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How to Do an Intervention

How to Do an Intervention

Addiction to drugs and alcohol affect family members as well as the person afflicted with alcohol or drug addiction. It is usually best to have an outside party do the actual intervention but on rare occasions a family member approaches their loved one’s addiction and the ties of a family first intervention becomes a successful intervention.

This article covers how to do an intervention and explain different styles of interventions. The professional term for a person who conducts interventions is an Interventionist.

The Intervention Process

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Drug or alcohol addiction can be tricky. Many think the goal of an intervention is to have someone accept treatment at a treatment facility. Treatment centers address substance abuse, encourage positive change, and detox someone from the alcohol or drugs they are taking.

What is the definition of an Intervention?

According to the Association of Intervention Specialists –

Intervention is an opportunity to interrupt a person’s destructive life patterns. It’s a starting point to change.

There are four known models of intervention, the Johnson Model, Arise Model, Family Systemic Model, and the Love First Model.

What is the Johnson Model?

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Named after Vernon Johnson an Episcopalian priest whose life mission was to help all addicts achieve sobriety. He studied alcoholics and outlined in his book “I’ll quit tomorrow” seven components of the Johnson Method of Intervention.

One – Team:

This team is organized by a counselor that specializes in intervention. It also includes family members, colleagues, loved ones, as well as friends who are trusted.

Two – Planning:

During this stage, the time of the intervention is determined as well as exactly what is going to be said through the letters.

Three Focused on Care:

This component is imperative and must be followed throughout the whole process – from beginning to end. It should NOT be a time where the addict is being yelled at or even condemned.

Four Addiction Only:

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During the process, the only thing that should be talked about is the issue of addiction; nothing else from their past.

Five Evidence:

When the people who are doing the intervention, there must be evidence or proof provided in the letters. All past events should be spoken of and described in a very detail related manner.

Six Primary Goal-Treatment:

As a team, the end result of the intervention must be the agreed-upon goal that the addict must seek out treatment. This should not be explained or discussed as a punishment; rather this is to help improve the addict’s life.

Seven Treatment Options:

Ideally, each intervention will end in the addict seeking out treatment. In order for this to happen, the team must put together three different options when it comes to treatment.

What is the Arise Model?

ARISE is an acronym for “A Relational Intervention Sequence for Engagement” Judith Landau along with other founded this approach. It is the original invitational model. This means during the process the addicted individual is invited to participate.

ARISE believes that the individual and each family member participate to achieve long-term recovery.

What is the Family Systemic Model?

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The Family Systemic Model offers a way and believes that an entire family can truly heal from an addiction. The entire family is involved with the treatment process and the ultimate goal of is the whole family becomes motivated to find help for themselves.

There are four basic points of this method which focus on family members along with the addict.

One – No Hidden Meetings

There are no planned meetings that are hidden from the addict. In fact, when a meeting is set up with a trained interventionist the addict goes to the very first one.

Two – Family Member Open Communication From the Start

During the meetings, all family members and the addict openly discuss the way the addict’s behavior has impacted each one’s lives. It is not a one way conversation – it can go back in forth in a controlled manner.

Three – No Timeline

Instead of having one big meeting for the intervention, there could be several meetings a week and the process can last months at a time.

Four – The Addict and Family Members Make Commitments

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Both the addict and family members commit to entering some type of counseling.

What is the Love First Model?

Founded by Jeff and Debra Jay – The Love First model of intervention has been guiding families and professionals for decades. This model allows you to learn and do an intervention on your own by reading their book or watching their videos. They also offer interventionists that can assist if needed in a formal intervention.

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Their best-selling book, Love First, provides real solutions.

How Do Interventions Work?

Feeling helpless while your loved one struggles with addiction can be frightening and heartbreaking. If your attempts to be helpful to your loved one have been unsuccessful, professional help from a social worker or interventionist may be the answer.

A carefully planned intervention can motivate your loved one to find treatment for substance abuse, compulsive eating, compulsive gambling, prescription drug abuse, or other addictive behaviors.

When a family member or dear friend of an addicted person work together to plan and conduct an intervention, they may start a process that saves the life of their loved one.

What is an Interventionist for Alcoholism and Drug Dependence?

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An Interventionist is usually certified and accredited to engage with someone to help them overcome addiction. Inquiring about their education and experience is important. Good intentions to hold an intervention and get people involved without truly being prepared can cause chaos.

Your loved one’s behavior can be erratic if they have been under the influence of several mood altering substances. To hold an intervention the interventionist must be prepared to handle all scenarios ranging from suicidal tendencies to a flat no I will not get help and swaering to avoid treatment.

Choosing the right person is imperative and understanding the potential benefits as well as the risks will help guide the scenario. Preparing a strategic plan to help change your loved one’s life and options includes the ability to separate the person from the loved one’s drug.

What is an Intervention?

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Every method to intervene is different as described above. Usually an intervention is a meeting carefully pre-planned by family members and friends of an addicted person, designed to confront them about the consequences of their addiction and to ask them to willingly consider treatment centers and support groups as well as agree to a treatment plan.

Other individuals, such as doctors, licensed alcohol, drug, or mental health professionals, a clergy member, or a professional interventionist may help plan and conduct the meeting.

The intervention team explains the treatment plan to the addicted person, letting them know the family will support them throughout recovery. Loved ones also clearly outline and sometimes read aloud what the addicted person should expect if they refuse treatment.

Careful planning is essential for the intervention to succeed. If poorly planned or conducted on the spur of the moment, the intervention may cause the addicted person to feel betrayed and to react defensively. This can make them more resistant to treatment.

Carefully Plan the Intervention

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Consulting with an addiction or mental health specialist or professional interventionist is a valuable starting point. They have conducted interventions and can make the process less overwhelming to plan, and ultimately more successful. With the help of a specialist, the intervention is less likely to erupt into anger, resentment, or other negative emotions.

Work with a professional to plan and attend the intervention. If your loved one has a history of addiction and mental illness, it is helpful to have a professional that can speak to your loved one.

The intervention team is usually comprised of parents, children, and a trusted friend that will be accepting towards the loved one’s drug use. Do not include anyone that sparks anger or is not genuine.

Be consistent in your message that you still love them and believe they can change and that you will continue to support them throughout recovery.

Time, Place, and Follow Up Plan

Select a private, non-threatening location and plan a time when everyone can be there. Based on the intervention model chosen, your loved one may be invited or surprised.

Relapse occurs and many times the addiction has escalated to a point of combative relationships. Talk to your local National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), many times they have a meeting room available.

Treatment Options

Finding the right treatment plan and getting the addicted person to agree to the plan is the goal of intervening. See our blog, ‘How do you get the treatment you need?’ for tips on how to find the treatment center that will best meet your loved one’s needs.

Seek the guidance of an addiction specialist to determine if an inpatient or outpatient program is the best option or if a hospital visit is necessary. If your loved one agrees to treatment, have a plan in place to get them to the facility immediately.

What Happens if the Person Refuses Treatment?

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Consequences are often discussed, however, the term bottom line or boundary is just as meaningful. This keeps things on track and helps loved ones avoid casting blame, accusations, or comments that may lead their loved one to refuse to seek help.

Each person asks themselves how they will continue if your loved one is too caught up in addiction and drugs to say yes today. Suggested boundaries to consider:

  • No longer enable addictive behavior
  • Asking your loved one to move out
  • Refusing financial support
  • Refusing to make excuses to work or school officials for irresponsible behavior

Conducting the Intervention

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Simply invite the addicted person to the pre-selected location where the intervention team has already gathered. When the addicted person arrives, explain this is an intervention conducted by those who care about them.

  • Conduct the meeting as you rehearsed, with each person expressing their concerns. Do not deviate from the statements you prepared during the planning stage. Read from your notes if it helps.
  • If a professional interventionist or addiction specialist is a member of the intervention team, they may lead the meeting, giving each person the chance to speak.
  • Explain the treatment plan to your loved one, letting them know you have thoroughly researched the plan and are confident it is the best option for their recovery. Ask them to agree to the plan. If they refuse, set your boundaries and explain the consequences.
  • If your loved one agrees to treatment or detox, transport them immediately.

According to the Association of Intervention Specialists (AIS), “more than eight in ten individuals choose treatment when family and friends present this life saving gift.” And, of those who refuse to seek treatment initially, about half change their mind in the one to two weeks following the intervention.

Turning Point of Tampa has been offering Detox and Residential Treatment for Addiction, Eating Disorders and Dual Diagnosis in Tampa since 1987. If you need help or know someone who does, please contact our admissions department.

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