Addictions affect not only the addicted person, but also the person’s loved ones. An intervention is a carefully planned process in which friends and family talk about their experience with the addicted person, and try to motivate the person to get help. Interventions also show people who are struggling that they have support.
In this article, we will cover:
-What is an intervention?
-How do you stage an intervention?
-Types of interventions
-Should you use an interventionist?
What is an Intervention?
An intervention is a structured meeting in which an addicted person’s friends and family help them realize they have an addiction and encourage them to accept treatment. People in active addiction may be in denial. Learning about the effect their addiction has on those around them may help them come to terms with it.
An intervention may be planned by friends and family in consultation with a licensed alcohol or drug counselor, or it may be led by an interventionist. It is important to be detailed in your planning beforehand and, if possible, to contact a professional who understands addiction.
It is also important to remember that the intervention should come from a place of love and support, not blame.
How Do You Stage an Intervention?
Let’s say Trevor has an alcohol abuse disorder, but won’t accept or admit it. In planning to confront Trevor, people close to him will:
-Research in advance
Planning and researching are important parts of staging an intervention.
Trevor’s friends and family will decide whether they want to use an interventionist. If they decide to go this route, they will look up interventionists and find the best fit. They’ll do research on alcohol abuse disorder, to learn more about the specific addiction that Trevor is going through. Then they will research treatment programs, so that they can be prepared with options. This should be helpful to have already in hand during the intervention, when emotions may run high.
-Form the intervention group
Taking the time to think of who would be best to include is crucial. When planning Trevor’s intervention, his loved ones will make sure not to invite anyone who is triggering to Trevor, who Trevor has had issues with in the past, or who may steer things off course. Instead, his friends and family will reach out to people who care about him, who are affected by his drinking, and who will best serve the purpose of helping him get treatment.
-Plan what they will say
As mentioned, interventions can be a time of heightened emotion. It would be helpful for each person taking part in Trevor’s to plan what they will say ahead of time. They can’t predict how Trevor will respond, but they can provide themselves with a road map to use during this difficult conversation.
Trevor’s loved ones should make sure not to shame, guilt, coerce or ambush him. These methods are counterintuitive; they could make Trevor feel defensive, or push him further into substance use or other destructive behaviors.
If any of Trevor’s friends or family predict they might get angry during the intervention, they should plan some methods of dealing with these feelings. The intervention should be about showing care, concern and support for Trevor. His loved ones are staging this intervention because they want to see him get better and thrive.
-Come up with a plan of action
While the intervention is not a space for shaming the addicted person or placing blame, friends and family should decide what action they will take if the person refuses treatment. Loved ones plan to take these actions in order to prevent enabling behavior and set boundaries.
For instance, if Trevor says he will not accept treatment, his roommate may ask him to move out. The people taking part should not choose any plan that they don’t think they’ll be able to carry out. Trevor’s loved ones should be forthright about what they will do, and if Trevor doesn’t accept treatment, they should follow through.
If the intervention goes well and Trevor accepts treatment, Trevor’s family and friends can provide support to help prevent relapse. This may involve changes in their living situation to help provide an environment conducive to Trevor’s long-term recovery. This may also involve Trevor’s loved ones attending their own recovery support, or offering to attend therapy with him.
Types of Interventions
A brief intervention is a one-on-one meeting between a person struggling with addiction and a counselor or medical professional. Some examples of what this might look like are:
-a meeting between a student and a school counselor, if the student is suspected of abusing alcohol or substances
-a brief intervention at the doctor’s office, if an exam reveals substance abuse related health issues
-an intervention in the hospital, especially after a person has been admitted for an overdose
The Johnson Model
This is the most common type of intervention, and the form with which most people are familiar. If Trevor’s family chose this route, his loved ones would plan a time to confront him about his addiction without letting him know. They would outline how his addiction has affected them, and what he can do to get help.
ARISE is a less confrontational approach, where the addicted person is informed beforehand. This approach also emphasizes allowing family members to be active participants in the person’s recovery. There are three levels to an ARISE intervention:
-Level I is when a member of the intervention team contacts an interventionist. The intervention specialist helps organize an initial meeting between members of the intervention network. A key difference between this type of intervention and the Johnson Model is that the addicted person is encouraged beforehand to join the initial meeting; it is intended not to be a surprise or a secret.
-Level II is the interventions themselves; in ARISE, there can be more than one. These interventions, like other types, are designed to help the person who is struggling with addiction get treatment.
-Level III is considered a last resort, if levels I and II do not lead to the person seeking treatment. During Level III, members of the intervention network let the addicted person know the actions they will take if the person does not enter treatment.
This approach can be used in conjunction with any other type of intervention; the purpose is to set measurable goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Specific. It can be used as a program evaluation for community intervention programs, or by members of an intervention group as a follow-up.
Should You Use a Professional Interventionist?
An intervention professional may be present at the time of the intervention to help lead the discussion, or the interventionist can provide counseling beforehand.
Trevor’s loved ones might decide that bringing in an outside person is helpful, as they are unable to be objective or cope with their own feelings. Trevor’s family might also consider the following questions, as a yes answer would mean it was particularly important to seek out a professional interventionist:
-Does Trevor have a serious, untreated mental health disorder, such as schizophrenia?
-Does he have a history of violence or abusive behavior?
-Has Trevor attempted or spoken of suicide, or engaged in other self-harming behaviors?
-Does Trevor abuse multiple substances?
So You Want to Stage an Intervention. What’s Next?
An intervention is an important step towards helping your loved one get into treatment. Remember that you are doing this out of support, not as a punishment. Successful interventions are about what is best for the person who is struggling with addiction.
Take some time to research and plan, to figure out which type of intervention will work best. Decide whether you are going to seek professional guidance.
At Amatus Recovery Centers, we can help connect you to the right interventionist. We will gather information about your specific situation, and find someone who can guide your intervention experience to help create the best possible outcome. At our treatment centers across the country, we also provide individualized addiction recovery plans, to help your loved one when they are ready to enter treatment.