one’s health insurance policy will cover. If they don’t currently have insurance, determine how treatment can be covered financially if your loved one agrees to attend. Typical treatment options include:

  • Detoxification
  • Residential treatment
  • Outpatient treatment
  • Behavioral therapy
  • Medication assisted treatment
  • Support and self-help groups

When selecting the right type of treatment program for your loved one, consider a variety of different factors. A professional interventionist can help with this process. Factors to consider include:

  • How severe is your loved one’s addiction?
  • What are the substances that your loved one struggles with?
  • Does your loved one have other behavioral or mental health issues that also require treatment?
  • Is your loved one fully committed to quitting their drug and alcohol use?
  • Has your loved one ever attended an addiction treatment program before?

It’s important for you and your family to be emotionally and mentally prepared for the possibility that your loved one may refuse treatment. They may even become angry when confronted with their addiction. An intervention can cause individuals to become resentful or insist that those confronting them are hypocrites.

If the intervention doesn’t work, you and your family need to follow through on the consequences you presented during the event. For example, if you set a proposed boundary that your loved one had to move out of the home if they didn’t seek help, you need to follow through on that boundary. Boundaries are designed to protect family members from the upheaval and destruction that can come with addiction. Making these changes can offer family and friends an opportunity to make positive changes in their lives, even if the individual isn’t yet ready for treatment.

Do you know someone that could benefit from an intervention? Lasting Recovery is here to help. Talk to one of our trained staff members to learn how you can help your loved one on the path to recovery.

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