The concept of hosting an intervention for a loved one suffering from alcohol addiction or drug abuse is often played out in popular culture. When many think of intervention, they imagine luring an unsuspecting addict to a room filled with family and friends with the intention of confronting them about their addictive behavior. But there’s more to an intervention than just confrontation.
Here are five intervention methods that have proven effective for those dealing with the disease of addiction:
1. Johnson Model:
This is the most recognized model of intervention. As described above, the Johnson Model utilizes the element of surprise, where family and friends confront the addict with the help of an interventionist. With this type of intervention, the group often discusses the addict’s behavior and the harm they have caused themselves and those they love. The goal is to help the addict remove any sense of denial about their problem and offer support if they enroll in treatment. There is often a consequence or ultimatum in the event the addict refuses to go to recovery.
While it can be powerful for an addict to hear how they are affecting those around them, sometimes using pressure or invoking shame is not always the best tactic—as the addict does not feel they have control of the situation—often leading them to struggle through recovery and potentially relapse.
2. Invitation Model:
This style of intervention is similar to the Johnson model, except that it removes the element of surprise. Generally one friend or family member is asked to speak with the addict about finding help for addiction and then arranges a time for everyone to meet with an interventionist. The addict is fully aware of what will occur at the meeting and can decide whether they will attend or not.
Because this intervention is not a surprise, the addict is often less defensive and more willing to listen. However, it is always possible that the addict will choose not to attend a meeting with the interventionist. With this technique, family and friends are encourage to meet even if the addict refuses as it can help them understand where they may be contributing to the problem by acting as an enabler.
3. Field Model:
Named for the fact that the interventionist is free to make decisions “in the field” this method combines elements of both the invitational and Johnson interventions in the fact that this help for addiction can be planned or unexpected. This model is known for its flexibility and its ability to adapt to the situation at hand.
This method is often recommended in situations where the addict has the potential to react in a negative or even violent manner. It’s also useful for interventions that need to be staged quickly, with little time to prepare.
4. Systemic Model:
Interventions don’t always have to feel confrontational. Instead they can allow family and friends to place an emphasis on encouraging the addict that they can live without their alcohol or drug abuse. The systemic model also resists placing blame and shame on the addict and instead invites family and friends to discuss, in the presence of an interventionist or therapist, how they’ve all contributed to the addict’s continued substance abuse.
This method looks at addiction as a community problem, not just one that affects the addict themselves. It also lowers the likelihood that the addict will become upset or defensive. Because of this, adolescents often react positively to this intervention technique as they don’t feel they are being yelled at for a problem they no longer have control over.
5. Motivational Interviewing:
This intervention technique takes on more of a counseling approach and focuses on having a conversation with the addict about help for addiction in a way that encourages them to make positive behavioral changes. While other forms of intervention are more community based, this form focuses on the individual and their drug or alcohol abuse.
Through this method, a therapist or interventionist works to understand the addict’s point of view, offering empathy over judgment or shame. They work to build trust and create individualized goals around changing their addictive habits. While this approach is not intended to be confrontational, it can still provoke feelings of defense and self-denial.
Get Help Now
Regardless of the method of intervention that’s right for your loved one, it’s important to seek the guidance of a trained interventionist or therapist. The goal of every intervention is to help the addict see the potential for life outside alcohol or drug abuse, but this is just the first step. Learn more about helping your loved one begin the journey to recovery.