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Crisis Interventions

If you or a loved one are currently living with or have lived with addiction, you know how difficult it can be to keep life in order. Substance use disorder can complicate all aspects of daily living. This is especially true for people who have a mental health diagnosis in addition to a diagnosis of substance use disorder.

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How Crisis Interventions Work

Many people who live with an addiction to drugs or alcohol seem to move from one stressful situation to another. As a caring friend or family member, it can be hard to know when outside help is needed. This is especially true if your loved one is in denial of their addiction or their additional mental health issues.

Here, we’ll learn more about crisis intervention, and how to know if your loved one is in need of help from an intervention specialist.

What Are Crisis Interventions?

Clinically, crisis intervention is the creation of a change that provides immediate support and care for a person who is under extreme physical, psychological, or emotional stress.

People who do not live with substance use disorder may experience crises such as death, job loss, illness, mental health issues, end of a relationship, or severe financial hardships. Without substance abuse issues, many people are able to lean on their established healthcare providers and support systems and get through a crisis without outside help.

For people who live with substance use disorder, crises can become more complicated. A person who suffers from addiction may find themselves in crisis situations more often than someone who is not managing addiction.

Dealing with a crisis in the midst of addiction can be especially challenging. Withdrawal symptoms, homelessness, legal issues, financial difficulties, relationship problems, and other issues can make an already challenging crisis even more difficult.

In the field of addiction care, crisis intervention works to stabilize those who are in an active crisis before transitioning them to a longer-term plan.

Knowing If Your Loved One Is In Crisis

When someone you love is living with addiction, it can be hard to determine when they’re experiencing a crisis. Many people who suffer from addiction find themselves trapped in a cycle of lies, and may make up stories in order to manipulate those around them with the end goal of continuing to use their substance of choice.

Signs of crisis in a person who is struggling with addiction may include:

  • Intentional or accidental overdose.
  • Threatening suicide, or exhibiting behaviors associated with suicide (giving away belongings, saying things like “it’ll be easier for you when I’m gone,” sudden ease or lightness even though nothing about the person’s life has changed, saying goodbyes to loved ones).
  • Untreated health issues that may or may not be related to addiction.
  • Extreme psychological and emotional distress.
  • Engaging in unsafe or reckless behavior, such as putting themselves in harm’s way, driving while impaired, or threatening others.

When someone you love is in crisis, it can be scary to imagine what might happen if they don’t get the help they need. Depending on the situation, you may be able to work with law enforcement to have your loved one placed under an involuntary psychiatric hold, allowing a few days for them to be supervised by and receive treatment from medical professionals.

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Crisis Intervention: What To Expect For Your Loved One

Your loved one’s treatment team and/or professional interventionist will determine what crisis intervention techniques make the most sense for their situation.

Modes of crisis intervention treatment will differ for each client. For most clients, the first step of crisis intervention is to perform psychological first aid (assuming there is no immediate need for physical medical care).

Your loved one’s crisis interventionist will talk with your loved one to understand the crisis, allowing them to get a grasp on your loved one’s situation. Crisis interventionists are trained to serve as a non-judgemental sounding board when the time is right. A judgment-free listening ear can go a long way in times of crisis.

Your loved one’s interventionist will also ask questions that will allow them to assess your loved one’s state of mind. From there, they’ll be able to develop a plan that will help your loved one through their crisis, hopefully enabling them to move forward to non-crisis counseling.

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Levels Of Crisis Intervention

There are three traditional crisis intervention models: the equilibrium model, the cognitive model, and the psychosocial transition model. Each model of treatment is appropriate for a different stage of the crisis process.

  • The equilibrium model is used at the beginning of crisis treatment. The goal of this stage is to stabilize the client, without offering advice or finding ways to stop the crisis from happening again. This stage offers judgment-free, open, calm understanding, allowing your loved one to express their feelings and struggles.
  • In the cognitive model stage of treatment, practitioners operate under the assumption that the crisis is the result of distorted thinking related to an event. Often, people in crisis become so emotionally charged that it can be hard to see a way out of a difficult situation. During this stage of treatment, the individual has been stabilized and is more likely to be capable of a back-and-forth conversation that can have a productive outcome.
  • Finally, the psychosocial transition model concludes the crisis intervention process and ends by setting the client up with transitional services that can help them understand the root of their crisis. In this stage, clients may be able to develop strategies to limit future crises.

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Is Your Loved One In Crisis? What To Do Next

If you think that your loved one may be in crisis, it’s important that you don’t want to get help. At Addiction Interventions, we’re here to help. Reach out to us today for a free consultation with a trained interventionist. We believe in your loved one’s ability to get well — contact us today to learn more.