19 Jan How Vancouver Interventions Help Save Lives

In 2019, the BC Coroners’ Service data showed that 182 people in Vancouver died of an overdose within the first six months of last year, and although the number of deaths from drug overdoses is falling, Vancouver continues to have the highest number of deaths than all other B.C. municipalities.

The overdose crisis has not been ignored. Safe sites, naloxone kits, and public education campaigns have been rolled out to help address the issue. One measure that has been taken to help prevent overdose deaths is the safe supply of drugs.

Increasing access to a safe supply helps ensure that people addicted to substance abuse don’t accidently overdose on drugs contaminated with fentanyl or carfentanil. This method of harm reduction allows people struggling with addictions to live safer lives, and it may be the first step that leads to an intervention.
However, despite the known dangers of these high-risk drugs, many people actively seek Fentanyl. The high is so much more potent that they are willing to dance with death.

What a Vancouver Interventionist Can Do to Help

A drug intervention can help a person recognize the danger of their addiction and take steps to manage their addiction or enter into a treatment program. This is not an easy task.

When someone has an addiction, whether it is drugs, gambling, alcohol, or sex, they will vehemently deny they have a problem. They will fight for their right to continue supporting their addiction, often lying, stealing and becoming abusive, alienated, and hostile. Professional expertise is needed to know how to approach the patient, and how to hold a constructive conversation that helps them understand the danger of their addiction and accept they must take steps to manage it.

Holding an intervention is like throwing a life jacket to someone who is drowning but refuses to acknowledge they are drowning. An interventionist helps them accept the fact that they are in danger and they need to grab hold of the life jacket.

Every person is a unique individual with their own story, physical and mental challenges, and history. To ensure an intervention is successful, an interventionist will work closely with each patient and their family to understand the best approach to take. They need to identify trigger points, the people who would be best suited to attend the intervention, and they need to understand what makes the patient more receptive. One interventionist found that the patient was more calm and receptive when her pet cat was present, so she made sure the cat was present for each meeting.

Different Intervention Models

An intervention is not a ‘one size fits all’ kind of deal, and each interventionist will have a range of strategies and tools in their tool kit to help deal with a variety of situations.

Two commonly used but different models of intervention are the Johnson model and the Arise model.

The Johnson model – engages family or friends in a surprise confrontation where the patient is told about the damage the drinking or drug use has caused and is causing and the actions his or her family will take if the patient refuses treatment. This method has been highly effective in encouraging clients to accept treatment. Depending on the circumstances, character, and needs of the patient, the interventionist may use a variation of the established methods.

The Arise model – takes a slightly different approach. This intervention does not surprise or shock the patient. Instead, the patient is invited to the intervention, there is no coercion, and throughout the intervention there is an atmosphere of absolute respect and love. The interventionist will ensure that there is no shame, judgment, or recrimination allowed in the conversation.

Making the decision to quit drugs takes time. An addiction is difficult to overcome. It has taken control of the body and mind, but the right interventionist can help guide the family and patient through a successful drug intervention.

As a professional interventionist, Andy Bhatti has been helping people in Vancouver with addiction interventions for years. If you are worried about a loved one’s substance abuse, call an interventionist to find out the best steps to take.



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