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intervention FAQs

What are the methods of substance use intervention?

Organizing and performing family intervention is common practice for most families with a loved one struggling with addiction. Getting someone into treatment for addiction is not easy, but it is essential because an addiction quickly spirals out of control. According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, among the 20 million-plus people with a substance use disorder, only 1.5% or 4.2 million received any treatment for their addiction. Overall, the outcome of an intervention can be stressful. For an addict to benefit from the treatment, they must stay in the program long enough to reap the benefits, which means a proper intervention is important.

The first step is an intervention, and professional interventionists have access to various techniques they use when working with families and their drug-addicted loved ones. Intervention models include the following:

Johnson Model—This intervention model is the most recognized as it utilizes the element of surprise where family, friends, and an interventionist confront the addict. The intervention process revolves around the group discussing the addict’s behavior and the harm caused by the addiction. The goal is to remove any sense of denial and support the person enrolling in treatment. The intervention group also presents consequences if the addict refuses help.

Field Model—This intervention method combines both the Invitational Model (discussed below) and the Johnson Model. The interventionist makes decisions in the field, and the model is useful for an intervention that needs to be staged quickly with little time to prepare. For example, the process may happen the same day, and nothing is rehearsed with the family, but the interventionist is making the decisions based on their experience and knowledge.

Invitation Model—This intervention model is similar to the Johnson Model, but it removes the element of surprise. Typically, it does not involve a professional interventionist, but one family member or friend is asked to speak with the addict. The addict is fully aware of what the meeting is about and is free to decide whether to attend or not.

Motivational Interviewing—This intervention model takes the counseling approach and focuses on having a conversation with the addict about their addiction and receiving help. Typically, a therapist or interventionist works to help understand the point of view of the addict.

Systemic Model—This model is meant to encourage the addict to get helps and invites family and friends to discuss with an interventionist how they have all contributed to the addict’s substance abuse. The method takes the approach of addiction being a community problem, and like other models, it resists placing blame and shame on the addict.


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