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Interventions save lives. When family members and friends host an intervention for their drug or alcohol addicted loved one, they are saying, We love you. We want you to get help now. An intervention can save an addict before it’s too late. If the intervention is successful, the addict will enter treatment where they can get help for their destructive behavior and get sober.

The Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) published this report which provided information on interventions. Intervention are broken down into two categories, labeled as brief interventions & brief therapies for substance abuse. The report, Treatment Improvement Protocols, lists the five stages of change the typical person has to go through before they can be sober again.  These five stages are pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action and maintenance.

During pre-contemplation, the person is not considering a change at all because they’re aware of few negative consequences. They are unlikely to take any action anytime soon. The next stage, contemplation, is when the person is aware of the pros and cons of their substance abuse. However, they don’t really want to change yet. They haven’t committed.

The next step is preparation. This stage begins when the person decides to change and they begin to plan their recovery. Following the preparation stage is the action phase. During this phase the person tries new behaviors that will help them stay sober. However, this stage is the experimental stage where the new, healthy behaviors either stick or they don’t. After taking action, a person must progress into the maintenance stage. During this stage the person actively practices the behaviors they learned so that they can stay sober on a long-term basis.

These five stages do not always proceed in a linear, timely order. An intervention may be the first event that sparks the contemplation phase. The addict may not have realized they had an addiction or that it was negatively affecting everyone around them. Following the intervention, many people decide there is an issue and they think about getting help.

A person who successfully completes drug or alcohol treatment will still need to practice maintenance. If they don’t, then they can relapse and find themselves back in the pre-contemplation phase where they don’t believe they have a problem. Drug or alcohol treatment is only one part of recovery. The addict must also be willing to actively work towards staying sober by going to meetings and avoiding triggers.

The Five Steps of Change (SAMHSA)
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