February 28, 2014
No matter where a person is on the continuum of drug and alcohol abuse, having solid plans of intervention in place are crucial in helping people all along the continuum either stay abstinent or find meaningful long-term recovery. Whether done as part of an educational program in the community or in the structured environment of drug treatment, early intervention for substance abuse follow a specific goal in helping all people identify the underlying issues and triggers that allow addiction to flourish and take measures to prevent its’ growth. By helping people to modify their behaviors, these early intervention measures help foster healthy coping skills and a sense of confidence and self-worth that minimizes the need to use substances.
The Importance of Early Intervention in Substance Abuse
The basic goal for a client in early intervention setting is to reduce the risk of harm from the continued use of drugs and alcohol. The number one goal is abstinence, but the specific recovery goals for each person is dependent on factors such as their pattern of use, the amount they are consuming, the consequences of their use, and the setting in which early intervention measures are delivered. Focusing on these intermediate goals allows for more immediate successes in the intervention and treatment process. In the intensive and structured environment of drug treatment, goals might include quitting one substance, decreasing frequency of use, or attending a 12-step meeting or other sober support groups. Successes achieved during this phase are important to keep the client motivated as they progress in their recovery.
The Stages of Change And Its’ Role In Early Intervention for Substance Abuse
It is often the case that many people do not recognize the signs of substance abuse they slowly take over their lives. The signs and symptoms of drug and alcohol abuse can often be subtle and will gradually develop over time. Addiction professionals who engage in early intervention measures for substance abuse understand there are stages of change those with substance abuse issues undergo, and in each stage there are different motivations that can spark change.
The first stage is the pre-contemplation stage in which the individual is not even thinking about changing their drinking or drugging behavior. They may not see it as a problem, and if other express concern or point out instances in which their behavior is impacting their life the individual will think they are merely exaggerating the situation. In the next stage–often called the contemplation stage–those who are struggling with substance abuse are willing to consider the possibility that they have a problem, but are often highly ambivalent and are on the proverbial fence of whether they want to truly make a change or are content with their current behavior.
People in this contemplation stage are often quite interested in learning about alcoholism and treatment and are weighing the pros and cons of continued use of drugs and alcohol as well as the pros and cons of attending drug treatment. If they make a commitment to quit drugs, they enter the determination stage in which an individual is read and committed to take action. The individual may still have a certain level of ambivalence and hesitancy in pursuing drug treatment, but the level of those feelings have been minimized to a degree that the desire to get better outweighs the desire to keep using drugs and alcohol.
The individual then makes a commitment to action in which they formulate a realistic plan which includes a comprehensive and realistic evaluation of the severity of their addiction and the obstacles that may impede recovery. After the individualized treatment plan has been created, the plan is put into action and the individual works in collaboration with treatment staff in addressing and overcoming their specific addiction issues. During the course of treatment the plan is modified to meet their changing needs as they move towards recovery.
After treatment, they enter a maintenance phase in which the newly recovering person learn to adapt to a new way of life without the use of substances. Because addiction is seen as a complex disease, the threat of relapse is always present. To minimize the chances of relapse, those who are new in recovery are taught relapse prevention techniques and strategies they can incorporate into their daily routines. In the case of a relapse, people can utilize the help of addiction professionals and others in the recovery community to assess what went wrong and modify their individual plan of recovery.
Goals of Early Intervention Measures in Regards to Substance Abuse
Early intervention measures for substance abuse can be modified in regards to how far on the continuum a person is in their use of drugs and alcohol. For example, those who may be abstaining from use of substances on their own and haven’t reached out for help would benefit from a community-based education program about the dangers of substance abuse and the stages of development that lead to substance abuse. For those who may be light or moderate users, there may be educational measures focusing on the health risks and complications that can occur as a result of their drug use. Additionally, there would be more of a focus on the dangers of developing an abusive pattern of substance abuse.
For those who are seen as at-risk users, early intervention measures address the level of use, encourage moderation or abstinence, and educate about the consequences of risky behavior and the risks associated with increased use. For those who drug and alcohol use has reached abusive levels, any kind of brief interventions focus on moderating their intake or encouraging abstinence until they can get into a structured treatment environment that will provide medical detox, therapy, life and coping skills training aftercare programs which focus on relapse prevention education.
Don’t wait for your substance abuse to grow worse; call Ocean Breeze Recovery Center today and get the help and support you need to overcome your addiction and make recovery a reality–starting right now.