Intervention Should Be A First Priority, Not The Last Resort

A brief history of Interventions

Sometimes family members mistakenly believe that conducting or orchestrating an intervention with a loved one who is suffering from addiction and whose life is out of control is the last resort. They may liken it to throwing someone a life preserver to aid in the steps to recovery. They also believe that interventions are a relatively new concept to utilize when seeking help for their loved ones. It may surprise you to learn that interventions originated in the 1960s!

It was in the 1960s when Dr. Vernon Johnson, an Episcopal priest and recovering alcoholic, concluded, according to a Wikipedia article:

…that an alcoholic did not need to “hit rock bottom” before recovery. ‘He introduced the concept of intervention by family, friends, and employers. He supported “early intervention”, because it interrupted the progression of the disease of alcoholism before the disease completely destroyed the alcoholic’s life.’

 

Learning about interventions via television

In 2005 A&E launched the television series INTERVENTION. For many people learning about this series and watching this series was their first exposure to the concept of an intervention. If you are a regular viewer, then you know that these episodes are dramatic sometimes ending with very good results and sometimes leaving the viewing public with a sense of a cliffhanger.  Almost always, the intervention is taking place with someone who is at or very near “rock bottom,” as opposed to early in their disease.

New research examines early intervention

In January 2013 there have been a number of articles published dealing with the efficacy of offering early intervention, particularly dealing with teenagers and college aged students. For example, in JAMA Psychiatry the research results were published first online from a study conducted in the United Kingdom:
Effectiveness of a Selective, Personality-Targeted Prevention Program for Adolescent Alcohol Use and Misuse.

An overview of the study…

This study was referred to as an “Adventure Trial” and the parameters were:

  • 21 schools in London were involved in the study
  • 2,548 students with an average age of 13.8 years were selected and classified as high or low risk of developing future alcohol dependency
  • High risk students’ profiles included personality traits like anxiety, impulsivity, sensation-seeking and hopelessness
  • Four members of staff in each intervention school were trained to deliver group workshops targeting the personality profiles

Study findings, according to PsychCentral:

  •  “After two years, high-risk students in intervention schools were at a 29 percent reduced risk of drinking, 43 percent reduced risk of binge drinking and 29 percent reduced risk of problem drinking compared to high-risk students in control schools.”
  •  “Additionally, over the two year period, low-risk teenagers in the intervention schools, who did not receive the intervention, were at a 29 percent reduced risk of taking up drinking and 35 percent reduced risk of binge drinking compared to the low-risk group in the non-intervention schools, indicating a possible ‘herd effect’ in this population.”

 

Intervention should be a first priority

Obviously, the study discussed above has to do with promoting efforts early on in a person’s life, while in middle school or high school, to help prevent or reduce the risk of one developing an addiction. And these efforts are to be applauded, but many times no matter how involved different social communities become in one’s life addiction can and will take hold. So what should family members do to help their loved one?

First and foremost, be aware. When you see signs of an addictive disorder, pay attention. Do not be afraid of asking non-judgmental questions. Secondly, talk to your family physician. Third, if you have other extended family members who have dealt with addiction, seek their counsel. Fourth, if your employer offers an Employee Assistance Program, then take advantage of its services.  And, finally but early on, contact an interventionist, discuss your options.

Consider an intervention for your loved one early on; don’t wait until you or your loved one is dealing with the physical, mental, financial and spiritual toll of addiction.

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Marketing Alcohol To Underage Youth ~ Experts Discuss Importance Of Intervention

The power of alcohol marketing

It is January 1, 2013. There will be many football bowl games televised today: The Gator Bowl, The Heart of Dallas Bowl, Capital One Bowl, Outback Bowl, Discover Orange Bowl and, of course, The Rose Bowl.  There will be numerous advertisements throughout the games; however, the content of these ads is somewhat controlled by National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) advertising policy which states:

“The NCAA’s Advertising and Promotional Standards applicable to all NCAA championships limits alcohol advertising in any form (e.g., television, radio, Internet, game publications) in association with any NCAA championship to malt beverages, beer and wine products that do not exceed six percent alcohol by volume. Further, such advertisements shall not compose more than 60 seconds per hour of any NCAA championship programming nor compose more than 14 percent of the space in the NCAA publication (e.g., game program) devoted to advertising. Also, such advertisements or advertisers shall incorporate “Drink Responsibly” educational messaging, and the content of all such advertisements shall be respectful (e.g., free of gratuitous and overly suggestive sexual innuendo, no displays of disorderly, reckless or destructive behavior) as determined by the NCAA on a case-by-case basis.”

The truth is marketing materials for alcoholic beverages can be seen almost everywhere. Just paging through the most recent issue of TIME Magazine (December 31, 2012-January 7, 2013) you will find a stunning ad for Chivas Regal, complete with the educational message: Please enjoy Chivas responsibly.

Marketing alcohol to under-age youth

While marketing alcohol to anyone of any age is highly regulated, most will agree that the main goal of advertising campaigns is not just to sell more product, but to build brand awareness and customer loyalty. Many studies have been conducted regarding the sheer numbers of alcoholic advertisements which are exposed to under-age youth. One estimate states that 45% of the commercials viewed by young people each year are advertisements for alcohol.

New study examines initiation and progression of alcohol use in underage youth…

On December 19, 2012, the online issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research published the results of a study: Alcohol Marketing Receptivity, Marketing-Specific Cognitions, and Underage Binge Drinking.

This study was conducted by lead author Auden C. McClure, MD, MPH of the Department of Pediatrics, Geisel School of Medicine, Hanover, New Hampshire and Norris Cotton Cancer Center, Lebanon, New Hampshire. Data was gathered and analyzed using the following methods:

  • 1,734 subjects ages 15-to-20 year olds were recruited
  • 882 males and 852 females
  • Participants were asked about exposure to a number of alcohol-marketing variables, such as television time, internet time, favorite alcohol advertisement, ownership of alcohol branded merchandise, exposure to alcohol brands in movies.
  • Researchers assessed the relation between the above mentioned exposures and current binge drinking behaviors

 

Study’s findings

According to Dr. McClure, as reported by EurekAlert.org:

“We found that youth with a higher receptivity to alcohol advertising are more likely to report binge drinking – more than five drinks in a row – and that this association is mediated, at least in part, by self-identification as a drinker and having a favorite brand of alcohol to drink,” said McClure. “Further longitudinal studies are needed to determine whether advertising exposure precedes the development of these cognitions and influences future drinking behavior. If confirmed, the findings would support the plausibility of a causal relationship between marketing exposures and underage drinking.”

 

Intervention and risky behaviors

If you are a parent of a teenager or young college student, then chances are you are cognizant of how your child responds to advertisements of all kinds. You know this from the time your child reaches toddler age. They see advertisements on television for certain food products, toys, movies…and a new consumer comes to life. You know this when you take your child to the grocery store or a fast food restaurant, you even know it when your child talks about a new toy their playmate recently received.

As parents, we know intuitively that advertising works, so it makes perfect sense that exposure to alcohol marketing also works. But what do we do about it?

As Dr. McClure indicates, other studies have shown that: “Early onset of alcohol use is linked to alcohol dependence later in life, making both prevention and early intervention of risk behaviors important. A better understanding of the path between marketing and risk behaviors could help parents, health care providers, clinical psychologists, and substance use treatment specialists to identify and intervene when an adolescent is at risk.”

Substance use treatment specialists and interventionists understand the importance of intervening early when an adolescent or young adult is at risk.

As 2013 begins, consider taking the appropriate steps to reduce the chances that your child will develop alcohol dependence.

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