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

When you hear the word intervention, you most likely think of a group of people surprising an individual and trying to convince the individual to go to rehab. However, that is only one specific kind of intervention. There are other kinds of interventions. Before breaking down the different types of interventions, it is important to state the reasons why an intervention might be needed. In most cases, an intervention is needed because some form of destructive behavior is taking place. Whether it is in the form of substance abuse or other addictive behavior, when an individual is addicted, this chronic disease has a strong grip on the life of the addict. He or she may have even tried to stop this behavior on his or her own, but the harmful behavior continues. This is the primary reason for an intervention. The following is a breakdown of some of the most popular intervention models:

A Simple Intervention Is Personal and Direct

This approach is as simple as having one family member or friend talk to the individual struggling with addiction. He or she can ask the addict directly to stop using drugs or alcohol and to go to a rehab treatment program. An interventionist may be included in this process or not. It is up to the family member or friend. This straightforward, simple approach has been shown to be very successful. If you are planning a simple intervention, a good approach to use is to just be honest and sincere. This is often easier in this setting because it is so personal and there is not a large group of people present during this time. It likely is worth making notes or even rehearsing some of the key points that you want to discuss about the addiction. If you get emotional—and you likely will—it is harder to remember key points you want to discuss. Something as simple as jotting a few thoughts on a notecard can help. If you get emotional, ask to be excused just for a moment to collect your thoughts and glance at your notecards to refresh your mind. If you are concerned about this process, feel free to reach out to an interventionist to help you with the process.

Classical Intervention Is Based on the Johnson Model

A classical intervention is the most common form of intervention and is based on the Johnson Model. According to this source, Vernon Johnson was a priest who had the goal of helping all addicts achieve sobriety. In this form of intervention, the focus goes toward the addict, not the individuals who are being hurt as a result of the addict’s actions. The addict is often surprised with this method as well. Friends and family members typically read letters that focus on how much they care for the addicted individual and the letters also give a list of consequences if this abusive behavior continues. There are seven specific components of the Johnson Method including the following:

  • Selecting a team – In many cases, an interventionist is selected and then family members, friends, loved ones and coworkers are contacted about the upcoming intervention.
  • Planning ahead – Each team member then plans ahead on what will be said during the intervention.
  • Focusing on encouragement – This means not yelling at or putting down the addicted individual. An interventionist can play an important role here as he or she can help dictate the tone and establish what is acceptable behavior during the intervention.
  • Addiction is the topic – The topic to be discussed is addiction, nothing else from the past such as other bad choices or actions that have taken place.
  • Evidence is presented – The letters are to be detailed, and this becomes a form of evidence for what has taken place due to addiction.
  • The primary goal is treatment – The intended result is to have the addicted individual seek out treatment so he or she can start to live a sober life.
  • Treatment options are ready for the individual – This is an important step that the individual is given three different options for treatment.

Family System Intervention Focuses on Foundational Relationships

When several individuals in a family are addicted to drugs or alcohol, a family system intervention may be the best course of action. The goal of this type of intervention is to address the addiction, codependency and emotional issues that occur in families when one or more members are addicted to substance abuse. One of the primary differences between this approach and the classic intervention is that the family model includes a series of meetings over the course of two or three days. A Johnson model-based intervention may last for only a few hours. This approach can help entire families—not just one individual—and this also has the potential to help turn families into sober communities.

Crisis Intervention Is Used in Emergency Situations

When a crisis emerges in an addict’s life, it makes it clear to them and everyone else that rehab is necessary. Instead of taking time to plan out an organized intervention, the immediate goal is to bring some stability to the situation and optimize safety. For example, if an addict was involved in a traffic accident or an accident at the house. Rehab and treatment would soon follow after the intervention.

There are other intervention options such as the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s CollegeAIM a resource specifically focused on college and underage drinking and even the ARISE system for interventions. Whatever method of intervention is used, the end goal is for the addicted individual to receive treatment. If you would like to talk to one of our professional counselors about this process or to determine if an individual is addicted, please call our 24 hour, toll-free helpline. Reach out to get the help you need.

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