Talking to an addict can be a difficult ordeal. A drug abuse intervention can be even more difficult. Drug addiction is a complicated phenomenon, and those who live with and battle addiction have very difficult and harsh lives. The whole concept of hosting an intervention has been played out numerous times on various media such a television and movies. While most people think that intervention is about hosting a group discussion where the addicted person is invited off-guard, hosting a proper intervention has a dedicated structure and a methodology. Most forms of interventions are divided into various categories depending upon the nature of the addiction and the psyche of the addict.
One of the most difficult things to deal with during addiction is the confusion that it creates in the person and communications with the addict. Also some families have trouble understanding addiction in the first place. The condition worsens when the addict has to communicate with the family. Family members naturally react with shock and dismay when they discover that their loved ones are drug addicts and the line of communication from there on can cause more harm than good if not managed properly.
While there are proper methods of conducting drug abuse intervention, there are certain things the participants should keep in mind before prescribing to any of the methodologies. These qualities will not only help in communication but will also provide a positive and healthy atmosphere. Some of these steps that should be taken are mentioned below:
- Approaching with kindness- Having an attitude of judgment never helps the addict and it also begins to wreck the relationship between the addict and their family members. It is important to show the addict that people still care for them despite their current predicament, and there are friends and family members to support them through this. Showing kindness establishes a direct link with the addict and helps in further communication. Being motivational in place of being judgmental will allow the addict to accept changes and be more responsive to instructions in general. A lot of intervention tactics focus on removing shame and guilt from the process and ensure that the addict is not defensive.
- It is important to listen- While the main intention here is to bring the addict to a right path through careful instructions and support, it is extremely important to listen to the addict. The addict should never feel as if things are beyond their control or understanding. Added to this, it is important to learn how the addiction developed in the first place and the person’s exact relationship with the addiction. The addict will only feel confident in confiding all the details if they feel comfortable to talk and their words are heard. A general rule is to listen as much as talk in these situations.
- Remain consistent with the message- As mentioned above, an addict faces high levels of confusion in their lives. Due to this, it is important to remain consistent with the message that is being imparted. Consistency in both words and actions are important as it will show the addict a firm way to move ahead. Such consistent instructions will drive the addict towards change.
- Showing support during change- Since addiction has numerous harsh stages of withdrawal, it can be a very difficult endeavor. Hence it is vital that the addict is assured of support and company during the entire process of change. People who are going to be with the addict throughout must constantly communicate their support and impart a positive ambiance.
The various methodologies for doing a drug abuse intervention
There are about seven well-established drug abuse intervention formats that are accepted by the medical and psychological community. Most of these methods do not allow for inputs from the addicts themselves as most of the decisions are made before the actual intervention, and an entire treatment plan is prepared for the addicts.
The main idea behind the drug abuse intervention is to get the addicts to agree to a treatment plan and begin changing their lives. Such interventions are also extremely helpful for those addicts who find it difficult to voice their problems and actively seek help. One of the main goals of these interventions is to take the pressure off the addicts. By doing so, addicts can be empowered to take action and start feeling better about themselves and their lives. Some of the major types of drug abuse intervention formats are mentioned below:
One of the most primary forms of intervention, this often is done on a standalone basis and is delivered in a direct form. Crisis interventions are usually employed when the situation has worsened to an alarming degree and time is no longer a luxury. In dealing with such emergent situations, crisis intervention has proved to be extremely helpful. Crisis intervention is extremely effective at dealing with drug abusers who also suffer from various kinds of mental health problems. In the United States alone, about 50% of the drug users suffer from mental health complications. Crisis intervention is perfect for these scenarios. Crisis intervention is very similar to a direct intervention which is often delivered by family members. It involves showing support and strength while at the same time imparting a clear message. It is also important to let the addicts know about their consequences of their action and how they affect others. One of the challenges of staging a crisis intervention is the very short time period that it offers. Staging a proper drug abuse intervention in such a period of time can be challenging.
The Johnson model is probably the most popular form of drug abuse intervention techniques that is popularly used by friends and family members. This model of intervention uses the element of surprise and friends and families often conduct the intervention under the presence and guidance of an interventionist. This form of drug abuse intervention conducts a discussion about the addict’s behavior and the effect the user’s habit is having on their lives and the lives of everyone else. The main goal behind the Johnson model is to remove any resistance or denial from the side of the addict. Often an ultimatum is given to the addict in the Johnson model in case the addict refuses to go into therapy or rehab. Making the addict realize about the effects of their actions on their loved ones can be a powerful phenomenon for the addict and can help them come to terms with their problem and accept it. Care must be taken to never introduce factors such as shame into the conversion as it can send the addicts into a deeper sense of self-loathing which can increase the addiction.
This model is very similar to the Johnson model with the only difference being that the addict is not surprised into an intervention. Rather, they are informed and subsequently invited to a proper drug abuse intervention hosted by friends and families. The usual methodology involves a single friend or family member approaching the addict and starting a discussion about seeking help and making a change. Once the addict is seen to be receptive to the idea of help, an invitation is extended for a proper intervention session. The decision of attending the meeting completely rests with the addict. The main advantage of the invitation method is that by eliminating the element of surprise, the addict is encouraged not to be defensive and follow the example of the friend and be open.
Applying the field model of drug abuse intervention usually requires the presence of a professional interventionist or a therapist. The interventionist is free to make decisions within the field. Regarding its approach, it combines both the tactics of the Johnson and the invitation model. It offers the freedom to the addict to make the decision of seeking help without surprise, but at the same time, the interventionist has some control over the way the healing process is going to proceed. This model is preferred for its flexibility and is perfect for addicts who are prone to violent or negative outbursts. Field model is also extremely simple in its application and requires only minimum time for preparation. In extreme cases, the presence of a professional interventionist or a therapist might be required.
The systemic model deviates from typical drug abuse intervention strategies and is not confrontational on any level. In this model, friends and family members approach the addict and try to support and inspire them to lead a fulfilling life without depending on substances. The systemic model categorically avoids any kind of blame or judgment and never places shame on the addict. The interventionist carefully invites both the family and the addict to have a constructive discussion. The systemic model, as the name suggests, looks at the whole problem of drug abuse as a community or a social problem and not something inherently wrong with the addict. This approach also lowers the possibility of the addict becoming defensive in the face of an intervention. This method is extremely effective with adolescent and young adult addicts who are easily prone to negative or defensive emotions.