A successful intervention is not a confrontation but an opportunity for an addicted individual to accept help in taking the first step toward recovery.

A drug intervention is a structured, solution-oriented process undertaken to persuade someone who has a problem with drug or alcohol abuse to seek help in overcoming the addiction. Family, friends, and others involved in the person's life use the intervention to demonstrate the extent of the effects of substance abuse or alcoholism and related behaviors.

Recognizing the Signs of Abuse and Addiction

Drug abuse affects people from all walks of life and all socioeconomic statuses. Whatever the reason a person starts taking drugs, tolerance and dependency can develop quickly, before the user even realizes the pattern of addiction taking hold. When tolerance becomes full-blown addiction, it can be extremely difficult to stop the pattern of abuse.

Breaking free from the hold of addiction often requires outside help. Drug abuse wreaks havoc on the body and mind and can eventually kill. When you realize that you or someone you love has a problem, it's essential to get help right away. If you or someone you know needs treatment for drug abuse, we can help.

Abuse of most substances will produce noticeable signs and symptoms. These may include physical or behavioral symptoms, most likely both.

Physical Symptoms

Some of the most noticeable symptoms of drug abuse are those that affect the body’s inner workings. For example, your body’s tolerance to a drug occurs when a drug is abused for long enough that increased quantities or strengths are required to achieve the previous effects. This desire for a more intense high, achieved through these means, is extremely dangerous and can easily lead to overdose.

The diminishing effects set in after the first time, and the user constantly tries to replicate the first high he or she gets from the drug by taking increasing amounts. This is extremely dangerous and can quickly lead to overdose.

Changes in appearance can be additional clues to possible drug use and may include:

  • Bloodshot or glazed eyes.
  • Dilated or constricted pupils.
  • Abrupt weight changes.
  • Bruises, infections, or other physical signs at the drug’s entrance site on the body.

Disruption to normal brain functioning, changes in personality, and heart and organ dysfunction can be signs of long-term drug abuse. Signs will vary based on the substance. Click on any drug above to learn more.

Behavioral Symptoms

Drug abuse negatively affects a person's behavior and habits as he or she becomes more dependent on the drug. The drug itself can alter the brain's ability to focus and form coherent thoughts, depending on the substance.

Changes in behavior, such as the following, can indicate a problem with drug abuse:

  • Increased aggression or irritability.
  • Changes in attitude/personality.
  • Lethargy.
  • Depression.
  • Sudden changes in a social network.
  • Dramatic changes in habits and/or priorities.
  • Financial problems.
  • Involvement in criminal activity.

Getting Clean and Sober

The decision to seek out a clean and sober lifestyle is one of the most important steps in the recovery process. Since addiction is such a widespread condition, anyone seeking help will find numerous options for treatment.

These treatment options are designed to help walk a person through the steps to sobriety, which can make the transition easier.

How an Intervention Works

Deciding to stop using drugs may be a difficult decision for a person to make. Even if drugs are causing a disruption in a person’s life, the compulsion to abuse substances habitually often overcomes any desire to quit. In some cases, the family and friends of an addict may consider holding an intervention.

During an intervention, each person needs to plead with the person to consider rehabilitation. While it is important to confront the person with the harsh realities of his or her drug use—including the negative effects the drugs have on the person’s relationships with loved ones—this confrontation should be one tackled with compassion and an understanding of the struggle of drug addiction.

Methods for Drug Withdrawal and Detoxing from Drugs

Before an addict can begin a rehabilitation program, full withdrawal or detoxification may be necessary. During this process, the body adjusts to its drug-free state and rids itself of the remainder of the drug. Some detox programs use controlled amounts of medicinal drugs to help a person through this process.

Rehab and Addiction Treatment Options

A doctor or addiction specialist or counselor can help each individual find the right rehabilitation or treatment option. The setting is determined by individual needs, so some people may benefit from an inpatient rehab, while others may thrive by using an outpatient program.

At the core, the goal is to help a former addict assimilate into a drug-free life as easily as possible. The most commonly used treatment options for addiction include:

  • Psychotherapy, which helps patients learn how to resist and redirect compulsions.
  • Support groups
  • Individual counseling

Aftercare and Relapse Prevention

Relapse is best prevented by structured cognitive-behavioral therapy. By learning about drug abuse prevention and avoid situations that may cause compulsions or cravings, a person is more likely to retain control and make the decision to not seek out or use drugs. Utilizing therapy or support groups as aftercare options can reduce the potential for relapse.

Support Groups and Recovery Tools

The guidance of an experienced peer can be invaluably helpful to someone going through the initial steps of sobriety.

At times, an addiction can seem like a personal struggle that no one around you understands. For this reason, drug addiction support groups can help recovering addicts find comfort in their peers.

Depending on the person’s location, there may be a single support group for anyone recovering from an addiction, or there may be groups tailored to those recovering from a specific drug. In addition to providing support as a group, these organizations often pair up new members with existing members who have maintained sobriety for an extended amount of time. The guidance of an experienced peer can be invaluably helpful to someone going through the initial steps of sobriety.