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Drug Intervention Strategies

There are many addiction intervention services and strategies available when helping a loved one overcome their drug or alcohol abuse or dependence. Here is how to make sure your intervention is successful, effective, and will not sacrifice your relationship with the targeted person.

What Is An Intervention?
An intervention is a professionally directed education process resulting in a face-to-face meeting with the friends, family, and colleagues of an addict, and the individual facing drug or alcohol problems. The aim of the intervention is to encourage the addicted individual to admit their problem in order to move forward with treatment.

In an intervention, each member of the gathered group shares the ways in which they have been hurt by the individual’s addiction, requests that the addicted individual seek treatment, and outlines the consequences for not seeking treatment. People struggling with addiction often are in denial about their situation and therefore do not seek treatment. They may not realize the negative effects their behaviour is having on the people in their life, or the negative effects their behaviour is having on themselves. The goal of the intervention, therefore, is to bring the addict to a point of realization and offer a structured opportunity to accept help before the situation worsens.

Interventions are often overseen by a mental health professional or interventionist who directs the intervention, particularly if the addicted individual has a history of serious mental illness or violence. An interventionist will take into account the personal circumstances surrounding the drug use, suggest the best approach for the intervention, and provide guidance of what type of treatment should be sought following the intervention. When the appropriate steps are taken and a certified interventionist is involved, the vast majority of people make a commitment to seek treatment.

How To Make An Intervention More Effective
While you cannot force someone to seek help if they do not want to, here are some strategies to help improve your chances of success:

1. Do not schedule the intervention at a time when the addict will have high levels of stress. If the addict has to go to work, has just gone through a breakup, or is otherwise stressed, they will have trouble listening to the group.

2. The goal of the intervention is not to shame or yell at the addict. Rather, you want to share your concerns in a constructive way. The addict should not come away from the intervention feeling like a bad person. To combat this, ensure you make a clear distinction between the person and their addiction.

3. Be as specific as possible when discussing the ways the addicted individual’s behaviour has affected you. Do not generalize or make sweeping statements, as this can lead the addict to feeling attacked. Make notes of specific examples to bring up during the intervention and explain why those examples are important.

4. Plan a specific treatment strategy. Requesting that the addicted person seek treatment can be overwhelming if you do not already have something lined up. Ensure the addict’s insurance will pay for the program and that the program has space for the addict. You also want to make sure that the program you choose aligns with the addict’s values and conceptualization of the world.

5. Follow through on any outlined consequences. An intervention is a last resort, so you need to ensure you are emotionally prepared to fundamentally change your relationship with the addict after the intervention is over and follow through on the promises you have made.

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