No child living within a healthy environment grows up believing that drugs and alcohol should be a staple in their lives in order for them to experience happiness. The problem with drug abusers and alcohol addicts is that they are often deemed unworthy by society and grow older with an immense sense of self-hate attached to themselves.
Hating oneself is never healthy. Anyone who is in a healthy state of mind will tell you this.
However, drug and alcohol abusers often experience severe levels of shame as a result of their addiction. As a result, they sometimes dive deeper into the addiction because they feel like society has labeled them as irredeemable.
Their drugs and alcohol become a staple in their lives, an escape of sorts from the harsh expectations of reality. The truth is that many people in their immediate environment will judge them for their addiction but refuse to understand that addictions are not natural – they often stem from negative past experiences, exposure to substances, or physiological or psychological health conditions.
For people with addictions, nobody is beyond repair, and everyone deserves kindness. This belief may encourage loved ones to stage an intervention for an addict within their close circles. The first step is to create an organic, non-judgmental environment, a safe space for the addict to open up and accept the love and support that their community wants to give them.
You may be wondering: are there different types of interventions? The answer is yes! One can use many excellent intervention techniques to convince their addicted friend or family member to get the help they need and deserve.
Top 3 Drug Intervention Techniques
Below is a collection of efficient methods you can employ to help your loved one out. They may be suffering from a severe or moderate addiction. The intensity doesn’t matter. What’s important is that the caregiver makes the receiver feel worthy of their attention.
1. Johnson Intervention
This is, by far, one of the most well-known methods to help addicts combat their addictions. Introduced in the 1960s, the Johnson Intervention seeks to create a safe space for addicts.
Within this space, the victims of drug and alcohol addiction are then confronted with a conversation that will help them understand the true nature of their problem.
This conversation is set to address the following:
- An understanding of why addiction can be harmful
- How the addiction is hurting them (both the community and the individual)
- Why treatment is essential and can be an effective way out
- Potential complications that may arise if the issue is neglected
This method is considered to be the most effective one out there. These questions are traditional ones that address the problem in a straightforward manner. At the same time, it is essential that these questions be asked in a safe environment that is free of judgment.
A close friend or relative will ask these questions. They will also have to walk the addict through the process, navigating the conversation, and steering it back to the main topic if it ever goes off course. Sometimes, a professional may lend assistance, too.
Such conversations are often pre-rehearsed and follow a strict pre-set outline. While the dialogue is somewhat malleable as the patient’s answers will vary from case to case, it is also important that it follows the predetermined pattern to achieve the desired results.
At the end of a successful conversation, the patient should understand why their addiction is harmful and agree to pursue treatment.
The Johnson Intervention method gained popularity when it was advertised on a TV program called Intervention. This show emphasized professional psychotherapists and using the Johnson method to address their patients’ addictions.
The patient’s loved ones were also included in the process. Millions of people watched this show. As a result, the method gained positive attention from clinics and addicts in search of help all across the globe.
The Johnson Intervention method includes the use of heartfelt letters written by the addict’s friends and family members. These letters include the following:
- Reminders of the person’s “old self” before they began using drugs or abusing alcohol
- Specific instances where the addict may have harmed themselves as a result of drug or alcohol abuse
- Statements showing love and support for the individual. This will help encourage them to choose a drug-free lifestyle. It can also help them believe in themselves and empower them to fight their addiction.
- Encouragement for the affected individual to choose to get the help they need. A treatment plan or rehab center’s location may also be stated.
- The dark side of things; what may happen if the victim refuses to seek help
Each letter is read out by the family member or friend without responding to anything the addict may have to say during that time period. The intervention process reaches an end when the addict chooses to accept help or when all the available letters have been read out.
The Johnson Intervention method can help drug and alcohol abusers face their fears in a safe, non-judgmental environment. Often, addicts are stooped in denial and will refuse help when offered. However, after listening to these letters, they may realize how badly their family is affected. This might be enough to convince them to seek help.
The letters also aim to allow the affected person to understand that there is a way out and that their loved ones love them back, too.
However, many people fear confrontation. This includes the addict as well as their loved ones. Hence, this method may be overwhelming for some families.
Luckily, there are a set of other effective intervention methods one can try out, too.
2. ARISE Interventions
What is this method about? Well, the name says it all: ARISE stands for “A Relational Intervention Sequence for Engagement.”
This method includes the person’s initial consent. This is because the researchers behind this method strongly believed that an addict might react negatively if confronted without prior consent or information. The Johnson method sometimes includes addicts being approached without them fully knowing what the method’s goals are until the last minute.
In some cases, an addict participating in an ARISE intervention may contribute to planning their own intervention to a certain degree.
This method employs a concept called “motivational interviewing.” Many feel this method is more comfortable than confrontational intervention, as displayed in the Johnson method.
Motivational interviewing is based upon gentle motivational conversation. It aims to convince the addict to seek help. This suggestion is supported by helping the addict understand how badly their addiction is affecting them and their loved ones and what may happen if they don’t seek immediate help.
The ARISE intervention has three levels. The intervention ceases at whichever level works first.
- Level 1: Known as “The First Call,” this level begins when one of the addict’s loved ones reaches out to a certified ARISE expert for guidance. This consultation is often free and takes place over the phone. It aims to teach the caller how to gather a group of people who care about the addict and how they can work together to motivate the addict to seek help.
- Level 2: “Strength in Numbers” seeks to create a “Family Board of Directors.” The entire network of loved ones reaches out to the addict together, and no one-on-one conversations are allowed. These meetings are helpful a few times (usually up to five times) till the addict agrees to cooperate and seek help.
- Level 3: This level is known as “The Formal ARISE Intervention” and is implemented if the first two fail. At this level, a set of severe consequences and restrictions are brought forth if the addict refuses help. Usually, the addict accepts to seek professional help in order to avoid these negative consequences.
3. The “Love First” Approach
This is another brilliant confrontational method people use despite being less common than the other two; many people strongly believe in this approach.
The Love First method is categorized as “confrontational intervention,” similar to the Johnson method. It takes place in a safe, caring, and non-judgmental environment and seeks to earn the addict’s trust. The setting is generally staged by people who deeply care about the addict. This includes family members and close friends.
The first segment of this process includes the family members refuting any argument the addict may put forward to justify their avoidance in seeking professional help. For example, if the addict says that the reason behind them not seeking professional help or joining rehab is that they have to take care of their children, the family members may inform the addict that they have arranged for appropriate childcare.
This method includes the use of letters, too, similar to the Johnson method. After the first segment, these letters are read out in the second segment. This is the most critical step in the method.
Every letter must follow a strict format yet feel organic and genuinely caring. Without compassion, these letters are of no use. Love for the addict and acceptance of their flaws should be the core theme. However, these letters should also express concern for the drug abuser’s condition and encourage them to seek the help they need.
The letters must contain reminders of positive memories that will help the addict connect with their loved ones. It should also end with supportive reinforcements reminding the addict of their strength.
Who Can Hold an Intervention?
Usually, it’s an individual’s close family that holds these interventions, regardless of whether they are brief interventions or intense ones. The benefit of having a set of family members conduct these interventions is that the addict may generally feel safer with them. Family members are also usually some of the few people who care deeply enough to encourage the addict to seek help.
In some cases, the addict may begin to use drugs or abuse alcohol because of severe problems with their family members. In such cases, close friends or significant loved ones may be expected to conduct the intervention.
However, there are individual ethics involved in this process. The friends may want to consider letting the addict’s family in on their plans for intervention. However, whether or not they agree to do this varies on a case-to-case basis. There is no strict correct way to go about it.
In some scenarios, an employer may stage the intervention. This generally happens when the employing company notices a sudden or gradual deterioration of the employee’s performance. They may notice some or all of the following signs:
- Aggression towards colleagues
- Negative reviews from clients
- Repeated absences without an explanation
- Failure in passing drug screening tests
- Newfound poor performance at tasks at which they were previously excelling (or even just completing)
If an employer notices such behavior, they should take it as a clear sign that their employee may be experiencing severe addiction. If it is discovered that the employee really is an addict, they should either contact the employee’s loved ones for help or stage an intervention themselves on behalf of the company.
The method chosen should depend upon a number of factors, including how long the employee has been working for them, how well they know the employee’s history, and how close the employee is with their family and friends.
Many companies have a human resource department dedicated to handling such scenarios. If the company has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), they should make full use of that, too.
The sooner an addict receives help, the better it will be for them, their loved ones, and their career. Early intervention is the best intervention. Therefore, one should try and stage an intervention as soon as they notice someone close to them facing a drug or alcohol abuse problem.
The methods highlighted above are excellent and have been proven time and time again to be extremely useful in convincing addicts to seek help. Remember, though, to do all things with kindness and remind the drug addict that they, too, deserve a better and brighter future.
Date Published: December 23, 2020 Last Updated: September 1, 2023
Allison Johnson is the Director of Compliance for Stonegate Center. She is a recovered alcoholic and addict with over 7 years sober. Her experience in residential treatment extends to her love of all things compliance and quality assurance.