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Interventions For Long Term Drug Abusers: Social Life

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Write about the Interventions for Long Term Drug Abusers for Social Life.




Drug abuse is the complete reliance on a chemical substance for the achievement of  a certain state of mind. Drug abuse can range from using illegal substances to overusing prescribed drugs. A 2012 report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse showed that 23.9 million people were long- term drug abusers. Drug abuse affects an individual’s social, physical, and emotional life. Continued abuse of drugs leads to addiction. An intervention is a deliberate process to educate and confront a drug abuser in an attempt to convince them to seek treatment (Johnson,1986). Family members, close friends, and a professional interventionist gather in a meeting during an intervention (Kumper et al., 1995).

An intervention should be carefully planned to avoid failure and to drive the abuser further away. A drug abuser will often show signs of social withdrawal, lack of proper hygiene, irritability, weight changes, bloodshot eyes, financial problems among others (Kolb, 1995). An intervention involves identifying the problem, helping the person to seek treatment, and follow- up. Long term drug abusers entirely rely on drugs, and they become part of their lives. Getting them to acknowledge the problem and seek treatment is an uphill task (Hall,1993). Recovery from drug abuse starts with the acknowledgement of the addiction. It is important to note that some drug abusers recognize their problem but have a hard time turning away from their behavior. This paper looks at different interventions for long-term drug abusers.


The Johnson Intervention

This method is a refined version of the traditional a confrontational model. In the past, confrontation was negative and blamed the addict for their behavior. This method is considered insensitive according to today’s standards. Dr. Johnson came up with this model during the 70s when it was believed that an addict should hit rock bottom to warrant an intervention. The rock bottom in these cases involved tragic deaths from accidents or suicide. It was believed that as long as an addict had a job, a family and a social life, an intervention was not necessary. Dr. Johnson created a model that would save lives of addicts before it was too late.

In Johnson’s model, a team of family members, close friends, and colleagues is lead by an interventionist (Johnson,1986). The members are advised to learn more about addiction, maintain positivity, and remain empathetic. After all the necessary arrangements, a venue is chosen and the abuser lured to the venue. The team carefully confronts the abuser with their concerns. The group is advised to remind the abuser that they love them, and to avoid any blame and hurt. This model can be tailored to fit the needs of an individual. A spouse may be trained and prepared for confrontation, or a best friend. The addict may respond positively to the intervention. The team is advised to prepare for setbacks because some people might respond negatively. The next step is to encourage and support the abuser in seeking treatment( Loneck &Garret, 1996).


The ARISE Intervention

This model is slightly different from the Jonson’s model. This method involves informing the abuser of the intention to intervene. This method is formal, and a professional is involved. The addict is informed of every step to avoid any surprises (Landau et al., 1997). Once the drug abuser agrees to the intervention, the meetings stop and the intervention begins. Addiction and drug abuse affect the involved individual and the family. This model seeks to heal both the abuser and the family members. In many circumstances, family members, especially spouses change their behavior to accommodate the abuser. Some family members make excuses for the addict or join them in their indulgence (Hall, 1993).

The ARISE model seeks to stop this behavior to prepare the abuser for recovery. Dr. Judith Landau co-founded the ARISE model after the death of her parents through drugs. Through her experience, she learned the importance of incorporating the family into the healing process. This model has worked for most people (Landau et al. 1997). This method uses the family network to support the drug abuser.


The Love First Intervention

This method was developed in the year 2000. A team of worried family members and friends come together with a strict agenda (Jay& Jay, 2008). A priest or any trusted family member is made the team leader. The team consists of at least three members. The members are instructed to write letters. These letters are divided into four parts. The first part looks into the relationship between the writer and the abuser. The letter reminisces about past experiences and is concluded with a love message (Hall, 1993). The second part includes instances when the abuser caused the writer pain or embarrassment. The third part is an account of concern. The writer expresses concern and encourages the writer to seek treatment. The fourth and final part states the consequences of failure to adhere to the intervention. This part appears on a different page.

The team letters edit each others’ letters to remove any hostile words and to ensure encouragement. The letters contain suggestions to enter different inpatient facilities. The team makes arrangements with these facilities in case the abuser accepts help. The drug abuser is invited to an agreed venue. The letters are read, and if the patient agrees to seek help, the meeting is ended and the person taken to a health facility immediately. This means that not all letters are read (Jay& Jay, 2008). If the patient remains adamant, the reading continues. When all fail, the bottom lines are read (Kumpfer& Alvarado, 1995). If the addict accepts help and at some point feel like leaving the facility, the letters are presented to him for review and encouragement. This intervention should be concluded with support for treatment.


The Tough Love Model

This model is intense and should be approached with care. This method involves confronting the drug abuser with consequences. Research has shown that only 10% of patients require this type of intervention.  If the person fails to stop abusing drugs, the family moves on without the person (Stanton, 2004). In the case of children, the parents ask them to leave home if they fail to stop abusing drugs. In the case of adults, the family cuts all contact and moves on (Loneck et al., 1996). Years of hurt and embarrassment from the addiction may brew anger and hostility. This method requires a professional interventionist.

The professional interventionist guides the family in writing down the consequences without anger and hostility. The drug abuser requires love and encouragement ( Liepman et al., 1989). This method works for those who do not respond to compassion and love. The consequences outline what the abusers tend to lose if they fail to change. This method works for long-term abusers who have refused to respond to the normal intervention methods. The family members may include consequences such as taking custody of the kids, being driven away from home or cut off any financial assistance (Lowinson et al. 2005).


Drug abuse is a sensitive subject that requires technique and expertise. The first step is acceptance and love towards the drug abuser. Different people respond differently to interventions. An intervention should be tailor-made to suit an individual (Bassin, 1975). An interventionist with the right qualifications is an essential asset in the intervention process. The interventionist acts as a neutral party. The above methods of intervention are carried out differently to suit different individuals. Identifying the most suitable method is essential (Hall, 1993).

When loved ones fail to confront, they become enablers. Most drug abusers are not aware of the problem. The main aim of an intervention is to drive the abuser close to treatment. Getting an addict to accept help is the hardest part. Some addicts are aware of their problem but are unwilling to turn away from their addiction. The tough love method applies consequences such as sacking from a job, taking the kids away, or cutting ties. According to Bassin (1993), confrontational tactics should influence the individual’s character. A carefully planned intervention works almost all the time.

Interventions are not always successful. Families and friends should be ready for failure. An addict may refuse to seek treatment after an intervention. The interventionist, in this case, helps the family to carry out the agreed consequences (Kolb, 1995). The addict becomes the loser and might think things over. This can take weeks or even months to accomplish. Patience is key in all interventions. 



Bassin, A.(1975), “Different Strokes for Different Folks: A Defense of Confrontation Tactics in Psychotherapy” The Counseling Psychologists.  5(7). 128-130

Best D., Gross S., Vingoe L., Witton J., Strang J.(2003) “Dangerousness of drugs. A guide to the risks and harms associated with substance misuse” London: Department of Health 

Hall.J (1993), “What Really Works? A Case Analysis and Discussion of Confrontational Intervention for Substance Abuse “ Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, 7 , 322-327

Jay,D., Jay. J. (2008), “ Love First: A Family’s Guide to Intervention” Minnesota: HazelDen

Johnson, V.(1986) “ Intervention: How to Help Someone Who Doesn’t Want Help” Minneapolis: Johnson Institute Books

Kolb,L.(1995) “ Types and Characteristics of Drug Addicts” Mental Hygiene, 9. 300-317

Kumpfer, L.,Alvarado, R.(1995) “ Family-based Interventions for Substance Use and Misuse Prevention ” Substance Use and Misuse Vol 38, 1759-1787

Landau,J., Shea, R., Garret, J., Stanton ,M, Baciewicz ,S.,& Brinkman, D.(1997)” Strength in Numbers: The ARISE Method for Using Families and Networks to Engage Addicted Persons in Treatment” New York: Brunner/ Mazel

Liepman,M., Nirenberg,T.,& Begin, A.( 1989) “ Evaluation of a Program Designed to Help Families and Significant Others tp Motivate Resistant Alcoholics into Recovery ” American Journal of Drugs& Alcohol Abuse 15(2), 200-221

Loneck, B., Garret, J.,& Banks,S. (1996) “A Comparison of the John Intervention with Four Other Methods of Referral to Outpatient Treatment” The American Journal of Drugs &Alcohol Abuse 22,233-246

Lowinson, H., Ruiz, P., Robert, B., Langrod, G.(2005). Substance Abuse: A Comprehensive Textbook (4th ed.). Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Stanton,M.(2004) “Getting Reluctant Substance Abusers to Engage in Treatment/Self-help: A Review of Outcomes and Clinical Options” Journal of Marital and Family Therapy 30(2), 165-182


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