5 Strategies for Addiction Intervention

April 1st, 2015 by CTSCCC


Addiction intervention training prepares students for a career where it’s possible to change the lives of others every day. Through addiction intervention courses, students can learn what addiction truly is, what the various models of intervention are, and how to implement them in patient scenarios. Read on to find out what type of work you’ll be doing when you become an addiction intervention counsellor, and what strategies can be used by you to help addiction sufferers make the decision to seek treatment.

What is Addiction?

It is important for an addiction worker to have a firm grasp of what addiction truly is. Along with this, it is also essential to recognize what addiction isn’t.

Drugs, both legal pharmaceuticals and illegal substances like cocaine and heroin, can alter brain chemistry, creating a psychological dependence. Body-altering substances like alcohol can create a physical dependence.

What many seem to forget is that addiction is not limited to pills, alcohol and illicit narcotics. Many would be surprised to hear that two million people in Canada alone are addicted to caffeine, six million are hooked on cigarettes and 50,000 are compulsive gamblers.

Intervening in the life of someone struggling with an addiction isn’t easy, though it can be necessary for them to eventually achieve a higher quality of life. Professionals employ five main approaches to addiction intervention. They are:

The Johnson Intervention Model

When people hear the term intervention, the Johnson Model might spring to mind. Conceived by Episcopal priest Dr. Vernon Johnson in the 1970s as a way for patients to see their rock bottom before hitting it, this is when the patient’s loved ones confront them, led by an intervention specialist. It starts with a series of planning sessions designed to eliminate other potential conflicts and teach the patient’s friends, family and co-workers specifics about the addiction. When everything is in place, the patient is led to the location where everyone is assembled and is confronted.

The Invitation Model

Similar to the Johnson Model, the Invitation Model involves a confrontation, but it is not done by surprise. The patient is invited to an intervention with friends, family and a specialist. The goal of this model is to encourage the addicted person to seek treatment, and to foster a better relationship between the patient and their family.

The Field Model

The Field Model is often used for complex patients, some who may have violent tendencies. In this model, a psychiatric assessment team may monitor the patient for any signs of potential violence, including suicide. This ensures that when intervention occurs, the team is well-prepared to quickly adapt to any reactions the addicted person may have.

Systemic Intervention Model

The Systemic Intervention Model focuses more on working with a patient’s friends and family members than on confronting the patient. This is designed to eliminate a “shaming” environment that could actually make the patient want to resist treatment. Instead, this model fosters honesty, openness and respect.

Motivational Interviewing

Unlike other models, motivational interviewing is not confrontational, but rather empathetic. It involves asking the patient questions over a series of interviews. This helps the patient understand where their addictive behaviour stems from, and in turn, helps the counsellor understand why this behaviour means so much to the patient. This fosters a bond of trust between the counsellor and the patient, making them more likely to seek treatment.

In your experience, which model is the most effective for addiction intervention?

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