There are several stages a person goes through on the road to addiction before they are diagnosed with a substance use disorder. These stages get progressively worse. A person who has just begun to move out of the experimentation stage and has started heavier binge or frequent use of drugs or alcohol is a good candidate for a brief intervention. Brief interventions are usually held in a doctor’s office or with another healthcare provider and are quick counseling sessions that are aimed at getting the individual to stop drug or alcohol use.

Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment

The program that outlines this type of service is often called a Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT). This covers a wide range of substance use disorders, and upon assessment, doctors and other healthcare providers can help recommend an appropriate level of care, which could range from providing some information all the way up to admitting into a hospital other form of residential treatment center.

Families may not be aware of the drug or alcohol use yet, which is why this is commonly done in a doctor’s office. As part of any checkup doctors are required to ask about drug and alcohol use. The patient will be asked how much they drink and how often. They will also be asked if they use any drugs, what drugs and how often. If a patient answers these questions in a way that alerts a medical professional of a potential problem, they can decide to do a brief intervention. This means that they will present the individual with information about addiction or abuse and what sort of options that person has in order to quit using.

Options for people who are on the road to serious substance use disorders are similar to those who have full blown addictions. Many families will choose to send their loved one treatment as a way to fend off future addiction problems. Other people will choose to get therapy or simply abstain. Ideally these choices would be made as a family, with all the information. However, some people will simply make a decision to do something or not on their own. Ignoring the problem or refusing to change can also be a sign that your loved one is moving into a substance use disorder.

Benefit of Brief Interventions

There is value in brief interventions because, if caught at the right time, it can prevent an addiction from developing. However, if a person is not willing to change their behavior or be honest with their medical provider, an addiction can go unnoticed or unchecked for years. In fact, most addicts spend a significant amount of time ensuring that those closest to them are left in the dark when it comes to their addiction problems. This allows the addict to continue using drugs and/or alcohol while also maintaining their family, careers and future endeavors.

When experimentation moves into more frequent substance abuse, family members and those closest to the individual will notice changes. The person needing help will begin to withdraw from activities, people and obligations. It will be difficult for the addict to account for missing money, valuables and time. Their physical appearance is likely to change as well. Extreme weight gain or loss, needle marks on the arms, and a general decrease in personal hygiene are all indicators that a drug or alcohol problem may be occurring. Because of this, it is vital that family members and loved ones bring any concerns or worries to a professional interventionist.