Naomi had been addicted to painkillers for four years when her family stepped in. They conducted an intervention with the help of professionals and five hours later, Naomi was headed to a residential rehab centre in Bedfordshire for a three-month stint.
Everything in Naomi’s life had been considered before the intervention, from the security of her job to the care of her children. Her family had spent weeks with professionals learning about addiction and what needed to occur to change Naomi’s behaviour. On the day of the intervention every scenario had been prepared for and in the end everything went smoothly.
The concept of family intervention was born in America where it has proved popular, however in the UK it is approached with an element of skepticism. An intervention has plenty of scope for drama with its focus on the ‘bottom line’ and consequences that come from crossing it. In Britain, the idea almost goes against our values, feeling more like a TV show than a medical model.
And ironically, it is a TV show in America; ‘Intervention’ has around two million viewers who watch an addict struggle before their family holds an intervention. Having said that, it is America’s most successful addiction treatment. After an intervention the addict has a long stay at a residential rehab centre and this combination achieves a long-term recovery rate of over 50%. Compare this to the 2-5% of heroin addicts who manage to achieve a stable recovery using the UK’s methadone clinics and you can see why Britain is showing an interest.
Intervention has started to gain popularity in the UK, however crucial differences between the U.S. and the UK are slowing things down. Intervention works so well in America because of its pay-as-you-go healthcare system, in the UK intervention falls outside of NHS funding which tends to favour a fast detox followed by substitute medication. While intervention and long-term rehab stays produce the best recovery rates, in the shorter term addiction is cheaper to manage than cure in the UK.
With methadone-related deaths rising in the UK, perhaps it is time we thought about addiction differently and work to address issues and cure the problem rather than sticking a cheaper band-aid over the wound.
Uncovering the root cause of addictive behaviours and discussing them with a counsellor can help treat addiction. For more information and to find a counsellor near you, please see our Addictions page.
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