Addiction intervention is often a family’s last-resort option when coping with a loved one addicted to drugs and alcohol and refusing to stop using. This needs not be this way: an addict doesn’t necessarily need to hit rock-bottom to realize addiction rehabilitation is possible. Addicts deny their drug and alcohol addiction because the moment they admit to it, is the very second they admit something has to be done about it.
Denial and refusal to get help goes against everything addicts know deep down to be in their own self-interest. In other words, they need to abuse substances to feel normal, so drugs or alcohol have some survival value in their minds.
Addiction intervention is all too often used as a measure of last resort. It shouldn’t be. So much pain and heartache could be avoided by calling on a professional interventionist to lead a family intervention. When the family members participating in the intervention process hold firm to the role they are assigned and the boundaries that are set before the intervention, the process is successful ninety percent of the times. Learn more about addiction intervention, the role of the family, and how the process works.
What is an Intervention?
An addiction intervention is a pre-planned attempt by one or many people (family, friends, co-workers, neighbors) to persuade an addict to seek professional addiction treatment, and enter drug or alcohol rehabilitation. Interventions are usually carried out by family members and close friends, and they take their place in the addiction rehabilitation process. It is never too early to do an intervention, but it can most assuredly be too late.
The first part in planning an intervention is to find the right substance abuse treatment program for the addict. Usually the choice of the treatment and rehab center is left to the family under the guidance of a substance abuse counselor. This treatment center or alcohol rehab program will have an addiction intervention pro with whom they work in close cooperation. Choosing the drug rehab center first helps reducing the inevitable degree of confusion that surrounds the intervention process, and it also speeds up the latter to get the addict into rehab as soon as possible.
The ‘Informal’ Intervention
An informal intervention is usually a heartfelt conversation happening between a family member, friend or co-worker whom the addict trusts and whose opinion he or she values. These interventions are usually non-confrontational, and often intended to handle the drug or alcohol problem before things get out of hand.
How to conduct an informal intervention:
- Understand the components and inner workings of addiction
- Speak to a professional about doing the intervention, and get guidance from this professional
- Find a neutral spot to approach when the addict is sober, in a calming, private place
- Plan what you’re going to say & mentally prepare yourself for the soft intervention
- Convey your affection and respect to the addict
- Avoid making the person feel wronged or ashamed: getting into treatment is a good thing, love and the desire to help are the reasons for the conversation.
- Stirring feelings of guilt and shame only cause upset and make matters worse; if things get out of hand, it is better to withdraw.
The ‘assumption’ intervention
This type of addiction intervention is done by leaving information about drug or alcohol addiction and substance abuse treatment lying around in hope the addict will become curious and seek drug treatment on their own. Although assumption interventions could possibly work, they rarely do. They are worth the attempt though, to avoid matters turning confrontational and possibly violent.
Addiction Intervention Models
There are basically two models of intervention commonly practiced by intervention specialists today. The Johnson Model seeks to break the denial of the individual. Motivational Interviewing is the second (and more recent) intervention model. It deems denial to be an unimportant factor relative to other core issues.
The Johnson Model of Intervention
The Johnson Model of intervention is named after Vernon Johnson. Considered by some as the father of intervention, Johnson believed it was a myth that individuals would wake up one day and realize all of their own volition that they needed to seek treatment for an alcohol or drug problem.
In the Johnson Model, a professional interventionist helps family, friends and even employers to confront the drug addict or alcoholic individual. Many interventionists today will have each family member express their care for the person in their own words. This will be followed by statements of howthe chemically dependent person is hurting himself/herself, as well as the speaker. This step will be followed by guarantees of support for the positive behavior of entering treatment, accompanied with an explanation of the negative consequences if the individual refuses substance abuse treatment.
The proverbial “bottom line” is raised: the chemically-dependent person has to seek help before inflicting further damage to himself/herself and others. If these consequences are not met and held firm, the intervention will not work. The drug addict or alcoholic has to know his behavior is not okay and will not be tolerated anymore… or he will never agree to get help.
The Motivational Interviewing Model
In 1991, long after the Johnson Model had been accepted as the best practice model of intervention, William Miller, of the University of New Mexico, and Stephen Rollnick, a faculty professor at the University of Wales College of Medicine, developed a research-based approach to intervention. Their seminal work “Motivational Interviewing: Preparing People to Change Addictive Behavior” acknowledges that not all individuals may be open to the direct tactics employed by the Johnson intervention model.
In their work, Miller and Rollnick propose a methodological approach which looks at stages of change in the patient. In the Motivational Interviewing approach, the professional substance abuse counselor or interventionist work with the addict to gain willingness to change. Inherent to this method is the assumption that the drug addict or alcoholic will desire change when they understand how and why substance abuse is causing them harm. The addiction counselor’s appropriate course of action is therefore determined by the driving motivations behind the addict’s desire to change. Motivational Interviewing suggests that “client resistance is a therapist problem, not the client’s problem”. In this approach, addiction intervention professionals operate corrective courses in their own actions to bring about change in the client.
Personality and Role of the Addiction Interventionist
The addiction interventionist must have a good understanding of addiction and its inner workings. He or she must also possess of sense of leadership. They will comfort the family in their confidence in getting the addict into rehab.
The addiction interventionist must have a sense of integrity and personal value in order to help the family and their loved one properly. The interventionist knows how to match the addict to the proper rehab center for treatment, and guides the family in their choice of program. If a family goes through the trouble and expense of performing an intervention, the effort should result in the addict entering the best possible addiction treatment option for a permanent addiction recovery.
For the family members seeking the services of an interventionist, it is essential to become as educated as possible about addiction and rehabilitation. Drug and alcohol addiction is a complex body of knowledge, and the type of addiction will determine in part the choice of treatment. It’s good to keep in mind that the majority of treatment centers are for-profit programs: they may or may not have the family’s best interest at heart. the interventionist will advise the family in their choice of rehab method and treatment center.
Most interventionists are considered first responders, the first ones to arrive at the scene. Many feel that if they can just get the addict out of danger, they have done their job. And that is true to a degree, but not necessarily in the long run. “Know before you go”: families must have their plan worked out before the start of the intervention. Treatment options must be arranged and planned out prior to performing the intervention.
A Certified Intervention Professional will spend as much time as needed preparing the family for the intervention, selecting the participating members and assigning them roles. The family must have as much knowledge and confidence as possible in the fact that what they are about to do is the right thing to do.