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How do psychotherapist-mediated substance and drug use interventions work?

Family and friends may compile a list of concerns, feelings, and consequences to which they collectively agree—such as a spouse and children leaving the individual if they do not agree to get help. A poorly planned intervention may do more harm than good, but interventions supervised by a mental health professional may result in better outcomes. Most important is that the individual is willing to get the help they need.

Who can diagnose substance and drug use disorders?

Substance and drug use disorders can be diagnosed by a physician or a mental health professional. A primary care doctor or specialised physician may order blood level and urine screen tests to assess the extent of substance use. A mental health professional such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, or substance use expert will ask questions to understand the nature and extent of an individual’s problem.

How can a person be encouraged to seek therapy for drug use?

When approaching an individual with any type of intervention, it is important to maintain a calm, non-judgmental approach in a quiet, private setting. The individual should be given specific examples of their behavior, such as delusional statements that they may have made while intoxicated. Prior to the conversation, treatment and appointment options and insurance coverage should be considered on the individual’s behalf so they are not overwhelmed by the prospect of seeking therapy.

Why are substance and drug use treatment methods so varied?

There is not one type of treatment method that will work for every individual who suffers from substance use. If a person cannot tolerate complete abstinence then harm reduction may be more effective. Likewise, living in an inpatient recovery facility may not be effective for one person, while it may be for another person.