Intervention ~ Six Principles of Change
Intervention is not treatment.
It is not an end to a problem, but the beginning of change. There is never a guarantee of success, but always hope that things will improve.
Who needs help?
The majority of people, who admit to having been addicted or dependent on alcohol or drugs at some point in their life, also claim that they were able to quit on their own or with only minor interventions (per the National Survey on Drug Use). In some cases it was the person's desire to live a more normal life, and in other situations it was a concerned word from a healthcare professional. Indeed the stats show that typically the peak ages of substance use are from 18 to 25 years old with approximately 22% of persons in this age group using at a harmful level. However by ages 55 to 59 this figure drops to only 3% abusing or dependent on a substance.
A non-confrontational Approach
Research has also shown that the most effective treatments are non-confrontational approaches that allow self-motivated change. For family members, friends, spouses, and even professional addictions counselors the message is clear: Try to be supportive, non-judgmental, non-coercive, and help the substance using/abusing person to take responsibility for their own choices, decisions and life. It is the process of working together with the substance user that forms the basis of the therapeutic relationship and motivates change, and personal acceptance of responsibility on the part of the person seeking help.
When do people make changes?
People change when they want it badly enough and when they feel strong enough to face the challenge, not when they are humiliated or coerced. An approach that empowers and offers positive reinforcement is preferable to one that focuses their current state of substance use or abuse.
Six Principles of Change:
The person must believe that they can change. This includes learning to pay attention to and change their thinking patterns, how they respond to people, places, things, and events on an emotional level, how they choose to act and react to daily events, and being able to focus on longer term plans and goals, and act accordingly.
The type of treatment is less critical than the individual's commitment to change. People if are given choices and alternatives they can then select what process of change will work best for them. They can do this in line with their own values, ability to attend programs or balance commitments, and their preferences, and degree of spirituality. Substance users/abusers do not need to be told how to change - they need to be supported and encouraged to do so. Even in situation where a person has been externally motivated to attend treatment, such as by a court order; the treatment has only worked to the extent that the person made a conscious choice to listen, accept, and follow through with the alternatives that were presented to him or her.
3. Changing Habits
Treatments do not need to be lengthy or arduous. Brief treatments can change lifelong habits. It is not the length of a program that inspires people to change, but the ability of the program or therapeutic relationship with the helper or counselor to inspire the person to continue their own efforts to make positive changes in their live.
4. Life Skills
4. Life skills can be the key to overcoming substance abuse. Sometimes people just need to have the ability to meet their basic needs, to feed, clothe and take care of themselves. This might involve attaining more education, taking an employment preparation program, or learning a trade such that they do not need to live on a subsistence level. They may be sick and tired of being sick and tired, but do not have the resources to dig themselves out of the hole they have created.
Never give up. Repeated efforts are critical to change. "Winners never quit and quitters never win." There are hundreds of motivational sayings that support taking responsibility and making changes in our lives. However for the addicted or substance abusing person their self-defeating coping mechanisms (drug use), has a horrendous effect on their self-esteem. When they try to quit and fail, their thinking is often that of a negatively reinforcing feeling of failure, rather than seeing failure as an opportunity to learn what did not work and to try something different in their new plan to quit. Failure may not be what the substance user wants but it is what they know. The fear of change can be as terrifying as the thought of continuing in their self-defeating behaviors.
6. Harm Reduction
Improvement without abstinence counts. This is the view that incorporates a Harm Reduction approach. Real change takes time, and usually occurs in small steps. It is said that the most common outcome of treatment is relapse. Quite often the substance user needs to experiment with using again at some point to see if they can handle themselves. For example, it may be a specific situation or such as a difficult interpersonal relationship that triggers a person to abuse a substance. It is then up to the person to change the nature of the relationship, how they respond to the relationship, or avoid that situation to prevent them from returning to a dysfunctional method of coping. All improvement should be accepted and encouraged. It is counterproductive to kick people out of therapy for failing to abstain, or to insist upon a long period of abstinence before accepting them into treatment.
Active Agent = Active Participant
From this website's point of view it is extremely important for the substance user (SU) to participate in all decisions that affect him or her. This includes:
The therapists should always make the most ethical and least restrictive diagnosis possible. The more control the patient has over his or her own recovery - the more real, and lasting will be their changes in thinking, feeling and acting.
Does a person have to wait until they hit their "rock bottom"?
There are lots of ways that you can help someone who is in the thick of their addiction. The first thing is to non-judgmentally let them know that you care, that you will not aid in their using (do not enable) and that when they are ready you will be there for support.
A lot has been said about "waiting until a person hits their bottom". However, you can try to raise a person's rock bottom with things such as an intervention, or court mandated treatment. Sometimes their own drug caused medical emergency will bring them to a point of being ready to make changes.
You can help someone else recover!
What you need to remember is that "it is possible" to help someone who is on their way down (due to their drug use); but the effort that it will take at this point is huge compared to the changes in thinking and behavior that are actually happening in the user. However, this does not mean that ALL drug users are not worth it because they are. As one person said it is a function of time and love - and when someone is hell-bent on personal destruction - it is going to take a lot to turn them around.
Thus, said that is why people's efforts seem more effective after the user has hit their rock bottom, or at least they are "sick and tired of being sick and tired". Why, because they are supposedly trying to help themselves, and have finally recognized that they need outside help. No one really can say ahead of time what it will take to turn around a particular person, as we are all unique, and many different factors may have led the person to become chemically dependent or addicted and many positive factors may be needed to turn the person around.
Why try to intervene?
The scary part is, what if someone's rock bottom is their death? Then waiting for them to hit bottom, is not going to do them much good in the long run. So, is it worth trying to do all the best that you can? You bet it is!
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