What Does Early Intervention Look Like?

Most people know that early intervention is key for addressing substance addiction among young people. What does early intervention entail in real life, though? Appropriate strategies are important to implement the mandate of early intervention, which often falls on the shoulders of parents and caregivers.

What Does Early Intervention Entail?

Early intervention means identifying and providing effective early support to young people who are at risk of substance use and addiction. This involves two major steps: identifying and providing support. The first step deals with risk factors, while the second step takes a proactive approach to risk reduction. In other words, effective early intervention chooses to tackle problems head-on before these same issues get worse.

Early intervention also involves setting up healthy relationship boundaries in the home, establishing coping skills for traumatic or stressful events, and fostering a sense of confidence and self-worth among young people. These can all minimize the need or want to use substances in the future for destressing or self-medication.

Early intervention must include a proactive education initiative to teach young people about the science behind substance addiction. Parents and educators need to convince young people about the long-term impact of harmful drugs on their well-being. If parents are not sure of how to educate their children, they should be open to working with professional interventionists who have expertise and experience in coaching young people.

How to Identify Early Signs of Substance Use

Many young people who develop substance addiction were exposed to drugs and alcohol during early adolescence. Some got exposed to family members who use, while others were offered the opportunity to experiment with drugs in their peer group. In many cases, parents are unsuspecting or unaware, losing the best early opportunities to intervene. It is therefore crucial for parents to educate themselves and know how to detect early signs as soon as possible.

In general, substance-using teens and adolescents tend to demonstrate unusual behaviors, such as social withdrawal, secrecy, sleep problems, and sometimes eating disorders. Parents who are involved in their children’s daily routines should be able to detect these and many other signs. There also tends to be a change of personality as the young person may resort to deception and disrespect towards others. Because those who use drugs later lose interest in things they were previously passionate about, there can be shifts in interests and hobbies, too.

What Does Early Intervention Require Parents to Do?

Once parents detect these early signs and confirm the presence of drugs in their children’s lives, they should not deny or delay the problem. The earlier the young person receives the treatment he or she needs, the more effective recovery can become. In reality, though, many parents tend to react emotionally and fail to implement the non-confrontational principle. Few want to involve external interventionists because of the shame and stigma. This tends to produce counter-productive outcomes.

The correct approach is to work with addiction and recovery experts immediately. As parents, you need to be educated, as well, and addiction is too complicated for one person to wrap their head about it overnight. Many parents feel hesitant to reach out because they are unaware of the resources available to them. All this lack of knowledge requires coaching from professional interventionists.

What Can Delayed Intervention Lead To?

Early intervention is key because once this window of opportunity is lost, it can be more difficult for a young person to recover. By the time parents find out, it is likely that many young people have been using substances for a long time. Repeated and long-term exposure to drugs and alcohol may change his or her brain structures in a way that becomes hard to reverse.

Even if they can maintain sobriety, for now, substance-using teens and adolescents face a higher risk of relapsing and getting addicted when they reach adulthood. For some drugs, delayed intervention can be life-threatening. Each year, many parents are shocked to find their teens and adolescents dying from an overdose of cocaine or other high potency drugs without even knowing that these children had addiction problems.

What Is the Role of Community Organizations?

Early intervention organizations act in many ways to help families succeed in co-leading the young generation. This includes home visiting programs to raise awareness among parents or to support vulnerable parents in high-risk homes. Schools may have problems improving students’ social and emotional skills. Some provide a mentor system for young people from high-risk backgrounds.

Effective early intervention can improve a young person's chance at life at any point. This means that it is better late than never to be involved in an early intervention program provided by neighborhood or community organizations. In sum, parents and educators as the first responders to teen addiction ought to implement effective early intervention, which should be guided by support, compassion, and understanding. They should be consistent in messaging and predictable in their actions. 

Most people know that early intervention is key for substance addiction among young people. But what does early intervention entail in real life? Strategies are important to implement the mandate of early intervention, which often falls on the shoulders of parents and caregivers. At South Florida Intervention, we can help. You can work with professional interventionists to learn more about early intervention strategies. Our professionally-trained interventionists have helped many teens and young adults achieve and maintain sobriety. We consider early intervention as key, no matter which stage one is at. There is always a chance to turn back, because addiction is a treatable disease. Parents can benefit from a range of services provided by South Florida Intervention, including recovery coaching, parent coaching, sober escorts, and ongoing case management. Change starts today. Come work with an interventionist for effective early prevention techniques. Call South Florida Intervention today at (202) 390-2273 to learn more.