The Importance of Holding an Intervention for Opiate Use

The Importance of Holding an Intervention for Opiate Use


Opiates are a category of drugs known as narcotic opioid alkaloids that are found as natural products in the opium poppy plant. The category also includes semisynthetic chemical derivatives of such alkaloids, such as morphine, codeine, heroin and thebaine. Most of these drugs are prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain and work by dulling the pain perception center in the brain.

Opiate Side Effects

In the category of opiates, the side effects vary according to the specific drug but may include the following:

  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Headaches
  • Mood changes
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Abnormally low blood pressure (hypotension)
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Circulatory depression
  • Coma
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Shock
  • Constricted pupils
  • Low pulse and heart rate
  • Shallow, short, slowed or stopped breathing

Regardless of the specific opiate, the side effects can impact the way the user thinks, feels and behaves.

Importance of an Intervention

According to the Mayo Clinic, an intervention is a carefully planned process involving family and friends and sometimes colleagues, clergy members or others who care about a person struggling with addiction. During the intervention, these people gather together to confront the person about the consequences of addiction and ask him or her to accept treatment. Interventions include the following:

  • Providing specific examples of destructive behaviors and their impact on the addicted person and loved ones
  • Offering a prearranged treatment plan with clear steps, goals and guidelines
  • Spelling out what each person will do if the loved one refuses to accept treatment
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This description provides one strategy for an intervention that has a stronger focus on requiring a person to get treatment. Other strategies for an intervention have a more cooperative theme in which the addict accepts responsibility and voluntarily agrees to treatment.

Using an Interventionist

Regardless of whether the theme of your intervention leans towards cooperation or consequences, it is important to plan and execute the intervention so that you have the greatest chance for success. Determining whether to use an interventionist or not is often a difficult decision; however, the Mayo Clinic recommends you use an interventionist if the addict exhibits any of the following:

  • A history of mental illness
  • A history of violence
  • Suicidal behavior
  • A tendency to take mood-altering substances
  • Denial
  • The potential to react violently or self-destructively

While an interventionist may be necessary in these types of situations, you can also have an initial consultation with an interventionist to help you get started properly when planning your own intervention.

Components of a Successful Intervention

Interventions are often emotional experiences, so it is important to keep the following in mind as you plan for the intervention:

  • Plan. Establish the team, the roles of each member and the logistics of the intervention.
  • Do your homework. Understand the addiction and get all of the necessary information from the selected treatment facility to make sure that you can transition from intervention to treatment quickly.
  • Share and rehearse. Each member of the intervention team should know what the other team members know about the addict, the treatment program and any other information; there should be no surprises. If necessary, actually rehearse the intervention.

Keeping on track and not letting emotions rule the meeting will help make the intervention successful.

Help an Addicted Loved One Today

An intervention is an effective strategy for many people who are addicted to drugs. However, planning and conducting an intervention is not always easy, but we can help. Please call our toll-free number today. We are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you might have about interventions.