Drug and Alcohol Addiction Intervention, Treatment, and Recovery
An intervention is a method that families and loved ones can use to try and help a person struggling with problematic substance abuse. The primary purpose of interventions is to encourage the individual to enter into a treatment program and start the path to recovery. Loved ones can often struggle to communicate with those who struggle with substance abuse and this is where interventions can be particularly helpful.
What Is an Intervention?
An intervention is a structured, well-planned, and focused meeting between an ‘intervention team’ and an individual struggling with substance abuse. An intervention team may be made up of family members, friends, neighbors, teammates, clergy members, coworkers, classmates, or whoever else is impacted by the individual’s substance abuse, and the person needing help. Interventions should only be led by trained and qualified professionals in order to promote recovery.
The Importance of Interventions
Over 20 million Americans battle addiction; however, the American Society for Addiction Medicine (ASAM) publishes that only one out of every 10 people who need help for drug and/or alcohol abuse receive it.1 Addiction is an all-encompassing disease that negatively impacts not only the individual struggling with it, but also their families, loved ones, coworkers, teammates, and anyone else in a person’s social circle.
The cost to society for substance abuse is staggering, as the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) estimates expenses of around $600 billion each year in crime, healthcare, and lost workplace production.2 Substance abuse treatment programs can greatly lower both the personal and societal cost of addiction, but individuals battling the disease may be resistant to enter into a treatment program. In many cases, interventions organized by professionals and the families of the struggling individual can greatly increase their chances of entering treatment.
Types of Intervention Models for Treatment & Recovery
There are several different types of intervention models, all of which strive to help a person realize how their drug and alcohol use affects those around them and recognize that a problem exists. The most common models for a substance abuse intervention are outlined below:
The Johnson Model
The Johnson Model is likely the most typical form of intervention for substance abuse, as it is a traditional and confrontational method. The American Psychological Association (APA) publishes that the Johnson Model typically involves a person’s primary caregiver initially. This person will then form the intervention team out of the individual’s social network, along with a professional interventionist.3
They will then host several meetings, planning the intervention with professionals without the knowledge of the person in question. The actual intervention is carried out by the intervention team with a specific plan in place, goals for treatment solutions, and consequences if the loved one refuses to get professional help.
The ARISE method for interventions is an alternative to traditional confrontational methods and involves the person struggling with addiction right from the beginning. There are no secrets with this model, and the interventionist, support network, caregiver, and individual in need all work collaboratively to get help.4
ARISE Model Levels
An ARISE model, as explained by the Association of Intervention Specialists (AIS), has progressive levels from one to three.5
- Level 1 is the initial phone call by a concerned loved one to a certified ARISE interventionist who helps set up a planned meeting between the support group and the person requiring help.
- Level 2 involves the entire intervention team working together through 2-5 sessions to motivate the individual to enter into a treatment service program.
- Level 3 is the formal intervention. The ARISE intervention method is respectful, gentle, and offers a full continuum of care.
Family Systemic Intervention
The Family Systemic Intervention Model also includes the whole family and the person battling drug and/or alcohol abuse right from the start. AIS publishes that this method includes several meetings, where individuals and family members talk about how addiction has impacted them personally in an attempt to motivate change.
The goal of a Family Systemic Intervention is to get the entire family into some form of counseling and the person battling addiction into a formal rehab program. With this model, families all go to therapy together to improve the family unit as a whole. The Family Systemic Intervention Model involves several meetings, and it can be a longer and more drawn-out process.
Staging an Intervention & Seeking Drug Treatment Service
Regardless of which type of intervention families and loved ones decide to use, it is essential to enlist the help of a professional interventionist to carry out a formal intervention. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) reports on studies showing that an intervention, when carried out with the help of a professional interventionist, is successful in getting people into treatment programs around 90% of the time.6
Families are advised to always consult a professional when planning an intervention, but especially when:
- Their loved one has a history of violence, aggression, or self-harm.
- There is polysubstance abuse.
- There is a history of mental illness or mental health concerns.
A professional interventionist is trained to guide families and loved ones through the entire process, offering support and guidance along the way. It is important to note that families should never try and organize interventions on their own, but rely on experienced professionals who can make sure that the entire process goes safely and smoothly.
An intervention will provide specific details and examples of how drug and/or alcohol abuse has negatively affected each member of the intervention team, include prearranged treatment options, and dictate specific consequences that will occur if the person refuses to enter into treatment.7The intervention is designed to help a person become motivated on their own to seek treatment. They need to agree that treatment is the right thing to do, and the goal of the intervention is to help them see that substance abuse and addiction hurt the people close to them.
Frequently Asked Questions
An interventionist is a valuable person who provides assistance for the user, especially the one that might be reluctant to address their substance abuse problems. Professional interventionists play many roles in the treatment of the individual. They need to:8
- Identify the user’s family members in order to form a recovery team.
- Provide support for the user and their family.
- Educate the user and a recovery team.
- Provide guidance, direction, and training.
- Facilitate the intervention and aftercare.
It is essential for families and loved ones to refrain from organizing any kind of intervention without the help of a professional. If you wish to maximize the chances of your loved one entering treatment, it is crucial that you receive the right kind of guidance, advice, and support, which can only come from a qualified professional.
- In order for an intervention to be effective, the treatment needs to be available immediately. Since alcohol and substance abusers might not be certain about entering treatment and recovery, it is crucial to provide them with available services. The earlier the treatment is offered, the greater is the likelihood of positive outcomes.9Also, intervention should focus on the user as a person and their numerous needs, not just on their substance and/or alcohol abuse issues intervention and drug treatment service should also be appropriate to the individual’s age, gender, ethnicity, and culture.
- According toSAMHSA, an intervention is the most likely to be successful if an individual can understand how their alcohol and/or drug abuse puts them at risk. It is crucial for them to understand that the intervention is staged out of care and concern for their wellbeing.10Supposing that the intervention team members have researched treatment programs and services before staging an intervention, it would be beneficial if they provided the user with several options. It is important for the individual to have a say in finding a suitable choice since that might give them a sense of autonomy. That way, they would be more invested in the treatment process and there would be a greater chance of a successful outcome.
1. American Society of Addiction Medicine. (2017). Addiction Treatment Gap Awareness Week Starts April 24th.
2. National Institute of Drug Abuse. (2018). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition): Is drug addiction treatment worth its cost?
3. American Psychological Association. (2011). Johnson Intervention.
4. Arise Network. (2020). Services Overview.
5. Association of Intervention Specialists. (2017). What is an Arise Intervention?
6. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. (2016). Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health.
7. Harvard Health Publishing. (2020). When a loved one has an addiction.
8. Emmerton, L.M., Hoti, K., Hughes, J.D. and Lee, K. (2014). Interventions to Assist Health Consumers to Find Reliable Online Health Information: A Comprehensive Review.
9. National Institute of Drug Abuse. (2018). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition): How effective is drug addiction treatment?
10. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2013). TAP 33: Systems-Level Implementation of Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT).