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Drug & Alcohol

How Can Substance Abuse Interventions Help Your Family?

If your loved one is struggling in active addiction, you might feel overwhelmed and powerless. Their addiction is escalating and you are worried about their future. You may have mustered the courage to confront them about their drug or alcohol abuse only to be met with lies and denial. Now, more than ever, you need help. Not only finding a reliable substance abuse treatment center but convincing your loved one that treatment is the right decision for their growing addiction.

An intervention is a planned event where loved ones convey their message of love and concern to someone who is actively abusing drugs and alcohol. This event can be hosted by a loved one or an interventionist. The most effective interventions are often structured to defuse potential problems, and offer quick and direct solutions when it comes to getting them into treatment before they use again.

Unfortunately, convincing a loved one to embrace sobriety is not that easy and often drives the person to leave frustrated and looking to get high. To ensure an intervention goes well, families will look to an interventionist to plan and guide the intervention as well as arrange plans for their loved one to go to a suitable drug and alcohol rehab.

An intervention not only offers a solution of seeking substance abuse treatment, but it also provides closure to family members. Interventions can be the first step in healing family relationships that are stretched thin due to the loved ones destructive behaviors in active addiction. In many ways, intervention is the first step toward a healthy lifestyle in recovery.

What Makes a Drug and Alcohol Intervention Successful?

An intervention specialist guides the intervention to ensure the event goes smoothly. Being trained as an expert in addiction therapy and intervention models, they tailor each intervention to the length of the abuse and the support the struggling individual has.

Models of Family Intervention Services

Interventions have different models or techniques on how to approach confronting a loved one about their active addiction. In many scenarios, friends and family craft statements or speeches of love and concern to convince them that they deserve a better life and seeking treatment is the best decision for their future. A simple one-on-one intervention might not convince the addicted loved one that they have a problem. Depending on the severity of the addiction, discussing their growing substance abuse problem may cause them to feel attacked or cause them to leave and go get high.

Group interventions help the loved one see their behavior not only from your eyes, but the eyes of the whole family as well as friends. Having a group of friends and family conveying their concern may be a little easier than the on-on-one method. Rest assured, there are many models of interventions that you can explore to help guide your intervention. Most of them are based on positive reinforcement and inspiring the loved one to get help. Others may come from a more forceful stance of setting boundaries and holding them accountable for those boundaries being crossed.

A Better Today Recovery Services recommends the Johnson, Field, and Systemic model of intervention because we believe that a person who goes into rehab willingly will leave with the best intentions of living in sobriety.

Johnson Model of Intervention

The Johnson Model of interventions focuses on conveying the message of love and care to the person struggling with an addiction. This model relies on offering a safe and nonjudgmental place that will inspire an ‘eye opening’ moment. Instead of blaming, shaming, and forcing the person into treatment, the Johnson model aims to educate and motivate the individual to want to change and be the person that everyone loves again. Positive reinforcement and low confrontation is generally the focus when it comes to this type of intervention model.

Systemic Model of Intervention

The main goal of the systemic model is to educate and offer closure to the whole family during the intervention process. This model encourages the whole family to unite as a team to save their loved one from a life of drug abuse. Like the Johnson model, the Systemic model includes conveying support and encouragement to the loved one struggling with drugs or alcohol. The whole family learning to cope with what happened during a loved one’s drinking or drug intake and convey how that person’s active addiction has affected them is key in this model.

Field Model of Intervention

The Field Model incorporates aspects of the Johnson Model but focuses heavy on the potential of the addicted loved one being aggressive or violent during the intervention. This model relies on defusing problems and non-aggressive language like, “ I feel this when you do that” or other “I” statements. The Field model is widely practiced by intervention specialists due to the training needed for preventing violent outbursts. Like the Johnson model, the Field model is built on the same foundation of conveying a message of love and avoids shaming the person into treatment.

Benefits of Early Intervention: Empowering Families to Support Their Loved Ones

Addiction effects everyone differently. Just like treatment plans, interventions should be tailored to the person and their addictive substance they are abusing. Depending on the substance of choice and the relationship you have with the addicted loved one, they may act out with aggression and feel offended when you are pouring your heart out to them. They may not be thinking clearly because everything in their life revolves around their addiction and getting their drug of choice.

A Better Today Recovery Services needs you to understand that it is not your fault and you did not cause your loved one to abuse drugs or alcohol. Believing that can allow you to move forward and be a strong support system for your loved one. By hosting this intervention you will not only help save your loved ones future, you will also be providing closure for you and your family. Once you get them into rehab, you will be able to get all of your questions answered and learn about addiction as a family disease. But this healing has to start somewhere and that place is usually at an intervention.

Struggling with a Loved One in Active Addiction? We Can Help

When a family is dealing with someone who is abusing drugs or alcohol, they tend to feel overwhelmed. They strive to understand why their loved one can cause so much pain to others without remorse and why they refuse to just stop. Many people have conveyed feeling powerless or useless before they decided to find treatment for their loved one.

They will not listen to me.
They are stealing from me to pay for drugs.
They go on 3 day binges and refuse to answer their phone.
I feel like I am losing my loved one to drugs and alcohol.
I am afraid they will overdose and this time, there will be no one there to save them.

These are common scenarios that family members find themselves in when they are struggling with a loved one in active addiction. Looking to an intervention specialist or hosting an intervention can feel like the only method to saving their lives and sometimes it is.

An intervention specialist offers their expertise in organizing, guiding, and getting the loved one into drug and alcohol treatment. Know that you are not alone and if you need help, all you have to do is call.

Call A Better Today Recovery Services For Guidance with Your Intervention

ABTRS’s 7 Step Guide to Hosting Your Own Intervention:

The time has come and you no longer can stand back and watch your loved one destroy their life. Whether you have watched them struggle for years or you have just discovered that their addiction is taking over their life; you have decided to be the hero you know you can be for them. Making the final decision to host an intervention for them, you may be feeling anxious, motivated, and perhaps a little bit lost about where to start.

An effective intervention has many components to it but A Better Today Recovery Services has faith that you will help them see reason, you will inspire them with your message of love and concern, and get them the treatment they need. So let’s get started.

Step One: Researching Substance Abuse Treatment Options

This can feel like the most overwhelming step, doing the research. Because there is so much that goes into finding the right drug and alcohol treatment center, many people have hired intervention specialist to aid in this part of the intervention. Finding a treatment facility that you trust, that is safe, and is located in an environment that promotes long-lasting recovery can be difficult. Do not be afraid to call an addiction specialist for advice, remember getting your questions answered will empower you to make the right decision and encourage you to move forward with your plan.

Doing research ahead of time gives you control of what happens after the intervention. With any luck, they will hear the love in your message and decide that rehab is the best move. You NEED to be ready to get them to treatment right away. Right now, they may agree to treatment but as soon as they start craving drugs or alcohol; they might not be so sure about treatment then.

Be packed and ready to capitalize on the moment they say yes. By doing your research ahead of time, you may be able to work something out with insurance companies. Many insurance companies cover all or a fraction of the cost for substance abuse treatment. By talking to an addiction specialist, you can determine the best plan of action with as many resources as possible to ensure this intervention is a success.

Do You Have Questions & Need Answers?

Need Advice on Picking Your Intervention Team?

Step Two: Picking Your Intervention Team

This step can make or break any intervention. Selecting a team of family and/or friends who can effectively encourage the individual to get help is key. Seeing their family and friends perspective of their behavior can help them see just how much they need help for their growing addiction. Honestly, you can have as many people as you want, but realize that if the number is too big, you run the risk of the intervention being 4 hours and that may cause the person to want to want to leave. We recommend about 5 to 8 people at the intervention with it lasting no more than 3 hours.

You need to pick people that they trust and avoid anyone they might have ongoing conflict with. It could cause a confrontation or make them think you are picking sides which could cause them to shut down, leave and use drugs or alcohol. An intervention is intended to motivate them to get treatment for their addiction and if you don’t have the right people helping out on the team, it could spark offensive or aggressive behavior.

Step Three: Crafting the Speech or Messages of Inspiration

As the intervention host, you must know exactly what each person on the team will say. Therefore, you should help guide the crafting process of their speeches or statements they want to convey in the intervention. If you do not help your team craft their speeches, you run the risk of provoking the addicted loved one to feel attacked. When attacked, this may cause them to leave and abuse drugs and alcohol to cope with the intervention. Doing your best to control how your group encourages them to get treatment is your main role during the actual event. Here are quick tips for speech crafting you can share with your group.

  • Structure your feelings or thoughts around I feel statements.
    • When you are high on drugs, I feel like you are…
    • When you lie about being high, I feel like it tests our bonds of trust.
    • When you do not come home for days, I feel worried for your safety and wish you were a part of the family again.
  • Avoid blaming or shaming anyone. Even if you feel you are to blame, you need to keep the focus on encouraging them and not blaming them. There will be time for accountability and now is not that time.
  • Explain very clearly what you are offering to them.
    • I am here today to offer my support. I can not condone the lying or the stealing, but what I can do is ______ to get you to go to rehab. After you get help we can ________.
    • I am here today to drive you to drug and alcohol rehab and help you through every step. Know that when you call me, I will answer to encourage you to complete your treatment and I will be there when you graduate the program to welcome you back in the family.
  • If your group agrees upon drawing boundaries as a method to ‘force’ them to go to rehab, remember that method comes with risks and you must stick by the boundaries that you draw or you are enabling them.
    • When you leave to go abuse drugs or alcohol, I feel worried about your safety. Until you get help for your addiction, I will not let you use my car.
    • When I have to pick you up from the hospital because you overdosed on heroin, I feel confused, I feel sad that you do not stop using drugs that can easily kill you. If you do not go to rehab today, I will not let you sleep under my roof any more.
  • Love and acceptance should be the main focus, even though you feel hurt, confused, and mainly used. You need to focus your words and tone to come from an encouraging place. When you learn about addiction as a disease, you will get your questions answered and can attend family therapy sessions to bring up some of the harder more hurtful issues to discuss. Right now, you need to convince them they need drug and alcohol treatment before they use again.

Connecting You With Quality of Drug and Alcohol Treatment

Step Four: Proper Timing of an Intervention

Deciding when to host an intervention is just as important as the content of the intervention. Depending on the depth of their addiction, one of the best times to host an intervention is right after a major drug-related event has occurred. For example, if they just got arrested for a drug or alcohol related incident or crime; consider using that as a foundation for your intervention. Try not to hold the intervention when the person is high or drunk as those tend to go bad really quick. You want them to see reason and understand that they have a problem; trying to get them to see reason while they drunk or high could cause problems you can not control.

Pick a time that is good for the whole group that allots plenty of time for each person to read their encouraging letters. If at all possible, be ready and waiting to take the person to rehab right away. You do not want to give them time to get high first or change their mind once you have convinced them that they have a drug or alcohol problem. This is where doing your research ahead of time pays off.

Step Five: Should You Tell Them About Your Intervention

Surprisingly enough this is a hard decision. Do you tell your loved one you are throwing them an intervention or do you surprise them? If you decide to tell them you are hosting an intervention a couple of bad things can happen.

Being Upfront and Honest

If you decide to tell them you are hosting an intervention for them you are starting the healing process with complete honesty. That is the best way to start this process. However, depending on the depth of their addiction and their personality type, that may cause them not to show up, go on a 3 day binge, or cause them to cut off contact with you because you are intervening on their drug abuse. These risks are real and have happened to many people over the years.

The Surprise Intervention

The surprise intervention is more common than the upfront intervention. This method does increase the risk of them feeling attacked or could spark aggressive behavior toward the people involved. But sometimes this can be the only way to get them to listen to your concerns. When you are dealing with a heroin, meth, or even a prescription pill addiction, sometimes surprising them is a matter of saving their life. Yes, they will be upset, but if you defuse the situation properly and remind them that you have gathered out of love, care, and support; it may hopefully end with them agreeing to get help right away.

Have Confidence that Your Loved One Will Want to go to Rehab Willingly.

Let honesty be a bridge that will encourage them to get help. Be the hero you always wanted to be for them.

What Makes an Interventionist Qualified to Host Your Life Saving Intervention?

Step Six: The Day of the Intervention

On the day of the intervention, family members will take turns reading their speeches to the loved one with hope that they will want to seek treatment. You should go first and last. Going first means setting the mood or the tone of the intervention, conveying that everyone gathered here has gathered because you love and care for their future. Always explain the intention of the intervention and never shame them for their addiction.

Expressing that the messages they are going to hear are from the heart and the people gathered today only want to see them better and getting the help that they need. Having their son or daughter follow your lead can help them see how their current behavior while under the influence is hurting the one who depends on them the most.

Having a spouse or a parent toward the end of the intervention could really help change their mind about their current direction in life. Whatever the order is for your intervention, know exactly what each person is going to say. This will prepare you in case you need to defuse a problem. Going last means that you can simplify what was said and make the offer to get treatment at a drug alcohol rehab. Taking action after the intervention to either get them to rehab or to a hospital to properly detox is important. If you host an intervention and do not take action afterwards, you could be setting up enabling behavior from here on out.

Step Seven:  Don’t Forget a Backup Plan

A Better Today Recovery Services has every bit of faith that you can do this intervention, but we need to tell you this; not all interventions end with them willingly going to rehab. You need to know that many substances corrupt the part of the brain that deals with pleasure and rewards.

To a person caught up in their addiction, they do not see rehab as pleasurable and may try to avoid it at all cost. No intervention is a failed intervention. Do not blame yourself for them refusing to go to substance abuse treatment. A lot of unexpected things can happen during an intervention. They may leave the room, cry, scream or become violent.

They may blame everyone but themselves and storm off to go abuse drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with what they heard everyone say. Do not lose faith, if anything, visit an al-anon or nar-anon meeting to get more guidance and support for when you will try again.

Al-Anon and Nar-Anon are fellowship support groups that focus on the family of the loved one who is abusing drugs or alcohol. They can give you advice and help you with your loved one. Don’t lose hope, get help. If you need help convincing your loved one to seek treatment, A Better Today Recovery Services network will try our best to help you in whatever you need. Saving lives and healing families; it is what we do.

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Reputable Resources Matter When Your Loved One’s Future is Involved

No one likes fake news. In this day and age, it is important to know where your information is coming from so that the important decisions that must be made are indeed made to the best of our knowledge. Knowledge is power and when it comes to substance abuse treatment, the power needed to overcome the stigma associated with drug and alcohol addiction needs to come from an unbiased source.

Our network utilizes information that is not funded by organizations that could benefit from certain outcomes and proven or tested to be effective for substance abuse treatment and aftercare.  Below are the sources we used to develop the content on our website and all written materials from ABTRS. We will continue to try to provide you with reputable sources that are up to date and relevant.

Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Brief Interventions and Brief Therapies for Substance Abuse. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 1999. (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 34.) Chapter 2—Brief Interventions in Substance Abuse Treatment. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64942/

NIDA. (2018, January 17). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition). Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition on 2019, February 4

Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Brief Interventions and Brief Therapies for Substance Abuse. Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 34. HHS Publication No. (SMA) 12- 3952. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 1999. 

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