Substance abuse intervention: How long?

Substance abuse interventions can take a few hours, but can be planned for days to weeks in advance. More on how to plan a substance abuse intervention and what to expect here.

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A substance abuse intervention usually takes about an hour, or so.  However, the planning behind an intervention can take several days or weeks. Here, we present a timeline of events and general guideline for what to prepare.  Then, we invite your questions about substance abuse interventions at the end.

Substance abuse interventions: A timeline of what happens

A substance abuse intervention should not be considered an event, but a process. A great deal of planning goes into a proper substance abuse intervention, and the actual intervention should be executed with care. Individuals who are planning an intervention should first consult with an intervention specialist, who can help them plan and execute it properly. A basic timeline of what happens during a substance abuse intervention is listed below.

1. Planning a substance abuse intervention

The planning stage of a substance abuse intervention is by far one of the most important steps. During this stage, a group of individuals will be chosen to confront an addict, and the time and place will be chosen as well. Each member of the group should also plan what they will say during the intervention. It is during this step that a group of individuals will also first meet with an intervention specialist.

2. Starting a substance abuse intervention

A substance abuse intervention starts when an addict – who should be unaware of what will take place – is asked to show up at a specific time and place. The intervention specialist and the group of concerned loved ones will then explain the purpose for the intervention and try to convince the addict to simply sit and listen.

3. Executing a substance abuse intervention

A substance abuse intervention should be executed with care. Members of the confronting group should address the addict with care and concern, not anger and disrespect. The purpose of an intervention is to reassure an addict that the group has his or her best interests at heart and wants to see them in treatment. Each member of the group will then usually provide specific examples of the problems that the addiction has caused and how it has affected them.

4. Ending a substance abuse intervention

A substance abuse intervention will often end with an ultimatum. The addict is faced with either seeking treatment or facing the consequences. At the end of most interventions, loved ones will usually make it clear that as long as an addict continues to use drugs or alcohol, he or she will no longer receive any support from them. This is often a very difficult, yet necessary, step for loved ones.

5. Follow-up after an intervention

Immediately following an intervention, an addict will need to make a decision about whether he or she will seek treatment or not. If an addict decides to seek treatment, an intervention specialist can help set up substance abuse treatment. If not, the loved ones must follow through with the consequences set forth at the end of the intervention. In this case, loved ones are usually encouraged to seek counseling themselves to help them better understand addiction and how to deal with it.

Substance abuse intervention: How long does it take?

The actual intervention itself  can last anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or longer. The length of time it takes will depend on such factors as how receptive an addict is and how many loved ones are confronting him or her.

Still, there is no set time for a substance abuse intervention. Some interventions will only take a few days from start to finish, while others may take several weeks. The planning stage of a substance abuse intervention will usually take the longest. It may take several weeks to organize and plan.

Treatment immediately following an intervention often lasts several months or even several years. A stay in a residential treatment facility, for instance, can last anywhere from a month to a year. Aftercare and family counseling, though, may last for several years following the intervention and treatment.

Substance abuse intervention duration and average time

As mentioned above, it can be difficult to pin down a substance abuse intervention duration and average time. The duration of a substance abuse intervention will depend on many factors. Anyone interested in planning an intervention should speak to a qualified intervention specialist, who will be able to give you an accurate average time estimate for your intervention.

Can substance abuse intervention be forced?

In a sense, most substance abuse interventions are forced. The addict is not informed of the intervention beforehand. While an addict may not enjoy it, he or she is often given no choice but to listen during an intervention. The ultimatums given at the end of an intervention may also force an addict into treatment as well.

However, an addict is not physically restrained during an intervention or substance abuse treatment. They have their own free will and are able to leave the intervention or treatment program at any time. They must be willing to accept the consequences of their actions, though.

Substance abuse intervention time

Planning and executing a substance abuse intervention can be both nerve wracking and intimidating. Because of this, a qualified intervention specialist can be invaluable during this difficult time.

However, we’re also here to help. If you have any questions about substance abuse, intervention time, or how to handle an intervention, feel free to leave them in the comments section below. We’ll address your concerns as soon as we can.

Reference Sources: MAYO Clinic: Intervention: Help a loved one overcome addiction
Drug Abuse: Drug Intervention Programs
Intervention Center: frequently Asked Questions
The HILLS Treatment Center: What To Expect During an Intervention
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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