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SUBSTANCE ABUSE INTERVENTIONS:
HOW TO HELP SOMEONE WITH ADDICTION

Drug addiction has had devastating effects on the health and well-being of millions of Americans. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), overdoses alone killed more than 63,000 Americans in 2016. Overdose is not the only consequence of addiction; people who develop addiction also experience consequences like health problems, difficulty functioning at work and an inability to control drug use.

People need treatment to recover from a substance use disorder — the clinical term for drug addiction. However, they may not always be willing to get help. When a loved one has an addiction but does not seek treatment despite suffering serious consequences from drug abuse, a drug intervention may motivate them to get help.

Table of Contents

What Is a Drug Intervention?

A drug intervention is a process where family members and close friends gather to express their concerns about a loved one’s addiction and encourage them to seek treatment. An intervention is necessary when a person continues to abuse drugs and does not find the situation serious enough to seek treatment. For instance, if a person has lost control over drug use but does not see a need to go to rehab, it is likely time to intervene.

Signs that your loved one may require an intervention include: 

  • Spending significant amounts of money on drugs
  • Using larger and larger quantities of drugs
  • Having a hard time reducing drug use
  • Using drugs even when it causes physical danger (driving under the influence, for example)

If your loved one is displaying these signs and has not sought treatment on their own, your first step in the intervention process is to determine who will be a part of the team. Often, parents and siblings participate in an intervention. In some cases, older children may also participate in their parent’s intervention. Other supportive people, such as close friends, colleagues or people from church, may also be a part of the drug intervention. 

Guidelines for a Drug Intervention

There are some general guidelines for how to hold a drug intervention, but there are also different types of interventions. In general, it is important to plan ahead for an intervention. This means deciding who will be part of the team and choosing what to say during the intervention. Often, loved ones will tell the person with addiction how drug use has negatively affected them. Those who participate in the intervention usually create a list of consequences that the person with an addiction will face if they decide not to seek help. 

To hold a successful intervention, it is important to stay on track during the meeting. It is also critical that participants are prepared to stick to any consequences they have planned.

Beyond these general guidelines, there are several models that have their own methods of approaching an intervention. These include:

  • Johnson model: The Johnson model approaches an intervention using a confrontational method. When conducting a Johnson intervention, you determine which individuals from your loved one’s social life will participate in the intervention. Your group gathers for two planning meetings, during which a professional will teach the consequences of enabling addiction and help you develop a plan for the intervention. Your group then holds the intervention with the help of the professional, confronts the person about alcohol abuse, and convinces them to seek treatment. The person with addiction does not know about the intervention until it occurs.
  • ARISE: The ARISE method is labeled an “invitational intervention.” With this method, ongoing family meetings begin increasing in intensity to lead your loved one toward treatment. The person with the addiction is included in meetings from the very start, so there are no surprises. Rather than being confrontational, ARISE is gentle, loving and inclusive of the person with the addiction.
  • CRAFT: CRAFT is an acronym for Community Reinforcement and Family Training. The CRAFT model teaches families how to communicate with a person with addiction, practice self-care and use positive reinforcement to encourage desired behaviors. The model can teach the family how to get their loved one to attend treatment, but it does not use surprise meetings.
  • Family systemic model: This model considers how addiction affects not only the person struggling with addiction but also their family members and close friends. The family systemic model encourages the whole family to receive some sort of treatment and develop healthy communication patterns. It does not involve any secret meetings; the person with addiction attends all meetings and is a part of the conversation. There may be multiple meetings, but ultimately, everyone who participates is encouraged to seek counseling. This can help them heal from the harmful effects addiction has on a family unit.
  • Motivational interviewing: Intervention specialists may use motivational interviewing to help people overcome their hesitation to seek addiction treatment. This approach acknowledges that it is normal for people to have some resistance to seeking help. An interventionist using motivational interviewing is empathetic and non-confrontational. They also look for ways to uncover how your loved one’s addiction may be interfering with their goals in life. 

Some strategies may work better than others, depending on your family’s unique needs and situation. A teenager may do better with a family systemic model intervention, as they will feel respected if they are allowed to be a part of the intervention meetings. Teenage drug addiction is especially likely to harm all members of the family, so this model may be the best way to ensure the entire family can heal.

On the other hand, an adult with a more severe addiction may require a Johnson model intervention. For example, a person who is in late-stage addiction may be unwilling to participate in a planned intervention. In this case, a surprise meeting may be the best approach. 

Drug Intervention Team

As mentioned, close family members like parents, siblings and children are typically part of a drug intervention team. Close friends and other support people may also participate.

Beyond these key participants, a drug intervention specialist is an important part of an intervention team. These professionals are trained in the signs of addiction and can help family members communicate effectively with each other throughout the course of an intervention. An interventionist can also increase your chances of success by keeping the meeting on track and helping to dissolve conflict. 

Effectiveness of Drug Interventions

Statistics show that interventions can be effective. In fact, one study found that about two-thirds of people who participated in a CRAFT intervention went to treatment. The study also found that the CRAFT model tended to be more effective than the Johnson model, so the effectiveness of interventions may depend on the type of model used. 

Not all drug interventions will be successful, but research offers hope that a planned intervention can work. It’s also important to note that in order for a person to be successful with recovery, they must stay in treatment after detox. Detox is just the first step in drug abuse treatment, and it is critical for the person to transition to ongoing treatment after completing detox.

When an intervention does not successfully motivate a person to seek treatment, the family may still find some benefit from the intervention. For instance, an interventionist can teach family members how to best support their loved one and interact with them in a way that does not enable the addiction. Over time, the loved one may eventually choose to go to treatment because of these changes. 

Drug Intervention Services in New Jersey

If you are looking for drug intervention services in New Jersey, you can call the IME Addictions Access Center 24/7 helpline. Helpline staff members can link you to drug interventionists and treatment services throughout the state.

If you are ready to find a New Jersey treatment center where your loved one can begin rehab after an intervention, The Recovery Village Cherry Hill at Cooper is here to help. We offer a variety of services, including inpatient and outpatient treatment, detox, partial care services and aftercare. Contact us today to learn how we can help to facilitate the intervention process for your loved one. 

FAQs

Drug interventions are a variety of strategies that involve confronting a person about drug addiction and encouraging them to go to treatment.

The preferred method for setting up an intervention is to hire an interventionist, plan what will be said during the meeting and offer your loved one a chance to attend addiction treatment. A professional can help you plan the specifics of the intervention.

Drug interventions are not guaranteed to succeed, and not every drug intervention strategy works for everyone. However, drug interventions can be effective, and one study found that the CRAFT intervention model was successful about two-thirds of the time.

According to the Intervention Helpline, the cost of an intervention ranges from about $3,800 to $18,000, but the typical intervention is usually $6,000 or less. This is the cost associated with a formal intervention, which usually involves planning meetings and coordinating treatment services. You may be able to find more affordable intervention services by working with a family therapist throughout the course of family counseling. Costs can vary widely.

Get Help

If you or someone you love is facing a substance use disorder, The Recovery Village Cherry Hill at Cooper can help. We offer medical detox and comprehensive rehab programs that are tailored to suit your needs.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “What is drug addiction?” July 2018. Accessed October 21, 2020. 

American Psychological Association. “Johnson Intervention.” 2011. Accessed October 1, 2020. 

ARISE Network. “An Overview Of ARISE® Comprehensive Care With Intervention.” 2020. Accessed October 1, 2020. 

Center for Motivation and Change. “What is CRAFT.” 2014. Accessed October 1, 2020. 

Association of Intervention Specialists. “What is the Family Systemic Model?” May 2, 2017. Accessed October 1, 2020. 

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “Enhancing Motivation for Change in Substance Abuse Treatment.”  1999. Accessed October 1, 2020. 

Roozen, Hendrik; et al. “Community Reinforcement and Family Training: An Effective Option to Engage Treatment-Resistant Substance-Abusing Individuals in Treatment.” Addiction, 2010. Accessed October 2, 2020. 

Intervention Helpline. “Will Insurance Really Cover Interventions?” September 19, 2018. Accessed October 21, 2020. 

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.