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Interventions in Recovery Programs

You’re watching your loved one’s life spin out of control due to addiction. There are nights you wake up in sweat or don’t sleep at all—you’re worried you might get “the call.”

You tried pleading with him one-on-one or in small gatherings. It hasn’t turned out well. Emotions flared and dagger-like words flung. You left defeated and further away from your goal than when you started.

You’re not alone.

Many families try to stage one-off interventions themselves, and do so unsuccessfully. Separating your loved one from their addiction requires an intervention that is structured and strategic. That doesn’t come easy to most families, especially when there is a lot of trauma and impact from their loved one’s addiction. But here’s what you have to look forward to when you take the step with a trained specialist.  

What is an Intervention and How is it Staged?

An intervention is simply a coordinated heart-to-heart between you and your loved one that is guided by an intervention specialist who helps families express their feelings constructively, in a manner that can effectively penetrate the his barriers.

The professional takes in your experience with your loved one’s addiction and intimate knowledge you have of him. You are in the learning seat as well, gathering information about addiction and recovery so that you can be in a place of empathy.

These insights are combined with strategies or program elements to carefully determine—before the event—what points and emotional undertones it will take to cause a breakthrough. The strategy, often including pre-written testimonies, is then rehearsed and perfected, taking into account all plausible outcomes such as denial and outbursts.

On intervention day, you will be in a familiar, comforting environment (e.g. home) that gives your loved one ease—and you’ll do it at a time when he is sober. Over the next half hour to an hour and a half, your loved one will come up close with just how their addiction has fractured their lives and the lives of everyone around them. You’ll also spell out consequences you’re willing to enforce if he doesn’t receive help and stick with it.

These tactics, studies have found, can be jolting enough to begin the road to recovery.

When is an Intervention Necessary?

Chances are, if you’re reading this, you know an intervention is warranted.

Your loved one’s social circles are dwindling, their finances are in shambles, and jobs have been lost. They’re aggressive, constantly borrowing money, engaging in secretive behavior, withering away physically, appear hopeless and fatigued, and are displaying unusual health issues. They may even be depressed or struggling with an eating disorder like anorexia.

Who Should Be at an Intervention

Anyone your loved one likes, loves, respects or depends on should be considered for the intervention. This could be four to six people, and may include a best friend, sibling, parent, religious affiliate.

Who the group shouldn’t comprise of are any persons who could potentially sabotage the intervention. Everyone involved should be mentally stable and not dealing with an active substance abuse problem themselves. You all should also be at a place where you can follow the strategies laid out by your specialist, and this means limiting what you say based on what was agreed upon during planning.

Programs Available to Help Plan and Mediate Interventions

Both inpatient and outpatient treatment programs include specialists who can help you plan and mediate your intervention. The goal of intervention, as we know, is to get your loved one into a full program where they can be treated from the inside out—regardless of whether they stay at the facility or not.

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment offers a monitored environment where he can safely detox under medical supervision and receive 24/7 care and support.

Medical watch and detox take anywhere from days to weeks depending on the substance. During this time, special attention is on pain-management, reducing cravings, and stabilizing his body and mind as it withdraws itself from drugs or alcohol.

Once clean, he transitions into behavioral health treatment and substance abuse treatment.

The entirety of his stay may be anywhere from 30-90 days, even longer. Length depends on the severity of the addiction, whether a co-existing mental health condition is present, and whether rehab has been attempted before.

Over his stay, he will engage in:

  • Introduction to the 12 Steps
  • 24-hour nursing supervision
  • Comprehensive evaluation and treatment planning
  • Medication management
  • Psychiatric therapy one or more times a week
  • Daily group therapy
  • Individual therapy
  • Recreational therapy (e.g. gym, pool, meditation, and yoga)
  • Aftercare and discharge planning

By the time this work is complete, your loved one ideally should develop epiphanies about what led to addiction, close painful chapters that initiated or fueled addiction, determine triggers, mend broken social bonds, and receive tools and group support that can be used in the “day-to-day” world to prevent relapse.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment picks up where inpatient treatment left off. It is not as intensive; it does not require him to stay overnight at the facility. Rather, he can come to the facility for a set number of hours daily or weekly, then go home after the session is complete. This allows him to keep his work schedule and other day-to-day responsibilities.

Outpatient treatment is thus best for those who have a mild substance abuse problem or who’ve gone through inpatient care and are looking to extend treatment but without round-the-clock supervision.

It is not for those who are in strong, active addiction as this type of facility does not assist with detox and withdrawal.

While he would not be committed at as tense a level of inpatient care where he must remain overnight, outpatient programs do require him to check into treatment at specified times and days to receive counseling and medication.

Programs come in different formats and levels of intensity and offer such services as ongoing therapy, group counseling, biofeedback and adjunct therapies like art and music. However, the main focus is on counseling, relapse prevention education, solidifying the 12 steps by making them a way of life, and building a network of support (group therapy).

CRAFT: An Alternative to Intervention

Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT) is a skills-based program that teaches families how to use self-care, problem solving, activities, communication, rewards, and goal setting to change their loved one’s behavior, as well as their own.

Through these behavioral and motivational strategies, you learn how powerful positive reinforcement can be and are equipped with how to use them so your influence is maximized and your interactions are enhanced.  

What this means is that CRAFT looks to you to gain the skills and knowledge. You will not confront your loved one as you would in intervention, rather you’ll be taught how to break your unintentended participation and enabling of his addiction.

You’ll set boundaries and remove yourself from these patterns. Having made the separation, you’ll regain your life and reconnect to things that are important to you and your wellbeing.

This freedom also empowers you to invite changes into your life and his, and because you are more open, you can come up with creative, yet effective ways to have those complicated conversations.

How to Find the Right Intervention Program

One of the best ways to find an intervention program is to reach out to local clinics, trustworthy support groups online, addiction professionals, and national organizations. They can lead you to treatment programs and extend advice.

Once you have leads, read reviews and research the facility to better understand their services, qualifications, and ability to handle your loved one’s particular needs. Call and speak to a representative, even schedule an appointment to visit the facility.

Ask lots of questions, including those about financing and steps required for admission. Have them lay out what a typical intervention and recovery program looks like at their facility. The facility should be full-service, offering short-term and long-term stays and be capable of medically supporting him through detox and withdrawal. Combination therapies, coping tools and skill-building should come standard, along with follow-up care for when your loved one leaves.  

If there are past patients or families who are willing to speak about their experience there, engage them as this will help you determine what kind of care and success your loved one might have.

Steer clear of centers that promise quick fixes and be skeptical about any treatments that don’t align with traditional or proven methods like cognitive behavioral therapy. Staff should be compassionate, patient, and accommodating. The facility should be clean, organized, and functioning smoothly.  

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