Guide to Addiction Interventions

Sometimes someone that needs help doesn’t know what steps they need to take to get that help or they are running from the conversation that change needs to happen.

This is when it’s time that you as a family, whether that is blood relatives or just caring loved ones, come together to stage an intervention to save the life of your loved one by offering them the gift that is an opportunity to get better.

What is an Intervention?

An intervention is a process where the family of someone struggling with an addiction or mental health condition works with an interventionist to create a plan to guide them to make a potentially life-saving and changing decision to get help. An intervention has to be planned ahead of time and has many factors involved in making it an effective experience for all those involved. There are several intervention models, a couple of which we will review later in this article. 

Types of Intervention Models

As explained above, there are several different intervention models that serve as the framework for intervening on someone in need of help. All of the below mentioned should occur with the guidance and support of a professional interventionist. For any suggestions or more information regarding what this process looks like please feel free to contact our admissions line. 

The Family Systemic Model

One intervention model is the family systemic model of intervening which seeks to look at the whole family system as needing support and believes that changing the system helps incite and reaffirm change in the individuals. This is a common intervention approach for families deeply invested in someone’s addiction and playing active roles like enabling or having difficulties changing codependent patterns. This is also known as an invitational model because, in contrast to the Johnson Model which is listed below, this school of thought suggests inviting the identified patient or loved one to the whole intervention process including the intervention itself. 

The Johnson Model

Another commonly used intervention model is the surprise approach or Johnson Model of intervention, which believes that the identified patient will be caught off guard which leads to fewer defenses having time to arise as the loved ones participating in the intervention share their letters in advocating for treatment. This was the first intervention approach created by Vernon Johnson and is more patient-centered in its approach versus focusing on the family as a whole. Though the family is still educated and supported in the preparation process prior to the intervention. 

It’s essential to keep in mind that although you and the others participating in the intervention have the best intentions, there will be times when it’s not enough to combat the fierce reality of addiction and the physiological survival instinct acting loudly in the minds of those affected. If the person says no that does not mean the intervention was a failure. The process has been started, a seed of change planted, and more importantly, it was a powerful display of care and love. 

The Crisis Intervention Model

Another type of intervention to consider which isn’t commonly associated with those above is a crisis intervention, which is when someone’s addiction is putting their lives in immediate danger, and the group has to act immediately. This intervention model is commonly used when a person’s risky behavior has increased or has entered into a drug-induced psychosis and needs medical attention sooner rather than later. 

When you sit down with the interventionist, they will work with you and your family to choose the model that will work the best for the needs of your loved one. Since each individual and the details surrounding their struggles and best entrance to recovery may vary greatly it is important to seek professional help and guidance. This may be a scary time and there are professionals ready to support this process in navigating the space of leading with love but also figuring out which boundaries it may be time to start placing and enforcing.

Components of an Intervention

Now that you’ve got some information about interventions and the different types, now let’s look at a general overview of some of the components involved.

Finding an interventionist

If you’ve taken the time to find an interventionist, there are some things to think about before hiring them:

Planning an Intervention

A plan will end up being formulated to answer some of the following questions but is certainty not limited to the following:

They will help create a good team of people for the intervention and strategize how to move forward. The team might include anyone who played a significant role in the person’s life, potentially any clinicians or mental health workers that have been involved in their case, or supportive figures in their life. This may include those most significantly or directly impacted by their unhealthy behaviors. 

Pre-Intervention Meetings

During the pre-intervention meetings, the interventionist will help guide the process in terms of planning a general format for everyone to speak which may include the writing of letters, one is typically more supportive in nature and the other, while still leading with love outlines the boundaries that will be enforced if the loved one declines help.

Education is also a part of the process. Just because you’re staging an intervention for your loved one doesn’t necessarily mean you understand what they’re going through though it may be hard to be on the receiving end of. During this stage in the intervention process, the interventionist will educate you and your family about substance abuse, codependency, other mental health considerations if appropriate, and treatment options. 

You’ll learn about the different effects addiction has on the brain’s chemistry and how this, in turn, affects the rest of the body. Often people don’t know how to handle things they don’t understand, but this is a way to gain a better understanding. 

Even after you get more information about substance abuse, it’s essential to understand that the person you love isn’t themselves when they’re under the influence of drugs. It is really beneficial to separate the addiction from the person.  This is the perfect time to ask questions about addiction that you have and never had the answers to before. It’s better to ask ahead of time than to wait and interrupt the intervention. 

There may be a rehearsal process to further the preparation and better equip all those involved.  This will keep you from being disappointed if your loved one decides they’re not ready to accept the help you’re offering.  If they decide they don’t want help, you need to follow through with the consequences or boundaries you’ve outlined in your impact statement. 

Get Follow Up Help

After the intervention has taken place, it’s time to receive follow-up help. Whether or not your loved one has decided to go to treatment, it is important to take the proper steps to get the help you and your family needs.

Going through this process, or even just having a loved one struggling can be stressful and emotionally exhausting. It is vital that everyone involved also turns to focus on ways they can increase self-care and coping tools to manage anything that might be coming up through this process.

This means attending family meetings to learn ways to cope with your loved one’s addiction or unhealthy behaviors. In these meetings, you’ll have the chance to sit down with your family and identify the reasons you’ve come to this point. As well as discuss issues in a neutral space.

The therapist will act as the mediator of the sessions and ensure everyone is heard without the meeting becoming a case of the blame game.

ReAlign Detox is experienced in working with interventionists and our staff has a thorough understanding of the process. We are happy to speak with anyone on the team to discover how we can take part in your loved one’s recovery and help them begin a new chapter of their lives.