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.

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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.

ARISE Intervention

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

  1. 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.
  2. Level 2 involves the entire intervention team working together through 2-5 sessions to motivate the individual to enter into a treatment service program.
  3. 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