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Guide on Drug Intervention Programs

A Complete Guide on Drug Intervention Programs

Interventions have become associated with all thing’s addiction in public culture. Reality TV shows featuring obsessive hoarders, out of control teenagers and drug addicted family members. Usually these shows, and the families involved will enlist the help of addiction experts: psychologists, counselors and the like.

These intervention teams can do a lot to boost perceptions of credibility in the eyes of viewers, but do drug and alcohol intervention programs work in the real world, or are they simply good television?

In this article we will be giving you all the information you need to understand drug intervention programs–what they are, what kinds exist and the critical role that loved ones play to create a successful outcome.

What are Drug Intervention Programs?

Drug and alcohol intervention programs cater to an at-risk population of drug abusers. Ideal candidates for drug intervention programs are people who either can’t stop or refuse to stop using. They also tend to be the most at risk for being in legal or criminal trouble if they continue use.

The families of these individuals are usually at wits end with their loved one. They may have tried several times to convince them to stop–using various tactics from pleading to bargaining. At this point they may have tried to stage their own interventions. Unfortunately, when unmoderated, interventions are seldomly productive.

The ultimate goal is to convince them to enter treatment, but when emotions run high and the blame is laid on too thick, it can have the opposite effect. With the help of a drug intervention program, specialists work closely with the family using tried and true methods of convincing a person to go to treatment.

What Are the Types of Drug Interventions Programs?

  • The Small Group Intervention – Also called brief interventions are typically limited to one or two close family members and an intervention specialist.
  • The Traditional (Johnson Model) Intervention – These interventions are organized in secret without the knowledge of the subject by members of the person’s peer network and family. During the intervention everyone reads from pre-written scripts. The script

These scripts are a personal call to action. They are designed to make the person aware of how their addiction affects others, themselves and lay out the consequences should they continue to use.

  • Family Systems Intervention – This approach takes its lead from the family systems body of research which attempts to understand, diagnose and repair dysfunction within a family. This type of mediation is commonly used with adolescents but can also work well for adults that share deep bonds with their family.1
  • Crisis Intervention – In the case of overdose, a major relapse event, or some other imminent danger, a more intensive approach is necessary. Crisis intervention prioritizes removing the person immediately from harm and getting them in to a crisis counselor.

From there, a crisis intervention program can serve as a bridge, offering referral services to other mental health and social support resources.

  • The ARISE (A Relational Intervention Sequence for Engagement) Model – The Arise model is a family style form of intervention that is less coercive and confrontational than the Johnson method. As opposed to a single surprise meeting, the ARISE method is a multi-stepped approach that gradually raises the stakes; generally lasting from 3-5 sessions. 


How Do Drug Intervention Programs work?

  1. Gathering Information

With the help of a drug intervention specialist, the family organizes all relevant information about the case. Details about the person’s personality, the extent of their substance use and the past experiences of friends and family will guide the direction of the intervention.

  1. Determining the Intervention Team

The intervention team should be comprised of the most dedicated members of the person’s family or peer group. Before the intervention, they will meet several times and work together for the good of the program.

  1. Setting The Stakes

Building an effective intervention program hinges on establishing consequences should the person refuse help. If it is a group intervention, it is up to each member to decide what their own consequences shall be. Some examples of consequences could include refusing financial support or threatening to move them out of your house.2

  1. Writing The Scripts

In standard interventions, members of the intervention team read from personal scripts. These testimonies are carefully crafted– they are based on facts about their loved ones past actions, how it made them feel, and how it is hurting themselves or others.

  1. Conducting The Intervention

If the intervention is being held by surprise, typically one member will lead the subject to the intervention location. From there friends and family will take turns reading from their prepared scripts. They will also each give the person an ultimatum should they not except treatment.

If all goes well, the person will agree to go to get help, but it is still important to follow up to make sure they actually go and remain in treatment.

Who Should Be on The Drug Interventions Team?

A drug intervention team is comprised of a specialist and well-meaning members of the addicted individual’s family. But just as important as who should be on the team, is who shouldn’t. Members of the intervention team should be on good terms with the person. It is also important for members to be calm, collected and committed to the plan as well as being able refrain from lashing about or getting swept up in a tide of emotions.

How to Find the Best Drug Intervention Program?

The best way to find an intervention program is by calling your local drug rehabilitation centers. These businesses work with addiction specialists and can’t give you a referral. Sometimes, they even have their own intervention programs.3

How to Successfully Complete the Drug Intervention Program?

Making a drug intervention program a success hinges on the ability to convince the addicted person to enter treatment. In order to increase the odds of this happening, it is important that the intervention plan be meticulously crafted.

While there is no guarantee that an intervention will be successful, having an expert intervention specialist involved can help during every step of the process. Decisions like choosing the correct type of intervention and venue, crafting quality scripts, and maximizing positive communication will improve the likelihood of success.

Are you or a loved one considering addiction treatment? Valley Detox centers is a California treatment center serving locals and visitors of the Los Angeles area.

Our rehabilitation and medical detox programs use evidence-based practices designed to help you heal in the most safe, supportive and efficient manner possible. To learn more, call us today at (888) 495-9128.


Comparing 4 Intervention Techniques. Sunrise House. (2020, October 14). Retrieved December 9, 2021, from

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2017, July 20). Intervention: Help a Loved One Overcome Addiction. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved December 9, 2021, from

The Complete Drug & Alcohol Intervention Guide. Bedrock. (2020, December 11). Retrieved December 9, 2021, from