The Drug Interventions Program is a key part of the strategy for tackling drug abuse. Individuals who are addicted to drugs or alcohol usually do not know their addiction is out of control. They mirror themselves with their ‘friends’, who are also abusing substances and tend to believe that their own actions are acceptable. But these individuals need objective feedback on their behavior. It is through a non-judgmental, non-critical, systematic drug intervention process that the individual is able to see their own lifestyle choices. When they truly understand the impact that their alcohol dependence or drug addiction has on others, they may truly begin to see they are hurting those around them.
The drug intervention is an orchestrated attempt by one or more people – usually family and friends – to get someone to seek professional help with an addiction. The term intervention is most often used when a traumatic event involves addiction to drugs or other items. Drug intervention can also refer to the act of using a similar technique within a therapy session.
The goal of drug intervention is for the addict to accept the reality of their drug addiction and to seek help. The process of conducting a drug intervention is a difficult and delicate matter. It is important that it is done correctly; otherwise the individual may feel cornered and become defensive. Advice from a trained professional is useful in determining the proper strategy and timing for your specific intervention.
Interventions are either direct, typically involving a confrontational meeting with the individual in question, or indirect, involving work with a co-dependent family to encourage them to be more effective in helping the individual.
The use of interventions originated in 1960s with Dr. Vernon Johnson. The Johnson Model was subsequently taught, years later, at the Johnson Institute. Some believe, in the intervention industry, that Johnson’s model is helpful; others do not agree.
Two of the major models of intervention which are utilized today are known as the Systemic Family Model and the ARISE model. Whilst the ARISE model utilizes a predominantly invitational approach, in practice many of the same aspects of the Johnson Model are used. Systemic Family Model interventions may use an invitational approach, but often utilize the direct approach. Both models rely heavily on having the family as a whole entering a phase of recovery. This helps take the focus off the addicted individual and emphasizes the need for the entire family unit to change, in an effort for everyone who is involved to get healthy.
The Steps of Drug Intervention
- Stop all ‘rescue missions’ – Family members often try to protect an abuser from the results of their behaviour by making excuses to others about their abuse problem and by getting them out of drug-related situations. It is important to stop all such rescue attempts immediately, so that the addict will fully experience the harmful effects of their use and thereby become more motivated to stop.
- Don’t enable them – Sometimes family members feel sorry for the addict or tend to avoid the abuser; letting them come and go as they please. This comes across to the abuser as a reward ? after all, what they want is to be left alone. Be careful not to reward by paying bills, bailing them out of jail, letting them stay for free, etc. This kind of reward favors the addict and promotes criminal behavior.
- Time your drug abuse intervention – If possible, plan to talk with the addict when he is straight. Choose a time when all of you are in a calm frame of mind and when you can speak privately.
- Be specific – Tell the family member that you are concerned about their drug or alcohol abuse and want to be supportive in getting help. Back up your concern with examples of the ways in which their drug abuse has caused problems for you, including any recent incidents.
- State the consequences -Tell the family member that, until they get help, you will carry out consequences ? not to punish the drug abuser, but to protect yourself from the harmful effects of the abuse. These may range from refusing to be with the person when they are under the influence, to having them move out of the house. DO NOT make any threats which you are not prepared to carry out. The basic intention is to make the abuser’s life more uncomfortable, if he continues using drugs, than it would be for him to get help.
- Find strength in numbers – With the help of family members, relatives and friends, confront the abuser as a group. However, you should choose one person to be the initial spokesperson. It will be much more effective for the others to simply be there nodding their heads, than it would be for everyone to talk at once and ‘gang up’ on the abuser. Remember, the idea is to make it safe for them to come clean and seek help.
- Listen – If, during your drug abuse intervention, the abuser begins asking questions such as, “Where would I have to go? For how long?” this is a sign that he/she is reaching for help. Do not directly answer these questions. Instead have them call and talk to a professional. Support them. Don’t wait. Once you’ve got their agreement, get them admitted immediately. Therefore, you should have a bag packed for them, any travel arrangements made and prior acceptance into a Drug Rehab program.
If you suspect that an individual has a problem with drugs or alcohol, get involved. It is the active involvement by concerned others, who take action on behalf of the addict, who is trapped in the vicious cycle of dependence, which begins the process of lifestyle change. Drug intervention is the first step. Professional treatment is the second. Both are necessary steps but, with intervention, up to 85% of addicted people seek treatment to become free of their dependencies.