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  • Many people who struggle with substance abuse and addiction experience frequent crises. For example, they might face damaged relationships, job loss, legal troubles, or serious illness. 

    These situations can wreak havoc on a person’s mental health and worsen their reliance on drugs. That’s where crisis intervention comes in.

    What Is Crisis Intervention?

    Crisis intervention is immediate, short-term care of an individual in crisis. It’s meant to protect the individual from long-lasting, crisis-induced damage, such as serious mental health issues.

    Most crisis interventions last between one and three months. They often involve various types of health care providers, and a crisis intervention team may include counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, doctors, nurses, and emergency department staff. 

    Depending on the person’s needs, intervention sessions may be held at an addiction treatment center, a hospital, a social services department, or the person’s home. 

    All crisis interventions start with an assessment. A counselor will interview the person about the crisis’s impact and any past crises the person experienced. This information helps the counselor (and other professionals involved in the intervention) offer more personalized support. 

    The next steps of the intervention depend on the person, the type of crisis, and the severity of the crisis. However, most interventions include the following steps:

    Improving Awareness

    When you struggle with substance abuse or addiction, you may deny or underestimate the severity of your struggles. During crisis intervention, a counselor will help you recognize how your behavior has harmed you and those around you. 

    In general, when you realize that your behavior has contributed to your current crisis, you’ll feel more empowered and motivated to change that behavior.

    Recognizing Strength

    Some people feel they’re not strong enough to overcome a crisis. Your counselor will help you understand that no matter what you’ve experienced or how devastating your situation is, you can make the choices necessary to improve your life.

    Understanding Root Causes

    It’s much easier to overcome substance abuse and related crises when you know why you started abusing drugs in the first place. Your counselor will help you identify and manage the causes of your crisis, such as stress, grief, or underlying mental illness. 

    Learning Coping Skills

    During this step, you’ll learn specific coping strategies and problem solving skills to help you move on from the crisis. The strategies and skills depend on your specific needs. 

    For instance, if you’re experiencing an intense mental health crisis, you may learn self-care strategies, stress management techniques, and suicide prevention skills. 

    Who Needs A Crisis Intervention?

    Crisis interventions can benefit anyone experiencing a crisis. However, they’re especially necessary for people who seem unable to handle the crisis on their own. 

    If you’re not sure whether a loved one is facing a crisis and needs an intervention, look for these signs:

    • mood swings
    • irritability
    • anxiety
    • trouble concentrating 
    • symptoms of depression, including hopelessness, helplessness, and loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
    • sudden changes in eating and/or sleeping habits
    • withdrawal from friends and family members
    • frequent conflicts with others

    What Happens After A Crisis Intervention?

    If your substance abuse is mild or started recently, the crisis intervention might be all you need to turn your life around and become sober. 

    However, if you’re like many people, your substance abuse may have already progressed to physical dependence or addiction.

    In these cases, your crisis intervention counselor can give you a referral to an addiction treatment program. They may recommend certain types of programs based on your needs. 

    Addiction Treatment

    If you have a moderate-to-severe addiction, your counselor may suggest inpatient treatment. 

    During inpatient treatment, you’ll live at a treatment center and receive 24/7 care. If you have a mild addiction and a strong support system at home, your counselor may recommend outpatient care, which means you’ll live at home while regularly attending a treatment center.

    Dual Diagnosis Care

    If you struggle with any co-occurring mental health conditions (such as anxiety or schizophrenia), your counselor will recommend dual diagnosis treatment

    Available on an inpatient or outpatient basis, this type of treatment addresses substance abuse and addiction alongside other mental health concerns. 

    To learn more about crisis intervention services, please reach out to an Ark Behavioral Health specialist. We offer a wide range of evidence-based treatments to help you or your loved one lead a healthy, sober life. 

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.
    Article Sources

    California State University Channel Islands - Crisis Intervention
    Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - National Guidelines for Behavioral Health Crisis Care
    United States National Library of Medicine - Crisis Intervention

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