Drug and Alcohol Intervention Guide

Learn how to create and conduct various types of interventions using different methods.

What Is an Intervention?

In a 2020 national survey, 15.4% of the United States’ population met the criteria for substance use disorder. After breaking this statistic down, it was found that 8.5% struggled with alcohol alone, 4.4% struggled with illicit drugs, and 2.4% struggled with both alcohol and illicit drugs. Of the 40 million people who suffer from this terrible disease, it is common for many to deny the consequences of their actions and be reluctant to seek help.

In these cases, a drug and alcohol intervention with a trained intervention specialist may be the best way to get them to seek the treatment they need. Substance abuse interventions are designed to help people see the consequences of their actions and teach family members how to best help their loved ones.

Interventions are a time-tested approach designed to influence people with substance use disorders to seek recovery. This treatment option is usually sought out by the family or significant other. Interventions are highly successful at convincing people with substance use disorders to enter treatment and can teach their friends and family the best way to support the person struggling as well as themselves in the process.

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Understanding Interventions

Early Intervention

People often seek treatment for substance use disorders only after a catastrophic event, hospitalization, or severe consequence that influenced a change of heart. Early intervention is conducted to stop substance use in its tracks before the individual encounters debilitating consequences and harms of sustained substance use.
When speaking of substance use disorders, people often refer to a “rock bottom” moment when somebody is finally willing to seek help. Nonetheless, the idea that a person needs to hit rock bottom before recovery is a myth—one that can result in people needlessly harming themselves instead of seeking treatment. Early intervention can help people quit substance use before suffering significant legal, social, or medical consequences.

Who Should Perform an Intervention?

Interventions are typically initiated by family members, significant others, friends, or coworkers of the person with substance use disorder. Usually, a drug and alcohol intervention specialist is sought out to help guide the intervention.
It’s typically not advisable to stage a large-scale intervention without the help of a trained professional, as it can quickly go awry and cause severe distress to the individual, potentially increasing substance use and the likelihood of avoiding those who performed the intervention.

Interventionists have specialized training and certifications to manage the people involved and give the person suffering the best chance of recovery.

Timing an Intervention

Interventions are best suited for helping people with substance use disorders who are either in denial about their problems or have already denied treatment. There is no reason to wait until a crisis occurs to begin the intervention process.
An intervention can help people at any stage of drug or alcohol misuse. Some key signs to look for if someone is having problems with substance use include:
  • Lack of interest in activities outside drug or alcohol use
  • Trouble maintaining relationships or responsibilities
  • Continued use despite negative consequences
  • Signs of physical withdrawal when not under the influence
  • Their life seems to revolve around substance use
  • Unexplained financial insecurity or need for money
If your loved one is exhibiting these signs or others indicative of substance use disorder, now is the time for an intervention. Alcohol or substance use disorders are highly treatable, and recovery is possible.2

Types of Interventions

There are several types of interventions, from simply sitting down with your loved one to recruiting professional help. We’ve outlined the main types of intervention to help you determine which best suits your needs.

Simple Interventions

Sometimes, simple is best. The simple intervention is just sitting down with the person struggling and asking them to accept help. This style can be conducted alone or with the help of a trained interventionist.

Classical Interventions

When most people picture an intervention, they imagine the classical intervention. Often based on the Johnson Model, a classical alcohol and drug intervention gathers a group of family and friends and prepares them for intervening in the life of the person struggling with substance use. This style is typically carried out unbeknownst to the user and can have a powerful effect.
In the classical intervention, the interventionist has time to prepare friends and family for what’s to come. For example, they can provide coaching, support, and guidance in what can be a rather dramatic and intense experience.
Interventionists will also ensure that the members initiating the intervention do not take any actions that might interfere with the desired goal of having the individual enter treatment. The priority is to help them transition or seek care.

Family System Intervention

A family system intervention is distinct because it views the whole family as needing change rather than solely the person struggling with substance use disorder. Substance use disorder affects the entire family, and in turn, families can drive substance use. So, family system interventions aim to treat the whole family by holding everyone accountable for their actions and healing the family unit.
Family system interventions are best suited when significant codependence or severely disrupted communication occurs between family members. A family system interventionist brings the whole family together to heal these bonds and encourage the individual to seek help.

Crisis Intervention

Often, the interventions mentioned above aren’t applicable because the person is already in crisis. When somebody presents a tangible danger to themselves or others, crisis intervention teams are there to ensure the safety of everybody involved.

Typical crises requiring this intervention are drug-induced psychosis, suicide attempts, or attempted violence. Crisis intervention teams prioritize the safety of everybody involved while helping guide people in crisis towards recovery.

Intervention Methods

Intervention services vary in their approach on how to help the person with substance use disorder. Some are more confrontational, while others emphasize collaboration and compassion. Below, we’ve described the main intervention models and how they aim to help your loved one seek recovery.

drug intervention

The Johnson Model

The Johnson Model is the most well-known intervention model, where a trained interventionist confronts the substance user with a team of loved ones. This style of drug and alcohol intervention, on its face, is directly oppositional—everyone is there for the primary goal of sending the person to rehab. More importantly, the Johnson Model emphasizes caring and compassion from family and friends to show the individual with substance use disorder how their actions affect others.3
Preparation with friends and family is critical with the Johnson Model. When the problem gets presented openly and plainly, it often encourages the individual to seek treatment. The goal is not to make them feel ashamed but to show the consequences of their actions and outline how things will change—whether they seek treatment or continue their substance use.

Addiction is the only problem addressed during the Johnson Model drug intervention; other issues are outside the scope and goal of this model. People with substance use disorder who agree to seek help during the intervention go to a drug or alcohol intervention program where they will receive treatment to help them overcome their addiction.

The Love First Approach

The Love First intervention was created by clinician Jeff Jay and his wife, Debra. This approach is similar to the Johnson Model, with extensive preparation with a drug and alcohol intervention specialist. It also requires meeting with the individual struggling with addiction and reading prepared letters to encourage treatment.4

The Love First approach distinguishes itself as compassionate and caring. Seeking drug and alcohol treatment is a team effort on behalf of the family and support group—everyone is encouraged to provide long-lasting support to the person who needs treatment. The Love First approach aims to build a supportive network for those who need help, enabling them to feel strong and confident in their recovery.

ARISE Intervention

The ARISE intervention distinguishes itself by incorporating the person with substance use disorder into the very first step of the intervention. After contacting a drug and alcohol intervention specialist about an ARISE intervention, they’ll form a team consisting of family, friends, and the individual. There are no surprises, ambushes, or gatherings where the person who needs help is unaware.
This approach eliminates the “aggressive” or confrontational nature of interventions. Instead, it is an invitational approach, allowing the person struggling with substance use disorder to claim agency over their lives and be a part of the treatment planning stages.

Three Stages of ARISE

The ARISE intervention has three stages:
  1. The First Call: In the initial stage, the family or support network reaches out to an ARISE drug and alcohol intervention specialist. The treatment coalition is formed, including the individual in question.
  2. Strength in Numbers: The second stage of the ARISE intervention is the first time the treatment group meets together. This is when the group discusses the options for treatment and how everyone thinks they should proceed. There can be several meetings in this phase, and the individual can enter treatment in each.
  3. The Formal ARISE Intervention: The final phase of the ARISE intervention closely resembles other intervention styles. This is the group’s last meeting, where consequences are put into place if treatment is refused. Since this meeting and the outcomes outlined have been discussed in previous meetings, nothing comes as a surprise.
According to information from ARISE, 56% of people agree to seek treatment by stage one, 80% by stage two, and 83% by stage three.5

In addition, the ARISE intervention incorporates continuing care—the group continues to meet and discuss how they can best support the person struggling with substance use disorder in their recovery.

CRAFT Intervention

CRAFT stands for Community Reinforcement and Family Training. The CRAFT intervention is a non-confrontational intervention style, which believes that positive input from family members and concerned significant others can help motivate people with substance use disorder to seek treatment. CRAFT interventions emphasize the community around them rather than the person struggling with addiction.
A study investigating the effectiveness of CRAFT showed that people struggling with substance use disorder had a 67% chance of attending treatment after their community members attended meetings.6

How Do I Initiate an Intervention?

There are several steps to starting intervention for your loved one, which we’ve outlined in detail below.

Understanding the Impact of Addiction

Research Treatment Options

The first step is looking for substance use treatment centers or intervention specialists that can provide help for your loved one. Looking for the right treatment program takes a bit of research since you want to find treatment centers that provide evidence-based practices and a compassionate, comfortable environment.7 A dual diagnosis program may be beneficial if it is believed that a mental disorder is affecting your loved one alongside addiction.

Interventionists may be affiliated with a particular program or have resources available to help you find appropriate treatment. Make sure to consider whether your loved one needs dual-diagnosis treatment (treatment that emphasizes treating mental illness and substance use disorders) or specialized medical care.

Form the Intervention Team

After contacting an interventionist or treatment center, it’s time to form the intervention team. The intervention team is the supportive unit that helps guide the person misusing substances into treatment and provides compassion and reassurance.

The Person Struggling with Addiction

The individual with substance use disorder is a crucial component of the team. Remember that this person is battling a disease that affects the mind, so show compassion and understanding for their position when possible. Depending on the intervention style, the individual is either included in the whole process or only brought in after you’ve made preparations.

Friends and Family

Friends and family make up the supportive network that can show the individual the consequences of their actions. Interventions are most effective when this group includes the closest people to those struggling with addiction, so a distant relative or casual acquaintance can be counterproductive.

A Professional Interventionist

The professional interventionist provides the framework for the intervention process and support for family members and the person suffering. They are a valuable resource and have specialized training that makes them highly effective at helping people to seek treatment.
When looking for a professional interventionist, you should inquire after the certifications that prove they have the training required for this task. Treatment centers can often help you locate an interventionist, or you can find them via personal recommendations at local support groups or among family or friends.

Making an Intervention Plan

With the help of your interventionist, you can begin to plan the intervention itself. This usually takes place in four steps:

Gather Information

Information gathering helps the interventionist understand the particular nuances of the person with an addiction. For example, they can learn what motivates them, whether they require specific care, and better predict how the intervention will occur.

Write Impact Statements

Impact statements are prepared before the intervention and designed to show the person with substance use disorder how their actions affected themselves and the people around them. This can help break down denial about substance use and inspire them to seek help.

Decide on Specific Consequences

Enabled addiction is comfortable. Interventions are effective precisely because they show that actions have consequences. Most interventions require loved ones to outline a specific set of outcomes that will occur if the person refuses help.
After all, if nothing changes around them, they might have no reason to desire to change.

Manage Expectations and Risks

While the vast majority of alcohol and drug interventions are successful, there is always the possibility of refused treatment. Therefore, you need to be prepared to follow through on the consequences you’ve outlined.
Often, the person misusing substances refuses treatment because they doubt whether these consequences will occur. Regardless, these consequences are often necessary for mental health and independence, leaving you in a better position to help the ones you love.

Why Choose Concise Recovery?

Why Choose Concise Recovery?
Concise Recovery can help you find a drug intervention program and ensure that your loved one receives the highest quality of care. We offer time-tested, evidence-based treatments for people suffering from substance use disorder in several locations across Los Angeles, California. Choosing treatment here means your loved one will be entering a flourishing recovery community with trained addiction specialists.
We offer the following treatment programs designed to give your loved one the best chances of recovery:
When you’re ready to take action in helping your loved one recover, reach out to our team of addiction specialists to begin an intervention or start treatment straight away.

Our treatment model emphasizes treating the root cause of addiction and can help stop it in its tracks. Healing is possible at Concise Recovery. Help your loved one start their new life in recovery today with our compassionate team of addiction specialists by their side.