Intervention – Altering The Course Of Addiction With Love

If you or loved one who has ever struggled with an addictive disorder, you know how difficult it can be to admit how much destruction the disease can cause.

Staging an intervention can help a person with addiction to understand that there’s a problem, and that the problem is creating damage.

When interventions are created out of genuine love and concern, they are effective measures in breaking through the resistance to change that people with addiction often feel.

Interventions must be performed with encouragement and support from the ones who stage it.

They give people with addictions real chances at making the necessary corrections to live healthy, fruitful and productive lives.

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What is an Intervention

The Oxford Dictionary defines the word intervene as “to come between so as to prevent or alter a result or course of events.”

An intervention for drug or alcohol addiction is a process which is designed to prevent further damaging consequences from addictive behavior. The event is planned by the support network of a person struggling with addiction, generally without the knowledge of the addicted person.

During the event, members of the support network — often with the help of a professional — make it clear to the person suffering with an addiction that their behavior has created problems in their relationships with others, and has damaged the addicted person’s life.

The support network can consist of close family, friends, coworkers or treatment professionals. During intervention events, the support network makes it clear that there is treatment available, and that the network can help support an addicted person to pursue this treatment.

The support team also makes it clear that if the person with the addiction does not begin treatment, there will be consequences for not doing so.
Intervention Emerald Isle - A group of people hold an intervention for their friend who is addicted to drugs.

The Concept of an Intervention

Many people are familiar with the concept of an intervention, as it has been the subject of a popular television reality show and Has been depicted several times in popular media.

Due in large part to the opioid epidemic that has been a scourge since 2013, addiction treatment (including intervention) has also received increased news coverage and publicity. However, these portrayals of intervention are often exaggerated or romanticized.

Unlike television, people with addictions sometimes refuse help or offer up defenses for their behaviors.

Nevertheless, measures like interventions are often quite successful, and can give people with addictions a chance that they are unable to access otherwise.

Intervention Help Is Available

For some family members and friends, staging an intervention can be uncomfortable. “I don’t know where to start. I don’t know how to plan an intervention for a drug addict.

What if they say no? What if they threaten suicide? What if they get violent?” If you are part of a support network for someone with a drug and alcohol addiction, and you have questions like these, a professional interventionist at Emerald Isle can help guide you to an effective solution.

So what is an interventionist? This term refers to a trained professional — usually a licensed psychologist, therapist, social worker or addiction treatment specialist — who has experience in interventions.

Interventionists specialize in helping families and friends of addicted people to present them with honest, nonjudgmental accounts of the problems that their addictions are causing.

A professional interventionist can help organize the process of intervention, can lead it directly or act as a consultant.

Goals of an Intervention

One of the reasons why an intervention often requires professional support is because it has three different requirements that can conflict with each other. First, an intervention needs to focus on the positive and hopeful aspects of an addicted person’s life, as the team encourages a person to seek treatment.

At the same time, the intervention also must give an honest and candid account of the ways in which addiction has disrupted relationships and has damaged the life of the addicted individual.

Finally, an intervention has to describe a firm boundary. It must detail the potential consequences of not seeking treatment and must follow through with those consequences if the intervention is to be effective. A successful intervention must integrate all three of these characteristics.

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Do Interventions Work

You now know that interventions are designed to encourage a person with addiction to seek recovery. But what does science say about these measures? Do interventions work?

The most well-studied intervention is called a brief intervention. It is often performed by medical professionals during hospitalizations or office visits.

For example, if an individual is hospitalized after an automobile collision which occurred due to the individual’s drinking, the treating emergency room physician can state “I’m concerned about your level of drinking.

It seems to have created major impacts on your personal health and has endanger the health of others.” It rarely ever consists of a “dramatic showdown”; rather, the professional can demonstrate to the person with addiction that their substance use disorder is causing real damage and that seeking treatment is necessary.

A recent study of implications of SAMHSA’s SBIRT has shown the effectiveness of this particular approach in getting people to seek treatment.

The Johnson Model

The most well-known type of intervention (and the one you’re most likely to think of when you imagine what an intervention looks like) is called the Johnson Model, named for an Episcopal priest Vernon Johnson, who himself was in recovery for an alcohol use disorder.

This model has been described by the American Psychological Association and by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in detail.

This model utilizes seven components and describes how to hold an intervention:

Form a Team

A number of close family members, friends or coworkers can join our professional interventionist in confronting the person with an addiction. This number should be kept relatively small to avoid overwhelming, intimidating or coercing the addicted individual.

Create a Plan

Our intervention team should agree on a time and place for the event. You will also need to agree on the content, rehearse it repeatedly, and be ready for several different scenarios. The team will need to write letters about the consequences that they see in the addicted person, as well as the damage they have suffered themselves.

Focus on Care

The team will need to reiterate their love for the person undergoing the intervention. The conductors must avoid using terms like “addict”, “alcoholic”, “junkie” or other demeaning terms. Yelling and condemnation must be avoided, since they create the shame that tends to fuel addictions. Members of the team must be able to exert control over their emotions.

The team can accomplish this by the use of neutral terms and by being empathetic: imagining what they might want to hear if they were in the position of the addicted person.
Intervention Emerald Isle - A father sits across from his daughter and holds an intervention for her who is struggling with alcoholism.

Limit Discussion to Addiction

In an intervention process, nothing other than the addiction should be the focus of discussion. It may be tempting, but this will not be the time to litigate any other past problems.

Show Evidence

Team members must show that the addiction has caused damage, and they must be willing to speak about such damage. This is done by reading a detailed, pre-written letter out loud in front of the individual with the addiction.

Keep Focus on Treatment

The intervention team must agree that the goal of the intervention is to get the addicted individual to seek treatment. It is not a discussion intended to create punishment. However, it is important that team members are able to give a consistent message about the consequences of not seeking treatment and stick to those consequences.

Provide Options

The team can provide at least three options for the individual suffering with addiction and can describe how they will support that individual in each scenario.

When thoughtfully performed out of love and honesty, interventions are effective ways of communicating with an individual about the impact of their addiction.

These measures can help an addicted person admit that their disease has gotten out of control and can guide them to get the help they need. It will allow them realize that they have support and that they do not have to face the problem alone.

It can give them a sense of responsibility that they can manage, and potential rewards of redemption if they do so.

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Intervention with Emerald Isle Health

If you have a loved one who is in need of intervention, we can be of help. We have seen and treated many individuals who had difficulty accepting the damage that their addiction created.

With respect, honesty and support, we can help a person with an addiction find treatment that is right for them and give them a fair shot at complete recovery.

Give us a call today.