Most people are familiar with interventions — many of us were introduced to the concept of interventions by the cable network A&E show called Intervention. An intervention is a planned gathering of family members and close friends of a person struggling with a Substance Use Disorder. An addiction specialist guides the conversation and keeps the session productive. Ultimately, the goal is to persuade the individual to agree to get treatment.
A brief intervention is a short conversation, or a series of chats, between an addiction specialist and an individual who is displaying the warning signs of a SUD. Specialists suggest employing brief interventions when someone is engaging in concerning behaviors, such as binge drinking. The idea is to address these behaviors before the person develops an SUD. It is a proactive measure to hopefully guide the individual toward making healthy changes.
What is a brief intervention?
An example of where a brief intervention might be helpful is when a person suffers alcohol-poisoning caused by excessive drinking. A healthcare professional can bring on a brief intervention counselor who can inform the individual of the dangers of binge drinking and encourage changing those behaviors. These sessions are not intended for people deep in the grips of an SUD.
A brief intervention is not confrontational. Instead, the session is more like a conversation during which the counselor asks the individual questions and offers choices. Along those lines, brief interventions are often conducted along with motivational interviewing (MI), particularly when using extended brief interventions (about five short sessions). MI is a style of therapy that engages the individual where they are asking them about their future goals and whether their choices are aligned with those goals. MI allows the individual to make positive changes without forcing them to do so.
Benefits of interventions
There is plenty of room for both types of interventions in the field of substance use recovery. A formal intervention, where a counselor plans a gathering where loved ones share their feelings, one at a time, with the family member struggling with an SUD, can help persuade them to accept treatment. Learning how much their substance use was harming his or her family members might be the wake-up call that leads to change.
For someone still in the early stages of substance use, a brief intervention can offer the following benefits:
- A Teachable Moment: Young people are prone to thinking that they are immortal, impervious to harm. When a young person ingests a substance that causes them harm, or is involved in a DUI, a brief intervention can allow the counselor to educate them on the dangers of drugs and alcohol.
- A Chance to Reassess Life: For some, experiencing an event that puts them in harm’s way might motivate them to evaluate their life and the choices they are making. Guided by the counselor, the individual can define their life goals and initiate positive changes to help them achieve those goals.
- An Opportunity: Since most teens or young adults might never take the initiative to meet with a therapist for a formal session, a brief intervention brings the counseling to them. This presents an opportunity for a young person who is heading down a dangerous path to receive some guidance and input that they otherwise might never have received.
Brief interventions offer an accessible, low-cost source of influence and support for individuals who are in danger of developing a future SUD.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formerly Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders and is accredited by The Joint Commission. We offer holistic care that encompasses the mind, body and spirit through inpatient and outpatient treatment, and provide drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s unique needs. Our driving principle – “everything for recovery” – reinforces our mission to transform and save lives through the science of medicine, the art of therapy and the compassion of spirituality, and is complemented by our philosophy of healing with respect and dignity. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call (866) 313-6307.