Battling addiction and ready for treatment?
How to Stage a Drug Abuse Intervention
While a drug abuse intervention may sound straightforward on paper, staging one can feel daunting and complicated.
Because drug addiction interventions are most successful when carefully planned processes, it’s important to have friends and family members on board and to collaborate with a doctor, licensed drug counselor, or professional interventionist.
1. Seek Help From a Professional Interventionist
Initiating a substance abuse intervention alone isn’t recommended, especially if the person with the drug problem has a complex, long-term substance use disorder.
While some mild situations may succeed with a brief intervention, these cases are in the minority.
Using evidence-based techniques, you can avoid the common pitfalls or conflicts in DIY interventions by contacting a licensed addiction intervention professional. A professional interventionist can ensure each stage of the intervention process is productive and stays on track.
2. Gather Loved Ones for an Intervention Team
The types of friends and family you gather for your intervention team are critical. Keeping the intervention on-topic by focusing on facts and solutions is essential, so be cautious about including group members that are highly emotional and reactive.
The goal is to show the addict they are loved and that you only want the best for their health and well-being. So choose people who can reflect that sentiment.
3. Make Your Drug Intervention Plan
Your drug intervention plan should include the basics: day, time, location, and guest list. The plan should also include the chosen treatment plan and layout consequences should the addict not accept treatment.
A professional interventionist can help you make an outline and walk you through how the process will go, ensuring everyone feels comfortable with each step.
4. Rehearse the Drug Intervention
In many cases, professional interventionists will rehearse the intervention to prepare for the intense moments and feelings all members of the intervention will likely share.
By rehearsing beforehand, members of the intervention team can fine-tune what they plan to say and dispel some nervousness before the actual intervention occurs. The interventionist may also use the rehearsal to give feedback and adjust the intervention outline.
5. Be Ready With Resources
The intervention should end with a clear path to addiction treatment. Ideally, you should choose the treatment facility ahead of time so the addict can leave straight from the intervention to an addiction treatment center.
Not all addicts need inpatient treatment; some people do better with intensive outpatient programs. Your interventionist or doctor can help you determine what treatment program is best depending on the type of substance abuse problem and existing mental illness concerns.
When Is It Time to Intervene?
Determining when an intervention is necessary can be difficult, especially if your loved one denies that their drug dependence exists or hides their substance misuse well.
While not an exhaustive list, there are some signs to look for if you suspect your loved one has a drug use issue.
Signs an intervention may be necessary due to drug use include:
- Hiding the use and effect of drugs or alcohol
- Continuing substance abuse despite the negative consequences
- Intense cravings for the substance
- Bloodshot eyes, bad breath, shakes or tremors, frequent bloody noses, or weight loss or gain
- Bad skin, hair, teeth, and nails
- Slurred speech or rapid rambling
- Abrupt changes in personality
- Struggling with limits or using the substance in moderation
- Being unable to stop using the substance
- Borrowing or stealing money to purchase the substance
- Sudden aggressive behavior, irritability, and depression
Post-Intervention: What Happens Afterward?
If the intervention is successful and the subject agrees to the terms of the intervention, treatment should begin. Treatment may look different for each person, depending on the substance, the length of drug abuse, and any mental health conditions that also exist.
Drug Abuse Treatment Options
Common treatments include inpatient, intensive outpatient program (IOP), partial hospitalization program (PHP), medication-assisted treatment, medical detox, and therapy. Inpatient treatment is often considered the most involved option, including a residential stay at the treatment facility.
On the other hand, intensive outpatient and partial hospitalization don’t include a residential stay but still require the addict to spend several hours per week at the treatment facility. Each treatment type has pros and cons you should consider before beginning the intervention.
Regardless of the treatment type chosen, all rehab options will include therapy.
Common therapies offered in addiction treatment programs include:
- Group Therapy
- Family Therapy
- Couples Therapy
What If a Drug Intervention Doesn’t Work?
Unfortunately, interventions don’t always succeed. There are countless reasons why an addict may reject help or react poorly to an intervention. However, it’s essential to uphold statements and consequences said during the intervention.
Consequences are put into place to convince the addict to accept help, so sticking to your word is the best thing you can do in the aftermath. Follow up with your interventionist on specific steps to take next, as they will be intimately familiar with the case.
Types of Interventions
Many intervention types have been developed over the years, each method with a specific focus in mind. Not all cases of addiction need huge interventions; sometimes, a simple conversation is all that’s required.
In other cases, the situation is so dire that crisis intervention is needed for the person’s short-term safety.
Here are the main types of interventions you’ll commonly see:
- Simple/Brief Intervention: simple, one-on-one interventions that can be carried out alone or with the aid of a professional interventionist.
- Formal Intervention: planned meetings with all concerned loved ones in a calm setting, each playing a role focused on confronting the loved one’s addiction.
- Family System Intervention: an intervention where the whole family participates in the intervention and treatment, focusing on the entire family rather than just the addicted individual.
- Crisis Intervention: a type of intervention that occurs in response to sudden self-destructive behavior or a mental health crisis, providing short-term relief and safety for that person.
- Johnson Model: a type of intervention model that focuses on seven distinct elements, which include:
- Intervention Team
- Notes and Proof
- Focus on Addiction Only
- Therapy as the Principal Intention
- Options for Treatment
Benefits of Hiring a Drug Intervention Specialist
Bringing a trained drug intervention specialist to the situation provides many benefits that you may overlook. While the instinct may be to keep someone’s addiction private, handling an intervention alone can lower the chances of success.
The benefits of working with a professional interventionist include:
- Keeping the intervention on track and productive
- Identifying and ending enabling behavior from all parties involved
- Stopping conflicts before they heat up
- Getting help for the whole family, not just the addict
- Helping loved ones stay firm on boundaries and consequences
- Guiding you through finding and arranging treatment options
Find a Drug Interventionist
If you need the help of a trained drug interventionist, there are several options available. The easiest option for finding an interventionist is through a mental healthcare provider, addiction doctor, treatment provider, or addiction recovery services.
If you don’t have an addiction counselor or treatment center, you can locate one through SAMHSA’s online treatment locator or by calling 1-800-662-4357. You can also find an interventionist through the Association of Intervention Specialists.
Drug Intervention FAQs
What is the most successful type of drug intervention?
While the Johnson Model is the most popular method of drug or alcohol intervention, other models may be more successful depending on several factors. Because people may respond differently to certain approaches, it’s hard to say which is the best.
When working with a professional interventionist, they can help you determine what approach may best suit your loved one.
What happens if a drug intervention doesn’t work?
Ensure you and your intervention team stay firm on the statements and consequences laid out during the intervention.
Even if the addict rejects help, that doesn’t mean you’ve failed or that they will never accept help in the future. Luckily, a trained interventionist can guide you through the next steps specific to your case.
Do drug interventions work?
Often, when executed correctly, interventions succeed. Interventions conducted without a professional tend to fail more often, so working with a trained interventionist will increase the likelihood of success.
However, it’s important to manage your expectations for the intervention and follow the lead of an interventionist. They can best advise you on the next steps if things are unplanned.
How much do drug interventions cost?
Intervention costs range from $2,500 to $10,000, depending on the services offered and the individual’s intervention experience.