Substance Abuse Interventions

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, learn when and why a substance abuse intervention might be the best course of action.

What is a Substance Abuse Intervention?

A substance abuse intervention is a carefully structured gathering of family and friends with a loved one who has a substance abuse problem. The goal of an intervention is to provide care and support to the person struggling with substance abuse so they can start on the road to recovery.

Signs that It’s Time for an Intervention

It’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of substance abuse so that people struggling can get the treatment they need. The warning signs of a substance abuse disorder that might require an intervention include:

Warning Signs of Alcohol Addiction

Warning signs of alcohol abuse that may call for an intervention include:

  • Binge drinking
  • Frequently drinking to excess or blackout
  • Drinking to ease withdrawal symptoms
  • Always thinking about the next drink
  • Getting angry if questioned about drinking habits
  • Isolating from their support system

Warning Signs of Addiction to Depressants

Warning signs of an addiction to depressants such as Xanax or Valium include:

  • Contracted pupils
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Lack of coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Abnormal sleepiness

Warning Signs of Addiction to Hallucinogens

Warning signs of an addiction to hallucinogens such as LSD include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Paranoia
  • Aggression
  • Hallucinations
  • Mood swings
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Slurred speech

Warning Signs of Addiction to Stimulants

Warning signs of an addiction to stimulants such as cocaine, crystal meth, and amphetamines include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Hyperactivity
  • Euphoria
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Extended periods without sleeping or eating
  • Sudden weight loss
  • A dry nose and mouth

Warning Signs of Addiction to Heroin

Warning signs of an addiction to heroin include:

  • Contracted pupils that don’t respond to light
  • Needle marks
  • Sleeping at odd times
  • Excessive sweating
  • Vomiting
  • Coughing and sniffing
  • Twitching
  • Loss of appetite

Interventions for Alcoholics vs Drug Abusers

Interventions for alcoholics will be similar to those for drug abusers. The main difference will be in the type of help you offer them, such as detox and rehab services that specialize in their particular substance. When holding an intervention, it’s important to have a plan for the specific help you’ll offer your loved one.

Interventions for High-Functioning vs “Low Bottom” Users

A high-functioning substance user is still functional in society despite their dependence on alcohol or drugs. In contrast, a “low bottom” user is someone who has often lost their job, friends, family, and health to the addiction.

The main difference in an intervention for these different kinds of users will be in how you discuss the impact of their actions. Whereas a “low bottom” user might recognize the many aspects of their life that are suffering as a result of their actions, a high functioning user may still be convinced that their addiction isn’t “that bad”. You may need to put more effort into showing them how their actions are damaging themselves and those around them.

Common Myths and Misconceptions About Substance Abuse Interventions

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about interventions, including:

Interventions are Confrontational and Shaming

The goal of any intervention is to offer support to a loved one, and you’re unlikely to achieve this if they shut down or feel the need to defend themselves instead of listening. Experts advise having an experience interventionalist run the session to avoid it becoming a yelling match or blame session.

If Your Loved One Refuses Help, the Intervention Failed

The journey to recovery is a long one, and every step in the right direction is helpful. You may have helped your loved ones to understand the impacts of their actions better, even if they are not yet ready to accept help. You can always continue the conversation.

Are You or a Loved One Ready to Accept Help?

Ethos Recovery offers a structured sober living community for young men in recovery from alcohol and drug abuse. If you or your loved one is ready to begin their recovery journey, we can provide mentoring and a supportive environment that helps reinforce positive lifestyle choices.

Find out how Ethos recovery can help.