Nothing is harder than watching a loved one succumb to addiction. It is a condition that is preventable to some degree. It is also treatable in almost every case. Full recovery can happen, as long as that is the path addicts choose for themselves. Helping a loved one with a substance abuse problem find a path to recovery when they haven’t been successful on their own can be challenging for even the strongest of people. This is especially true when that person is in denial about how destructive their behavior has become for both themselves and others. Knowing when to take the next step is important, and understanding how to intervene can help your loved one succeed in recovery.
What is an Intervention?
Most people have heard the term intervention, but may not fully understand its meaning. Some may be familiar with it in a legal or contractual sense, or through some other means of conflict resolution. In its most basic form, it is a process by which individuals use assertive and collaborative communication to acknowledge and resolve a problem.
Types of interventions related to addiction include:
- Voluntary interventions, in which an addict seeks help for their substance abuse voluntarily, such as:
- Entering an addiction rehabilitation treatment program
- Contacting a mental health expert about their substance use
- Confiding in a trusted family member or friend for assistance in seeking help for their addiction
- Involuntary interventions, in which an addict comes to terms with their substance use through an event that transpires as a direct or indirect result of it, including:
- Getting arrested
- Experiencing a medical emergency
- Losing a job
- Getting divorced
Understanding how interventions can be applied to addiction and other behavioral issues can provide hope when it seems like all other efforts have failed. Knowing how it can help a loved one acknowledge their problems and agree to seek treatment is important. However, it is equally important that family and friends understand how the intervention can help them as well. In the case of addiction, this means confronting the person with incontrovertible evidence that they have a problem that is negatively impacting their life and the lives of those around them. It also means that family and friends must confront their own behaviors that might be enabling the person to continue using. All of this has to happen without hostility or aggression to ultimately help them see that they need to seek professional treatment.
What are Intervention Services?
Interventions are often a last ditch effort by family, friends, and even employers to help someone suffering from addiction get back on the right path. When done properly using the skills of a professionally-trained interventionist, an intervention can have both an educational and therapeutic effect on everyone involved. This process does take time, but having a neutral third party who is trained in substance abuse interventions assist with planning and mediating the situation can help ensure the best outcome.
Intervention services can help with the following:
- Identifying the intervention team (family members, friends, etc.)
- Determining who should intentionally be excluded
- Educating everyone involved
- Assessing the addiction and care needs
- Recommending treatment options for both the addict and others
- Ensuring follow-through on the response plan
- Exercising proper emotional responses during the event
Once you have determined that an intervention is right for you and your loved one, finding a service provider is the next step. Different service providers may specialize in one type of addiction or one type of intervention strategy, but any provider will focus on assessing the addiction and determining care needs. Take your time when evaluating the options, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Selecting the right type of service is an individualized process, as every addiction situation is unique.
Types of Intervention Approaches
Substance abuse affects each person differently, making their treatment needs unique. There are a number of types of intervention approaches, each addressing a specific component of the psychological, social, and behavioral aspects of addiction.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT is the most common approach to substance abuse treatment. It addresses psychological (irrational thoughts, self-esteem issues, etc.), social (communication and problem solving skills), and behavioral (coping mechanism and stress management) aspects that contribute to substance abuse and dependence.
Relapse Preventions (RP). This strategy focuses on helping those in recovery identify and avoid high-risk situations in which they are more likely to relapse.
Contingency Management (CM). This method is based on the principles of classical conditioning, where good behavior is rewarded with a voucher or prize of some sort. The approach is proving particularly valuable in adherence to opioid substitution programs.
Motivational Interviewing (MI). Also called motivations enhancement, this process helps individuals evaluate the contradictions between their behaviors (the substance abuse) and their personal values. This type of intervention is more effective in younger people with lower levels of dependence.
Brief Interventions (BI). These types of interventions are said to be effective in emergency rooms by essentially scaring someone straight or otherwise convincing them not to continue on their current course. This type of intervention is often effective for folks with substance abuse issues where there is a low level of dependence, but not very effective for long-term or severely consequential addiction.
Therapeutic Communities (TC). These are residential rehabilitation programs that focus on lifestyle and environmental changes to aid the recovery process. This approach is widely considered the norm in terms of treatment and rehab thanks to celebrity and pop culture references, but financing TC treatment can be difficult for many.
12-Step Programs. Another mainstay in popular knowledge of recovery, 12-step programs are largely self-directed, and take a significant commitment from the individual in order to work without other forms of treatment.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach in addiction recovery. While some methods work better for specific addictions, the circumstances that led to the addiction cannot be ignored. The best type of intervention and treatment plan is the one that works for you.
Understanding Your Payment Options
Cost alone is often a deterrent for seeking treatment. Individual needs, geography, and financial resources will all play a role in the treatment options you select. A professionally-directed intervention can cost thousands of dollars, while treatment centers can cost exponentially more. Still, the cost of forgoing treatment is much higher, up to and including the death of your loved one.
Many insurance providers cover substance abuse treatment, and a large number of companies have employee assistance programs to help cover the financial costs. As with any health-related issue for which you would seek medical help, it’s important to understand the details of your coverage and what limitations exist. Those with no coverage or financial resources to cover the cost should contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) National Helpline for a free referral to state-funded programs. Others can use this free service to find treatment programs that meet their needs or accept their coverage. Interventionists can also assist you with finding the right program to meet your needs and take full advantage of any insurance or other benefits available to your loved one.
Selecting an Interventionist
Using a professionally-trained interventionist can help ensure both time and money are well spent. More importantly, they will teach you how to avoid making the situation worse. Selecting someone with specialized training to help you plan the intervention event and understand the treatment options available can ease emotions about whether you are making the right choice to intervene. The Association of Intervention Specialists (AIS) can help you find Certified Intervention Professionals in your area.
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