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Addiction Intervention

Often when people are suffering from addiction, they need to hit rock bottom before they are willing to get help.

Rock bottom is a severe enough problem in any area of an addict’s life (physical health, mental health, and relationally) in which they can no longer deny they have a problem and feel the need to seek help.

While rock bottom is often necessary, those who are addicted or dependent on substances need to be convinced or coaxed into admitting their struggles and their need for support.

Interventions are very controlled confrontations where loved ones, with or without the guidance of a professional, seek to end a pattern of denial and persuade an addict to seek the help they need.

Hosting an intervention, when it comes from a place of care and concern, can be one of the best things to happen to an addict in the grand scheme. It has often been deemed as the ‘wake-up call’ they needed, and many of our recovered patients said they owe their current health and optimism to interventions hosted by family and loved ones.

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Why is Addiction Intervention Needed?

When someone is suffering from an addiction, they usually live in a state of denial. This denial could be because they have actually convinced themselves that they do not have a problem, or it could be the facade that they wear to refrain from receiving help from others.

Often for addicts, denial feels safe because giving up the substance they are addicted too is scary and may even seem impossible. That is why so many people have to hit rock bottom before they get help.

The fear of not recovering from addiction has to become as great or greater than the fear of giving up the substance. The hope is that by the end of an intervention, someone will have let go of their denial and begin to see that they need help or else they will inevitably hit rock bottom.

Intervention is done with the intention of seeking help for someone who is struggling with addiction before they hit rock bottom, or before their behaviour reaps serious repercussions that could damage or even end their life.

How Do You Safely Hold an Intervention?

If an intervention goes wrong, it may fail or make a situation worse. The addict may become angry, stubborn, and not accept any help. Because of this, you must do an intervention in a safe way.

The most important part of staging an intervention safely/properly is by reaching out to a specialist who are trained to help break through addiction and denial.

An intervention specialist will then help you plan out the intervention. They will work with you to figure out how many people should be involved and who those people should be.

It is important that the people chosen will be able to have influence over the person with the addiction and handle any intense conversation or situation that arises during the intervention.

Beyond this, the specialists will help you pick a place for the intervention to take place (it should be familiar, non-threatening territory) and rehearse what you are going to say. An intervention is not a moment to ‘wing it.’

Below are 10 simple steps to holding an intervention with optimum results and zero damage to the individual in question:

Chose a team of loved and trusted family members or friends, or people with meaningful relationships with the one suffering.
A time when the individual is sober & cannot hide behind a haze of drugs is best. Alternatively, after a major substance-related event has occurred.
A safe, neutral environment is best. Too public may increase anxiety or aversion, but at home, there are rooms where the individual can hide or run away.

The person with the closest relationship to the sufferer should go first. The person who can implement change should go last.

Rehearsing the order can help put team members at ease and roleplay & ugly reactions or responses.

Take time to write & memorize the script. Do not be tempted to ad lib. The script is there for a reason.

Make sure you exhibit open and warm body language. Unfold your arms & legs, unclench fists, turn your shoulders towards the person you’re addressing.

Strictly avoid a rising temper, frustration, or negative feelings or tones. If they become angry, don’t fight fire with fire.

Be prepared and flexible. The plan & script may not play out how you pre-empted. Keep calm & stick together.

Some may see the light after one conversation, others may become more violent or fall deeper into their addiction. If this happens, seek expert help and try again.

When is an Intervention Necessary?

Here are some of the biggest signs someone in your life may be struggling with addiction and in need of help:

  • Secretive behaviour
  • Borrowing money
  • Aggressive behaviour
  • Worsening physical appearance
  • Worsening hygiene
  • Lack of energy
  • Lack of motivation
  • Problems at work/school
  • Health issues
  • Mental health issues
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders

family intervention

What Happens During an Intervention?

An intervention is a meeting between an addict and a group of family and friends. Each person should take turns calmly sharing concerns they have for the person or how the person’s addiction is affecting them personally.

This is a safe place for everyone to share what they are feeling or what they are frustrated with calmly and safely.

An intervention typically starts with the team who are intervening meeting at a pre-arranged destination long enough to practice and perform a few runs of the proceedings.

It is wise to practice emotionally calming and techniques and to remember the end goal: helping the addict towards recovery by opening them up to receiving treatment.

When the person suffering from addiction arrives, each team member takes turns reading their pre-written script in succession. Be prepared for a variety of responses from the addict, including screaming, shouting, crying, violent behaviour, or running away.

It is important to remember that any reaction is natural, as you are threatening an existing pattern of living that the addict has adopted for a long period of time. You are threatening their safety blanket and their way of life.

Remaining calm and patient is vital, and understanding that it is not the addict’s fault is the key. It is best to remind the person suffering from addiction that they are loved, worthy of recovery, and have multiple support systems behind them.

If you have chosen to include an interventionist, this is when they will discuss treatment options and the steps moving forward. If any conflicts or issues arise, the trained interventionist will tackle these accordingly while the rest of the group should continue remaining calm, open and with compassion and empathy towards the addict.

Pending on the response of the individual, the next steps for the future will now be put in place. If you feel their addiction is of an immediate threat to their life and wellbeing, the addict can even be transported to the rehabilitation centre immediately.

If more time is needed or allowed, the intervention team is now safe to return the addict home and start implementing necessary actions. The treatment centre should be notified, giving them a head-start and synopsis of how the intervention went in order for them to tailor and personalize the treatment program.

What are the Different Types of Intervention?

Below, we list the different types of addiction intervention:

  • Crisis Intervention: This type of intervention is usually done by police of medical professionals to offer support to people who are less likely to be treated and receive support
  • Brief Intervention: This is a short one-on-one meeting between a person struggling with addiction and a professional. Usually, this happens after someone is suspected of abusing substances by a professional or after an overdose
  • The Johnson Model: This is the most common form. It is when one or more caregivers plan an intervention to convince the person to get into rehab.
  • ARISE: This is a less confrontational plan, but still uses many techniques used in the Johnson Model. This method is based on no surprises, no secrets, no coercion, and absolute respect and love
  • SMART: Self-Management and Recovery Training establishes clear, measurable & achievable goals – it is a treatment of choice
  • Family Systemic Intervention: This is not an event, but more of a process where a therapist leads the entire family into a discussion about how addiction is affecting their family unit, and helps sets family recovery goals

Who Benefits from Addiction Interventions?

Both the addict and the family and friends of the addict benefit from an intervention. The addict benefits if they are able to let go of denial and begin to seek help. Intervention can protect them from more severe consequences and from hitting rock bottom.

Interventions, although some individuals at first see their loved ones being ‘too nosy’ or ‘too worried,’ ultimately reminds the addict that they are loved and supported.

While holding an intervention can initially be painful, it can save the entire family, friends’ network and community from witnessing the damaging effects of substance abuse on a loved one.

Prevention is better than cure in any situation and in most intervention cases, stepping into an uncomfortable situation before it’s too late is drastically better in the long run than living with unthinkable consequences such as imprisonment, illness or even fatality.

An intervention also gives the family and friends a place to vent their feelings and frustration. It also allows them to let go of any guilt because they have then tried to help in every way they can.

Interventions can be cathartic for the addict’s loved ones and can even set their own healing process into motion. It allows them to make sense of their emotions towards the addict and their dependency and often unites families or groups together in a shared positive motive.

intervention support

What are the Outcomes of an Intervention?

There are two main outcomes of an intervention:

The first is the one everyone hopes for. The addict sees the ways their behaviour is hurting themselves and those around them and tries to seek help. They listen to the fears and reasonings of their family and friends and take on board their concerns.

This leads to either inpatient or outpatient rehab, counselling or other talking therapies, and even a detoxification process depending on the type and severity of the addiction.

The second outcome, however, can happen if the addict is not ready to get help after an intervention. They continue to stay in denial, fail to see how their negative behaviour is impacting others, and refuse to try recovering from their addiction.

In this instance, it is important to continue emphasizing the risks associated with their addiction in a calm, sympathetic and rational manner. It is important to follow through with consequences you warned of (i.e. refusing to pay their bills or groceries if they continued to abuse their substance.)

You should not in any way feel guilty, ashamed or disappointed in yourself for failing to open your loved one’s eyes to the truth: ultimately, recovery is their decision.

Consider contacting an intervention specialist who has been trained and has experience in dealing with difficult confrontations during or after a failed intervention. This will take the pressure and worry off your shoulders – you have already tried, and now you are passing the responsibility to an expert.

Do not lose hope in this situation – once enough time has passed, you and your loved ones will be ready to hold another intervention with a different approach and with a more subjective style tailored towards the individual in question.

What Happens After An Intervention?

After an intervention, it is important that a person seeks immediate treatment. Usually, this will happen at a treatment centre to help the person detox from whatever substance they have grown dependent on.

If immediate treatment does not take place, often the positive results of the intervention will wear off, and the person will go back into denial.

If you have any more questions about how to have an intervention, whether or not you need to hold one, or what to do after the intervention, do not hesitate to reach out.

What Is an Addiction Intervention?

An intervention is when family, friends or colleagues intercede in the life of someone who is struggling with an addiction. Intervention is all about interjecting with positivity, pragmatism and caution – it is not a free pass to scythe or judge someone.

An intervention is aimed at changing the person’s behaviour before it is too late. They carefully challenge the individual on their current actions, and try to help enable them to alter their lives and habits. In most cases, interventions are staged and planned out meetings.

A number of individuals (or sometimes just two) peacefully confront the addicted person with the hope of enabling them to see the light. These can sometimes be difficult and emotional, and should never put the addicted person or any of the intervening persons in danger. This is why professional interventionists are sometimes hired to lead the discussions.

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When Is Addiction Intervention Needed?

There are many indicators that a person requires an intervention such as:

  • Their physical health has deteriorated due to their addiction
  • Severe consequences such as losing their job, driving licence, or custody of children
  • They are a danger to themselves or others while intoxicated
  • Displaying violent, volatile or aggressive behaviour
  • Anxiety, depression, suicidal intent or self-harm

Why Would Someone Hold an Addiction Intervention?

Denial and addiction go hand-in-hand. Those who are addicted are simply blind to the troubles they are causing themselves and others. They are either oblivious to the fact their addiction could ruin their lives – or they are that far into the depths of addiction, they do not care about the outcome. This is why interventions are focal in recovery – they offer outside, objective help to an otherwise hopeless situation.

The family and friends of loved ones may hold an intervention if they feel like they have exhausted all options. For example, they could have already asked them to stop, refused to stop lending them money or ‘bailing them out’ of situations. They could have asked someone senior to speak to them, like a respected family figure or employer, but with no avail. Interventions are commonly the ‘last resort’ when people feel they have no other choice.

One of the reasons interventions are considered helpful is the power in numbers. Having a variety of family members and friends expressing their love and concern for someone who is suffering can be a powerful and effective thing. The individual will follow advice and seek help more so than if they were being screamed or shouted at by a ‘bad figure.’

What Type of Addictions Require Intervention?

Intervention in popular culture often tackles two problems: illicit drug addictions, or alcoholism. But there are many more addictions – both substance-based and behavioural – that require interventions. These include:

  • Alcoholism
  • Prescription drug abuse
  • Drug abuse
  • Compulsive eating
  • Compulsive gambling
  • Shopping addiction
  • Eating disorders
  • Suicidal ideation

What Are the Main Stages of An Addiction Intervention?

Interventions are well-thought of, highly structured occurrences that need to follow a certain structure. As a result, below we have listed the main three stages of intervention:

The first stage is before the intervention, when the family or friends of the addicted person meet with an interventionist or counsellor.

This is when the addicted person's behaviours, history and special circumstances are discussed. The interventionist will take note of the following issues:

  • History of addiction
  • The nature of the addiction (What type of substance, how much they consume)
  • If the addicted person can become temperamental or aggressive when confronted
  • Any health concerns relating to, or not relating to addiction
  • The relationship of each attendee to the addicted person
  • Whether there are any co-occurring disorders
  • Any ongoing or previous legal issues or convictions

As discussed above, the meeting itself is conducted by a leader who oversees each other attendee - this is usually an interventionist or counsellor. Each person will take turns reading out their letters, explaining that they love and care for the addicted person, but that their behaviours are causing too much upset for themselves and others for it to continue.

After each person has expressed their feelings, the interventionist or leader will then go on to discuss treatment options. Residential treatment is often the most common option as it offers a safe, secure and trigger-free environment for recovery.

The specialist will go through the rehab process with the individual, and will convey the benefits of seeking treatment. It is vital to already have a few options lined up, so the addicted person can immediately choose rather than agreeing in the moment and then declining at a later date.

At ADT Healthcare, we have a team of skilled interventionists, counsellors and addiction experts to see you through every step. Intervention is the first positive step towards recovery - but it is a long road. However, it is a milestone, especially if the individual takes heed and attends a treatment facility.

After an intervention, the interventionist will recap all of the points discussed during the meeting and will create a rehab plan tailored towards that individual. Successful interventions result in the addicted person agreeing to attend a rehab programme.

In this instance, the leader of the intervention will contact that facility and arrange for the addicted person to attend immediately. Unsuccessful interventions do happen, and if one occurs, it is vital to have a plan in place as to not exacerbate an already bad situation.

Do Interventions Really Work?

How effective are interventions? Is it worth it? Akin to anything important in life: there is no certain answer. Those wondering whether an intervention is worth it should consider if the intensity of the addiction requires one. When our clients have asked us, we always say addiction intervention is worth it if it is done correctly.

Each case is different: so are the desired outcomes. Situations where the addicted person does not immediately agree to enter rehab are not ultimate failures. It may have brought the family closer together, or the individual may have finally listened to their loved one’s concerns.

Interventions that go ‘wrong’ may ultimately have not saved the addicted person, but may have put all those involved in a safer position. Failed interventions may not always fall on deaf ears: it may take a few days or weeks for the person to come round after the voices and feelings of their nearest and dearest ruminate in their mind.

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group intervention

How to Stage an Intervention: 10 Helpful Tips?

Staging an addiction intervention can be a difficult feat, and with lots of advice from addiction centres and specialist, it can be even more difficult to know if you’re doing it correctly. Following these top 10 tips will ensure the most effective approach to any intervention:

  • Pick your team carefully: ensure everyone who is intervening has a healthy relationship with the addicted person
  • The right time is key: being sober is crucial for the addicted person to really take in what you are saying
  • Find a neutral, formal setting: home can be too familiar, but a public place may be too intimidating or open. An office, church or therapist’s lounge is a good option
  • Think about the order of speakers: the person with the closest relationship to the addicted person should go first. They may be tired of hearing certain lectures from the same people over and over
  • Remember to rehearse: emotions can be volatile during interventions, resulting in muddled words or forgetting the script. Rehearsals different reactions and scenarios is also a sure way of preparing for unsuccessful interventions
  • Stay on script: Practicing reading your letter will instil confidence to the intervention team. Do not be tempted to ‘ad lib’ as this may result in you saying something sensitive or emotionally charged
  • Body language speaks volumes: eye contact, a relaxed posture, and uncrossed arms is vital. Keep your body pointing towards the addicted person to portray a warm and positive approach
  • Learn to control your emotions: anger, frustration or violence are not to be tolerated during interventions. Avoid starting an argument, and avoid your desire to blame or counter-attack if the person becomes defensive
  • Have a plan B: it’s a fact that interventions sometimes go wrong. Having a back-up plan helps you navigate the situation if the addicted person responds unpredictably
  • Try again if you fail: the desire to see immediate action is tantamount. But this isn’t always possible. Refusing to give up is also one of the key elements to addiction intervention

Intervention & Language

Addiction interventions are primarily about communicating. From one loved one to another, just how the individual’s addiction is affecting them, why, and the consequences of this. While it’s important for both parties to feel like they have a voice and opinion, creating a safe and trusted space that enables people to talk freely but with compassion is key.

Because of this, we have dedicated a section to addiction interventions and language. This refers to the type of verbal and physical language you convey during the meeting. Or, in other words, the ‘vibe’ you are giving off to the person struggling. Interventions will most certainly backfire if the tone or body language is in any way judgemental, angry, or negative in any other form.

How Do I Write an Intervention Letter?

Going into an addiction intervention without having planned what you’re going to say to your loved one is a recipe for trouble. This is why you should take the time to write an addiction intervention letter beforehand. The letter should contain everything you wish to say to them. But it is sometimes difficult to do this kindly due to the wealth of negative emotions addiction incurs.

Firstly, your letter relies heavily on your ability to communicate just how much you want your loved one to overcome their addiction. It should depict the severity of their substance abuse. You should demonstrate how you are concerned it will lead them to their own demise. The letter should also highlight (sensitively) how their behaviour is affecting others.

Clear intent that you want to continue to support them and be in their lives throughout their recovery is important. So too is your emphasis that if they do not participate in an addiction treatment programme, you will have no choice but to eliminate them from your life.

The letter should take a serious and clear tone, but it should also constantly remind the addicted person that this severity is coming from a place of love and concern. In no way should this letter express shame, judgement, or hatred towards them or their addiction.
intervention language

What to Say During an Intervention?

When asked this question, it’s important to remember the reason for an addiction intervention. To get the addicted person into treatment. Although it’s sometimes cathartic and refreshing for loved ones to express their feelings, this is not the sole purpose.

Be careful when you’re writing and reading your intervention letters to not ‘vent’ your emotions without a filter. The overall tone should be empathic, calm and loving. The language used should be kind, understanding and non-judgmental.

What Not to Say During an Intervention

The main concepts to avoid during an intervention are blame, anger and anything that implies an attack. This is why planning what you are going to say is best, so you don’t end up saying anything too aggressive or emotionally-charged.

Never say things like “this is all your fault,” “you’re ruining this family” or calling them a druggie or drunk. Avoiding negative language and hurtful labels are always key.

Are There Different Types of Intervention?

There is much more to holding an addiction intervention than just inviting the addicted person into a room. There needs to be strategy. Below we have outlined the 5 different methods of intervention and the benefits of each:

This method is the most popular of all the intervention types. It is based on the element of surprise and involves family, friends and an interventionist confronting the addicted person.

The aim of this method is talking mainly about the addicted person's behaviour and the harm it is causing everyone, including themselves. The Johnson Model is also aimed at preventing the addicted person from denying or deflecting their problem.

Consequences or ultimatums work well in this method which are presented if the addicted person refuses treatment. Caution with this method should be taken as bringing shame or pressure can often make the addicted person feel out of control or even guilty.

Similar to the Johnson Model, but this method removes the element of surprise by asking the addicted person to meet everyone else to discuss their addiction. Usually a nominee speaks directly with the addicted person about finding treatment.

They then either agree or disagree to attend, knowing full well what the meeting is about and where it could lead.

Advantages of this method include a willingness and expectancy to listen to the opinions of those concerned. However, refusing to attend the meeting is also a possibility. In this case, the family and friends can still meet - without the addicted person present - to put in place another plan.

This whole model is based on flexibility, versatility and adaptability. It allows the intervention to go any way (invitational or unexpected) based on the nature of the situation or the temperament of the addicted person.

This is why only interventionists should use this method, namely during interventions where violence is possible, or where an intervention is needed in an emergency.

The Systemic Model is aimed at being completely non-confrontational, blame-free and shame-free. Family and friends gather to remind the addict that they can live without their addiction.

This method is also different as it invites family, friends and even colleagues to sit with an interventionist and tell the addicted person how they have contributed to their addiction in some way.

This communal approach makes it less likely for the addicted person to feel singled out or ganged up on. Adolescents are a great target group to exercise this model of intervention with.

Similar to its use in psychotherapy and counselling, this method is all about empowering the addicted person to make changes for themselves.

It is all about understanding the addict's point of view, providing a judgement-free environment full of empathy. Creating trust and establishing individual goals is where the power lies.

Does Holding an Addiction Intervention Run Any Risks?

Research suggests that interventions themselves do not incur physical or psychological harm to the addicted person. However, what they can do is worsen your relationship with the addicted person.

Anger, resentment, hostility or even violence can ensue if an intervention goes wrong. Unsuccessful interventions often have to be followed by acting on those ultimatums – meaning family and friends will have to raise those barriers they threatened to.

Should I Hire an Interventionist?

DIY interventions can result in awkwardness, a general feeling of being lost in advice, and even fear at saying the wrong thing. It is a big thing, and so it deserves specialist guidance.
intervention specialist
Professional help is always very helpful as it offers an objective perspective to the situation and allows someone neutral to keep the team focused. You should always seek the help of an interventionist if the addicted person is any of the following:

  • A history of suicidal ideation, self-harm or suicide attempts
  • Severe mental illness (bipolar disorder, schizophrenia)
  • A history of aggressiveness or violence (physical or verbal)
  • Multiple addictions

Is It Best to Work Alone or As Part of a Team?

The most successful addiction interventions only involve people (usually around 4-6) who would wholeheartedly contribute in a positive manner to the outcome. These are normally important people in the addicted person’s life – perhaps a best friend, close relative, someone with authority they respect or someone who depends on them (a child for example.)

It is vital to not include anyone who the addicted person does not like, or who is likely to sabotage or let their feelings run amok during the intervention. People with mental health problems or substance abuse problems should also be omitted. Ask them to write a letter saying what they wish to convey and have someone else read it at the intervention if it’s important they are involved.

Treatment Programmes After Addiction Intervention

An interventionist will determine how extreme the addicted person’s behaviours are and therefore which treatment is required. Options can vary depending on individual circumstances such as finances, if they have any dependents, any legal obligations, among other commitments.

Doing some research before holding the intervention about the treatment options is a good idea. For more information you could:

  • Contact your doctor, an addiction specialist, or a mental health nurse
  • Get in touch with national organisations and online support groups
  • Look into your insurance options
  • Learn more about our admission steps and what referral entails
  • Look into locations and travel options
  • Get in touch with people you know who have been to rehab for advice

Above all, you should contact our admissions team today for help and advice on hosting an intervention, what to do after the intervention, and how we can help you along in future. We have all the answers you need – put your trust in us today and say goodbye to a life of addiction.

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