How to Carry Out a Substance Abuse Intervention

How to Carry Out a Substance Abuse Intervention

More often than not, a loved one places an individual addicted to alcohol or drugs into an alcohol and drug treatment program without much of their consent. With this comes lots of consequence that too often isn’t considered. Due to the fact that the addicted individual doesn’t want to make the change for themselves, there’s too likely of a chance of drug and alcohol relapse.

The only way to assure that alcohol and drug treatment will work is when the individual wants the change for himself/herself. Without this desire, they lack the motivation to go down the rough (but rewarding) path of alcohol and drug recovery. Even though it can be very difficult to give someone this motivation, it is possible. And it’s possible through an intervention.

The purpose of intervention is to help these individuals realize their need for alcohol and drug treatment. This can be done solely through the emotional offering of loved ones.

The Confrontational


This is the most direct form of an alcohol or drug intervention one can find. Just as the name implies, it’s an encounter that involves changing the addict’s frame of mind. For some time, the confrontational intervention was done as a means of punishment. Everyone involved would point out the addict’s flaws and criticize until some kind of emotion came out. Punishment being viewed as a means of focus until the individual changed his or her ways.

Now, these flaws are viewed more as an illness. And instead of criticism, there is meant to be a sense of support in the confrontation. This is one of the most widely acclaimed methods of drug and alcohol intervention and generally the go-to for many supporters looking to change their loved one. It’s been studied that addicted individuals genuinely react better to a confrontation that remains positive rather than negative.

The reason for this is many don’t want to be blamed for their life decisions. Though some of this might occur, they’d rather feel optimism when coming out of the intervention. A positive point-of-view that their lives have a chance to change and flourish in any direction they can dream.

This is the desired outcome of a successful intervention. How to go about it will be different for different families and friends. However, there are a few aspects that remain the same.

  1. Make a note as to where the addicted individual has gone wrong (without placing blame).
  2. Inform them that you have strong hope for their potential.
  3. Offer alcohol and drug treatment options.
  4. Make sure they never forget the support you will always offer on their journey.

The Johnson Model


Though there are some relatable aspects of the confrontational intervention, the Johnson Model holds one distinct difference. The idea behind this kind of intervention is to highly educate loved ones and supporter of the addict’s situation. With this, it’s also important to bring to mind how the addict should be confronted and how to find him or her help.

The Johnson Model intervention generally requires multiple meetings as a way of digging into the individual’s frame of mind. Due to this, a drug and alcohol mental health professional is often ideal as they will know the direction in which to take the conversation. With a substance abuse professional and multiple interventions, there’s a likely chance that the addict will feel less of a need to defend themselves. And more of a desire to open up about their problem.

Tough Love


There are many instances where the loved ones of a drug and alcohol addict are too afraid to say no. With this kind of easy-going attitude, the addicted individual often gets him/herself further into a drug and alcohol addiction without feeling any sense of consequence. This is ideal for family members with the desperate desire to get the addict into alcohol and drug intensive inpatient and outpatient treatment, but who’s also unsure as to how to carry this out.

However, it should be noted that this is often a last resort intervention method. The reason being is that there are plenty of instances where the addict ends up feeling a backlash from those who care – as though he/she is being punished and blamed. Therefore, the addicted individual ends up pushing himself further away from loved ones and further into drug and alcohol addiction.

A trained substance use professional is highly suggested for the Tough Love method. Within the method, lots of threats will be made towards the addicted individual. These heavy threats need to be followed through if the addict doesn’t comply. If not, then there’s the sense that the loved one doesn’t really know what he/she is doing. An alcohol and drug counselor can guide these threats and reassure that they will be followed through on.

The purpose of Tough Love is to limit all resources you provide to the individual until alcohol and drug treatment is seriously considered. These resources can include money, around-the-house tasks, or even the shelter you’re providing.

With a substance use professional helping the loved one throughout this intervention, they can also help out the addicted individual. For the Tough Love method often leaves them feeling victimized and in a situation where no one is truly there for them. The professional alcohol and drug counselor may need to be the one there.

As you can see, this isn’t something most loved ones want to go through and should only be done as a last resort.

The Crisis


The purpose of this type of intervention is fairly obvious. It’s meant for individuals going through an emergency situation – in an example, someone who’s just overdosed. Though the height of the emergency holds importance to the decision, most of the time, alcohol and drug treatment is necessary as immediately as possible.

There’s a problem underlying the crisis that’s mentioned in the introduction. If the addicted individual doesn’t desire to enter alcohol and substance use treatment, then this immediacy may seem entirely useless. For these kinds of situations, you might want to get a substance abuse professional involved in the intervention itself. Professionals specializing in alcohol and drug use hold the capability of getting individuals evaluated for commitment.

As you will assume, there are still occasions where individuals aren’t in the right frame of mind to be entering alcohol and drug treatment. However, if he or she is in a position of harming themselves or others around them, force may be necessary. It’s not the ideal way to go about substance use treatment, but unfortunately, for some people, it’s absolutely necessary.

The reason being is addicted individuals are highly prone to mental disorders. With this comes a risk for suicide. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, ninety percent of suicide victims are mentally ill. As claimed by Helpguide, fifty percent of people who suffer from mental health abuse some kind of substance.

Still, the cause of a crisis goes beyond mental health. There are instances that will appear in anyone’s life that can throw them into a state of emergency – heavy financial problems, legal issues, homelessness, etc.

To top it off, the crisis could be stemming into other people’s lives rather than the addict’s. In an example, a pill-addicted mother may be ignorant towards her child.

The crisis intervention is without a doubt the most difficult kind to handle – crises are never expected. Therefore, gather together the necessary loved ones to have the intervention with may be very short notice and unplanned. With that, it is suggested you get an alcohol and drug counselor involved in setting up the dialogue of conversation. This will guarantee that what needs to be said will be conversed and the possibility of alcohol and drug treatment will be the dominant topic.

The ARISE Method


According to the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, the ARISE method works about eighty-three percent of the time. Patients who receive this form of alcohol and drug intervention often feel moved by it for an important reason. It incorporates both direct and indirect models of intervention.

As opposed to the confrontational or Tough Love method – in which an addicted individual is ridiculed for their behavior – the ARISE method seeks to solve the addiction problem. Involving both the loved ones and the addicted individual through both of their perspectives. The entire focus of the method is to create a better family, not a better individual.

Once the addicted individual agrees to go to alcohol and drug treatment, all loved ones involved in the intervention must experience a treatment of their own. Generally, it’s some form of counseling that teaches loved ones to manage their lives around the addict. With that, the loved ones will be expected to learn how to help their addict after treatment and how to cure any negative wounds produced by the drug and alcohol addiction.

Often, the ARISE method is planned in advance and has the potential to go through a couple of meetings. These interventions are meant to encourage addicted individuals while educating family members too.

Is an Intervention Right for You?


There are many occasions where addicted individuals don’t need an intervention to realize they need drug and alcohol treatment. Sometimes, it just hits them at the right moment of their lives. The necessity for a change becomes overwhelmingly dominant.

Yet, there remain plenty of cases where an addicted individual is in denial over the harm they are doing to others and themselves. And these are typically the addicted individuals that need an alcohol and drug intervention. There’s the common occurrence that an individual doesn’t even realize they have a problem with alcohol and/or drugs until somebody brings it up.

If you or anyone you love is seeking an intensive outpatient treatment program or are just seeking more information on interventions, Stonewall Institute Treatment Center is glad to help. Please, give us a call today at (602) 535 6468 or email us at

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