Successful interventions share certain characteristics. There are steps that can help increase the odds for a positive outcome.
An intervention[i] is an organized event designed to encourage someone with drug or alcohol problems to seek treatment. The methods used by the people who stage these events can have a major impact on their success. While some organizers are able to create an effective plan on their own, most people will benefit from consulting some sort of addiction specialist beforehand.
Roughly one out of every 12 Americans over the age of 11 has a serious drug or alcohol problem. However, only about 20 percent of those affected seek help on their own[ii].
There are many reasons why someone dealing with substance abuse/addiction might avoid treatment. A big factor is the loss of control over substance intake associated with addiction. In addition, a person whose brain has grown accustomed to excessive drug or alcohol consumption will develop withdrawal symptoms if that consumption comes to an end. Any substance abuser who has experienced even short-term exposure to those symptoms may have no intention of undergoing them again voluntarily.
As a rule, people need help for substance-related problems when those problems interfere with the ability to maintain a stable daily routine and meet important obligations[iii]. Specific issues an outside observer may notice include:
The staging of an intervention doesn’t have to wait until an affected person shows extensive signs of abuse or addiction. In fact, people who receive help while their problems are still relatively mild have a greater chance of regaining their sobriety while in treatment.
Successful interventions share certain characteristics. Steps that help increase the odds for a positive outcome include:
Professional help can go a long way toward increasing the chances for intervention success. People capable of providing the needed help include addiction specialists, intervention consultants, psychiatrists or psychologists and social workers. Whatever their specific backgrounds, professionals can assess the overall situation, give important advice on how to proceed and help determine which types of follow-up treatment make the most sense.
While a professional consultation can improve the outcome of any intervention, this type of help is crucial in certain situations. Specific concerns that make an expert’s advice indispensable include[iv]:
Not everyone who wants to join an intervention team is suited to do so. People to exclude include anyone who may lose self-control during the event, anyone with their own unaddressed drug or alcohol problems, and anyone who might purposefully hinder the chance for a successful outcome. In addition, avoid including anyone who might draw a strong, negative response from the target of the intervention.
Doctors and other medical professionals can also help halt a slide into diagnosable substance abuse or addiction through a structured approach called brief intervention[v]. During brief intervention, patients gain information about the harms associated with excessive drug and alcohol use. They also learn steps they can take to alter their behavior and avoid serious problems.
As noted, advance treatment planning is a recognized benefit for intervention success. People who have mild or moderate symptoms of substance abuse/addiction may receive treatment in an outpatient or intensive outpatient program. However, people with moderate-to-severe symptoms may need to enroll in a residential treatment program, instead.
Addiction specialists and other consultants can help determine which level of care makes the most sense on a case-by-case basis. At Transformations Treatment Center, we feature a broad array of treatment options, including our intensive outpatient program, for people dealing with substance use disorders.