What’s the Difference Between the Different Types of Interventions?

Addiction has an uncanny ability to distort an addict’s perception of her situation. Substance abuse changes the psychological function of the brain in such a powerful way that most addicts are simply unable to comprehend just how dangerous and hurtful their conditions have become for both themselves and those around them. For this reason, many addicts require confrontation to seek the help they need; in the recovery world, these confrontations are called “interventions,” and they take many forms.

While each intervention type has unique aspects, they all tend to adhere to the following principles:

  • The addict has a problem he is unable or unwilling to recognize
  • This addiction is hurting both the addict and his loved ones
  • A community of people is available and willing to support the addict’s recovery
  • Specific opportunities for treatment are available and accessible
  • The time to get help is now

The following types of interventions work best for unique situations.

Simple Intervention

An intervention can be as simple as a direct conversation between the addict and a concerned loved one, which is called a simple intervention. This conversation should still include certain elements that a trained professional can help you understand. It comes as a great surprise to many people how effective a simple, yet focused conversation can be.

Classical Intervention

Many addicts require a more organized and confrontational meeting than a simple conversation, which is where classical interventions come in. Most often directed by a trained interventionist, these meetings include significant pre-intervention preparation and a strategized plan that everyone develops before meeting with the addict. Several classical interventions exist based upon the particulars of each situation.

Johnson’s Approach

In the early 1970s, Dr. Vernon Johnson, an Episcopal priest, developed a fairly radical and well-formed approach to addiction intervention. He outlined his approach in the popular book, I’ll Quit Tomorrow, which discusses many of the elements that comprise many of today’s intervention method. What set Johnson’s approach apart from traditional interventions was that it focused on love, support, evidence, candor and encouragement and less on negative emotions, hostility and confrontation. Johnson outlined specific preparations for an intervention, including having family members write letters to the addict that articulate how the disease has affected them. Again, elements of Johnson’s approach can be found in almost all types of intervention today, a fact that testifies to how effective this measure can be.

Family Intervention

Unfortunately, more than one member of a family usually struggles with addiction, because family members often learn harmful ways for dealing with trauma, stress, abuse and/or neglect from loved ones. For instance, if a child watches her mother handle stress with substance abuse, rage and physical abuse, then she may do the same in the future. In these situations, a broader intervention form may be required, and specially trained therapists can help families identify harmful habits to change. These professionals can also develop new systems that promote healing and sobriety.

Voluntary Intervention

When an individual suspects that he may have a substance abuse problem, then a voluntary intervention can be highly effective. These environments do not involve confrontation nor surprise, but they focus on surrounding the addict with love, support, encouragement and specific treatment options in a safe environment.

Commercial or Workplace Intervention

Drug and alcohol abuse is a major problem in the workplace, so professional or commercial interventions are becoming more common. These interventions will necessarily have a different focus and always be administered by a licensed professional, but, when someone is forced to realize that her substance abuse is jeopardizing her career, then she may seek the help she needs.

Youth Intervention

Many parents become overwhelmed when they confront their child who is already or at risk of being addicted to drugs or alcohol, so youth interventions are specially designed to address substance abuse issues in young people. Boundaries are established or reinforced, and the young person is informed of the potential repercussions of continued drug abuse. In some cases, these interventions may occur in combination with youth detention services.

Professional Intervention Assistance

Interventions have been represented on television and in films in both comical and dramatic ways. A wealth of information about interventions is also available in books and on the Internet, which may lead concerned family members to conduct their own interventions without professional help. Unfortunately, these endeavors almost always end badly, because addiction is a powerfully emotional issue that causes deep hurts and frustrations. Ergo, interventions are extremely risky and rarely follow the expectations of those involved. For those reasons, seek a professional interventionist for the following help:

  • Choose the right people to involve
  • Prepare for the event with planning, education and counseling
  • Develop a specific plan for every possible outcome
  • Guidance during the intervention
  • Post-event support for all involved

If you would like more information about professional interventions, or if you want to be connected to an interventionist who is specifically trained for your situation, then please call our toll-free helpline now. Our admissions coordinators are standing by 24 hours a day, so seek help now to begin recovery as soon as possible.

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