Intervention Models

Essentially, Drug and Alcohol Interventions have occurred, in some form, for thousands of years. As long as there has been someone who is abusing drugs or alcohol, there has also been someone who cared enough about them to tried to intervene. Understanding the different models of interventions and how they have evolved throughout history can help shed light on why the current models exist in the form they do.

Religious Models of Interventions

In the King James Bible, there are more references condemning the use of alcohol than there are on the subjects of:

  • lying
  • adultery
  • swearing
  • cheating
  • hypocrisy
  • pride
  • blasphemy

In the Muslim faith, alcohol is claimed to have more evil than good and is usually forbidden, especially intoxication. With Alcohol being forbidden, in excess, in many faiths has led many religious leaders to automatically assume the role of the first interventionists. How specifically an imam, priest, rabbi, bishop or pastor took this role depends on the era, the particular faith and the individual.

It is important, however, to give credit to these men, and women, who first attempted to intervene on someone who was abusing alcohol or drugs. Usually, the solution, in each case, was to re-immerse or commit oneself to one’s faith. Interestingly enough, these interventions still occur, although not on a professional basis.

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Psychiatric Models of Interventions

Alcoholism, in history, has always fought a battle of “vice vs. disease”. In other words, is alcoholism a moral failing or a medical or psychiatric disease? Although declared a disease by the AMA in 1959, the idea of alcoholism as a disease still has some dispute amongst laypeople and even medical professionals.

Depending on the viewpoint and at what time period, alcoholics have been treated as sick patients…or even criminals. As an example, the following is a submission to the North American Review in 1891 by Thomas Davison Crothers about the scientific methods to deal with alcoholism:

“… arrest and commit all drunkards to such hospitals for an indefinite time, depending on the restoration of the patients; also commit all persons who use spirits to excess and imperil their own lives and the lives of others; put them under exact military, medical, and hygienic care, where all the conditions and circumstances of life and living can be regulated and controlled; make them self-supporting as far as it is possible; and let this treatment be continued for years if necessary. The recent cases will become cured, and the incurable will be protected from themselves and others and made both useful and self-supporting. Who can fully estimate the benefits to society, to morals and to civilization by promptly isolating such persons and keeping them in normal states of living? Who can estimate the relief to the taxpayer by the removal of the perils to both property and life from drunkenness? This is not a theory, but a reality only awaiting practical demonstration.”

Modern Models of Intervention

  • In the 1960s, a recovering alcoholic priest by the name of Vernon Johnson began to hold interventions, based upon “creating” the negative consequences usually required for an alcoholic to reach their bottom. Vernon Johnson is often cited as the father of modern interventions and his method is now referred to as the Model of Interventions. This type of intervention focuses primarily on changing the addict through immediate consequences.

Since the Johnson Model of Interventions was successful in getting a client to treatment, but often failed to handle the sickness within the family, in the last several decades several family-based intervention styles have come into play. The most common include:

  • Family Systemic Interventions: Focusing on changing an unhealthy family system.
  • : A gentle approach involving “inviting” the addict into the intervention
  • S.M.A.R.T. Model Interventions: A Family Systemic approach that focuses on Cognitive Behavioral viewpoint in changing a family system, and systemic enabling. This model was developed by Intervention Services founder, David Lee.

There are a few as well.

Interventions originally were performed by individuals who felt compelled to make a difference in someone’s life who was destroying it with drugs and alcohol. Sometimes this influence can be brief, whereas other times it is long lasting.

Modern Intervention Models have shifted their focus from simply getting someone’s agreement into treatment, into getting someone into long-term recovery and abstinence. This approach takes skills and training and much more than the ability to momentarily inspire.

Intervention Services prides itself in helping family’s to achieve long-term success with their loved ones for over 10 years.

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