An Invitational Intervention is a professionally-directed process designed to help an individual recognize the negative effects their substance use has on themselves and others, and present them with an opportunity to receive help and make changes.
When a person is actively misusing substances they are often in denial and ambivalent about their situation and may not recognize the negative effects their behavior has on themselves and others. An Invitational Intervention helps the person make the connection between their problematic use of alcohol and/or drugs and the problems in their life.
An Invitational Intervention is appropriate when:
- The situation does not warrant immediate action regarding health or safety
- There is a lack of clarity about the exact nature of a situation
- An individual is still connected to, and in frequent communication with family, friends, and/or their employer
The goal of an Invitational Intervention is to present the substance user with a safe and structured opportunity to receive help and to make changes before things get worse. I have been trained in performing interventions by well known leading American Interventionist Brad Lamm through his company Change, Inc.
Let’s get them to say ‘yes’ to the help they need.
How Invitational Interventions work
I tailor interventions using aspects of the most common evidence-based intervention techniques used today although I mainly employ Invitational Interventions. Within this approach, a family will often call to tell me a loved one has a problem with alcohol or drugs. After the first call I will begin by working with the family for a few days gathering as much information as possible and then we invite the person who is consuming substances into the conversation early on and ask them if they'd be willing to attend a "family meeting." There will be one of three replies: 1. Yes, I will participate. 2. I would like to think about it. 3. Get lost. I do not have a problem and I'm certainly not speaking to my family. How dare you! For me, a no is actually disguised as a yes — it will just take a bit more time to get there.
When an invitation to get help is presented rather than a surprise confrontation, the person will often say yes to participating in a family meeting. If they say they want to think about it, it is not too long after that they will agree to participate. Either way, the family meeting happens whether the family member who is consuming substances attends or not.
I prefer to avoid surprise interventions (except for extreme emergencies) and typically meet with family members, friends, and/or employers for as long as needed beforehand, gathering as much information as possible.
For the best outcomes I keep intervention gatherings small, often just meeting with the individual and one or two concerned family members, close friends, or employer.
My role is to work with the client and their support network to create a treatment plan and support them through each stage of recovery. This will include creating the most appropriate change-plan that may include in-treatment or out-patient treatment, providing safe transportation to and from treatment, case-management and aftercare support for both the client and family.
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For anyone affected by someone else’s substance use, I recommend reading the book Beyond Addiction.