How to choose the right addiction intervention method

Interventions are most often used by concerned friends and family to persuade a loved one to seek help for substance abuse in addiction treatment centers. Made popular in recent years by TV shows and celebrity exposure, addiction interventions are best conducted as private and intimate discussions between friends and family that share true concern for the well-being of someone who is struggling with drug use.

However, the common conception of the process of addiction interventions can be misguided. The general public may envision a family in a room and a discussion guided by a professional, after which the person struggling with addiction flies off to a distant treatment center. On the contrary, interventions can function off of several different paradigms that can be aimed at treating not only the drug user, but the entire family as well.

Defining Addiction Intervention Models

Though the primary user may experience the most immediate effects of substance abuse, the network of family and friends may also be affected in ways that are not readily apparent. In these cases, other methods of addiction intervention may be beneficial.

InterventionSupport.com outlined the five major models of addiction intervention – the Johnson model, the Invitational model, the Field model, the Systemic Intervention model and the Motivational Interviewing model – and their uses within the practice of drug treatment programs.

The website explained the Johnson model as the conception most people have when they think of addiction interventions. An individual struggling with a drug or alcohol habit is called to a meeting where friends and family present the harmful effects of his or her drug use on their lives. The goal in a confrontational model is to break through the haze of denial that sometimes surrounds a person’s substance abuse – if the effects are made clear, chances are higher that treatment can begin.

The Invitational model, however, does not seek to surprise or confront the subject with the ills of his or her past. In this model, family and friends schedule a meeting either among themselves or with a specialist, and the subject in question is invited beforehand with full knowledge of what the meeting will entail. Whether or not the person struggling with substance abuse chooses to attend, InterventionSupport.com explained, the meeting still takes place for the benefit of family and friends.

Addiction interventions for unpredictable subjects

There are some cases where the particularly violent or unpredictable past of a drug user may prompt an alternative approach to addiction intervention, Recovery.org explained. If the subject has been excessively dishonest, accused of crimes or has a history of physical altercation, the Field model of intervention, which allows for quick adaptation or pulling together a meeting suddenly, can be the right choice.

Of course, the cause of substance abuse is difficult to pin down, and family members and friends may actually enable the habits of a drug user through intentional or accidental means. The Systemic Intervention model focuses on how the extended network of the person struggling with substance abuse has contributed to his or her destructive habits. Also, after the intervention, family and friends are encouraged to seek therapy and counseling as well.

There are some cases where any type of confrontational approach may drive the person struggling with substance abuse away, so the Motivational Interviewing model focuses entirely on positive conversations. Because this approach is more therapeutic and less goal-oriented, the individual may not feel the need to seek treatment immediately, but it can be a gentle way to prompt a change in his or her life.

Whatever the method of alcohol or drug addiction intervention happens to be, engaging someone struggling with addiction in a conversation with loved ones can be the push that person needs to seek professional help.

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