Types of Drug Interventions
There are many basic drug intervention options and different pre-planned routes for a family, friend or employer to take in approaching someone to get professional help. Drug interventions can be challenging—nobody likes confrontation. Approaching any touchy subject can be uncomfortable, but it is necessary to finally turn someone’s life around.
There are two main types of drug interventions:
- When the addict willingly sits down with loved ones
- A surprise drug intervention.
When an addict is somewhat willing if not committed to hearing the family out and communicate about their use of drugs, this is usually the opportunity for them to get help. This window may not be open for very long, so it is essential to take advantage of the moment with the addict.
A surprise drug intervention is when the addict is forced to sit down with family members or close ones and confronting their behavior. This is the more difficult approach– the addict may not be receptive to hearing about the detriments surrounding his or her drug use. Being the more aggressive strategy, addicts may not, initially, appreciate this conversation. This type of intervention is to admit to the fact that a drug problem exists and action needs to be taken to address the issue. Acknowledging the fact that the individual is not even aware he or she is ignoring the chaos all around is the first step in recognizing that a problem exists.
If addicts are in denial to the extent at which they continue to use and claim the problem is with the family or close one’s rather than themselves, committing the addict to the state by hospitalizing them may be in their best interest for their immediate safety.
Family interventions are staged to convince an individual to get help. Some family members may take the actions of the individual personally, and they can’t help it. Family members hurt because they don’t like witnessing their loved one harm his or herself with substance use. So, approaching the individual without judgment is necessary to convey your thoughts to them. Avoid telling the individual what they are doing, but tell them how you feel about the decisions he or she makes. You are not in control of the actions your loved one makes, but your feelings are valid. Let them know how it is affecting your life.
Emotions like anger, shame, or disappointment should be compartmentalized. These cannot afford to be in the drug intervention. Everyone is vulnerable in an intervention– any negative criticism can push the addict away from being present in the conversation and can, even, make the situation worse. Involving children may be a good idea—sometimes children can make the most profound statements. This may be the concern that the addict needs to recognize that will be the motivation for him or her to get help.
Intervening and treating an adolescent can be very tricky and it is essential to tread carefully. Young adults are in a stage of their life in which they are hormonal, snappy, hormonal and very moody. Even without substance use issues, many have problems in their relationships with family. This situation is far more delicate and it is vital to communicate with a specialist with experience in substance abuse, whether personal or professional. Drug interventionists know how to proceed with caution and prevent the risk of destroying relationships. Communicating the right way and moving very carefully through the conversation will avoid feelings of anger and disappointment which can destroy the bond between adolescents and their parents.
A peer worker or employer usually will stage a drug intervention. They are the step before the issue reaches human resources. It is essential to maintain confidentiality—the stigma of substance use can travel and rumors can blow out of proportion. Interventions without discretion may, ultimately, backfire and have the opposite effect on the individual with the problem and make the situation worse.
Managers can implement a work policy to prepare staff with such situations. Things like what signs to look for in the workplace culture with employees and behavioral changes can spot drug and/or alcohol use. Employees spend a lot of time with each other and can recognize when another employee’s work ethic is tarnishing. A workplace policy can detail how to go about intervening with an employee with a potential substance abuse problem. If that employee has an issue with the intervention—the answer is that it is just company policy to inquire. Hire a qualified drug intervention specialist who will know exactly what to do under the given circumstance of the addict.
The Johnson Intervention
This strategy is the forceful approach which convinces the addict of their actions and how those actions have led them to the “rock bottom” they’ve found themselves in. They have nowhere to turn but to get help. An addict’s defense is so strong that he or she will not be able to recognize a problem until it starts affecting them on a life-or-death level. Once they reach this state of crisis, they can finally take a look at themselves and take suggestions in turning their lives around. Though this approach is forceful, there should not be a sense of malice behind the drug intervention. No vengeful confrontation will ever help—no matter how much the addict has affected your life negatively, do not wish badly for them. This is the “tough love” intervention, and as difficult it may be, show them you are pursuing what you have to only because you love them.