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When it comes to substance abuse and addiction, an intervention is an organized attempt to confront someone you love about their use of drugs or alcohol. During an intervention, the people who care about the person struggling with substance abuse come together. In their own words, they share how substance abuse is affecting them.

Below, we talk more about what you should know about an intervention for drugs and alcohol, including how to plan one.

How Does a Drug or Alcohol Intervention Program Work?

If you think that your loved one could need an intervention for drugs and alcohol, know the following:

  • Interventions aren’t easy to plan on your own. You might reach out to a drug or alcohol treatment center. They will often have counselors trained in this area and can work with you to prepare for this confrontation.
  • Successful interventions should always occur in a controlled environment. The idea of a controlled environment is that it’s one where someone is most likely to listen.
  • An intervention can be a surprise to the person who’s being confronted. Still, more modern approaches let members of an intervention team tell the person they will be talking to them about their substance abuse. The person being confronted might get several days’ notice.
  • The intervention process can undoubtedly be effective; there isn’t currently a lot of research that tells us just how well they work.

Types of Interventions

A drug or alcohol intervention program can take different formats. The format you decide on for a planned intervention will depend on individual factors. For example, if you’re working with a counselor, they may recommend a particular approach. Your goals and family dynamics will also become relevant.

Some of the most commonly used models for a planned or formal intervention are:

  • The Johnson Model is the form of intervention most people think of when they hear the term in reference to drug addiction or alcohol abuse. Under this model, the family members will work with a professional interventionist. In this model, the addicted persons don’t know about the intervention ahead of time. 
  • The Invitation Model is also referred to as the Systemic Family Intervention, and it’s about everyone, such as an entire family, going to a workshop. An interventionist leads the workshop, and there’s a discussion about how the disease of addiction affects the family or support network.
  • The Field Model is confrontational (like the Johnson Model), and the person doesn’t know ahead of time. The big difference in this model is that the interventionist leading the process is crisis-trained. Specialists may use this approach if your family thinks your loved one could be a risk to themselves or if they have a co-occurring disorder like bipolar disorder that’s not currently well-controlled.

Signs it’s Time for an Intervention

How do you know whether or not a professional intervention for drugs and alcohol is something you should consider? The following are signs it could be time for a planned intervention:

  • Your loved one is in denial, even though the problem is evident to everyone around them. Some people with addictions don’t realize how their actions affect the people around them, and an intervention can be an opportunity to show them what you’re experiencing.
  • One sign that you might consider an intervention is if your loved one’s behavior is becoming increasingly dangerous. For example, maybe the person is drinking and then driving or has experienced an overdose. As behavior becomes more and more destructive, it’s time that, as a family or support system, you consider a formalized conversation.
  • If your loved one refuses treatment despite a problem, then intervention might help them move in that direction. It’s often the case that effective interventions give the push needed to go to treatment for the substance user. 
  • If someone is dishonest with you or other loved ones, an intervention could be appropriate. Deceptive behavior is one of the hallmarks of substance use disorders. During an intervention, you can let your loved one know that they are dishonest with you, and you realize it. 
  • Some families decide it’s time for an intervention when the health of their loved one is declining.
  • You may decide it’s time for an intervention because of your feelings. You may feel exhausted and as if you physically and mentally can’t go on with things the way they currently are.

What Factors Do You Consider When Doing an Intervention Plan?

While the specifics can vary depending on your situation, the following are some considerations to consider for a plan for evidence-based interventions. 

  • Research treatment options. The fundamental objective of an intervention is to get the substance abuser to go to treatment. It would help if you made it as easy as possible for them to do that. You should research to have detailed options available if they agree to treatment. You might have a treatment center ready so that you can take action right away. You can figure out whether your loved one’s insurance will cover the treatment and anything else you need to know. This can take time, so give yourself at least a few weeks before the intervention to find a residential treatment program. Connecting with addiction professionals can help you tremendously leading up to actual intervention. 
  • Create an intervention team. A professional interventionist should head up your team. If you’ve already found a treatment center, they may have an interventionist who can help you. In addition, your team might include close family members, friends, or the person’s partner. Don’t have people on the treatment team who tend to clash with the person or anyone who themselves has a substance use disorder that’s not managed.
  • Your interventionist will work with you to outline what the consequences are going to be for your loved one. These aren’t punishments, but after an intervention, the person with an addiction has to understand that things will happen if they refuse treatment or help. For example, you might ask them to move out of your home until they’re ready to get treatment.
  • Realize that an intervention isn’t right for every family or every situation. Again, this is why you need to work with a professional intervention specialist if possible. When you confront someone with active drug or alcohol addiction, it’s very easy for the situation to backfire or spiral out of control. That will further alienate and isolate the person with the addiction, and they may feel attacked.

Regardless of the outcome of an intervention, make sure you’re practicing self-care. You might go to therapy independently or participate in a support group for people with loved ones who are addicts, such as Al-Anon or Nar-Anon.

Getting Drug and Alcohol Treatment

An intervention is never an easy process but it may be necessary for your situation. Contact Covenant Hills Treatment by calling 844-268-8412 to learn more about intervention resources and facilities for drug abuse or alcohol addiction.