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When a person’s drinking patterns worsen and become eminently dangerous, their family and friends may choose to intervene. An alcohol intervention is a professionally led meeting to discuss concerns about a loved one’s drinking behaviors. The goal of an intervention is to encourage someone to seek the proper treatment they need and deserve.
An alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a progressive, chronic disease. Because of this, you shouldn’t sit back and wait for the condition to get better. In fact, waiting to intervene can cause more damage to a person’s overall health and wellness.
An alcohol intervention is an opportunity for someone to recognize and get treatment for their alcohol use disorder (AUD). While some interventions take place when severe or life-threatening consequences arise, others are done soon after the warning signs of alcoholism are identified.
Keep in mind that your loved one may know they have a drinking problem, but is unwilling to come to terms with it. Sometimes an alcohol intervention brings up many unwanted feelings, which can be an emotional experience for all of the parties involved. For instance, family members may explain how their loved one’s excessive drinking has resulted in damaged relationships or unmet needs. This can be difficult for someone to hear and may produce a sense of sadness, anxiety or even anger. Although it’s not always easy, the sooner you intervene, the better the chances for a successful recovery.
Before staging an alcohol intervention with your loved one, be sure to think about what you will say and who will be involved. An alcohol counselor or other medical professional can provide you with information about the intervention process and guide you along the way. Give us a call to talk with one of our treatment specialists to learn more.
Is an Alcohol Intervention Necessary?
Most planned interventions—in which family members, friends and other attendees are fully educated and trained for the situation—are highly successful. On average, about 90 percent of loved ones struggling with an AUD will commit to getting treatment after an intervention.
The days leading up to an intervention can be nerve-wracking and stressful. While organizing the meeting details, make sure everyone is aware of the potential challenges that can stem from the discussion. You may even want to prepare and practice the intervention beforehand to work through any difficult situations.
An intervention can make all the difference in getting your loved one’s life back on track. Not only will it help them learn about alcohol treatment options available, it will also show the support and love they have from those closest to them.
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How Does an Alcohol Intervention Work?
For the best chance of having a successful alcohol intervention, you should spend time collecting information and gathering your thoughts. This is an important conversation for everyone involved, and therefore, should be carefully planned.
Here is a breakdown of how to stage an alcohol intervention:
Learn About What an Intervention Entails
First and foremost, you should research and learn as much as possible about AUDs, interventions and types of treatment. This will help you understand the effects of alcohol, such as how it affects your loved one’s physical and emotional well-being.
Use the information you find to start putting a plan in place about what to discuss and who to include in the intervention. Every intervention is unique, so you can change things to make it personal and relatable for your loved one.
Get Help from an Alcohol Counselor or Medical Professional
While professional help is not required for an intervention to take place, it’s helpful to have a moderator that can keep the conversation on track. An alcohol counselor or medical professional will be able to guide you in your preparations before the meeting with your loved one. For example, they can assist you in determining the specific situations to bring up and how to explain them.
Additionally, it is often recommended to conduct an intervention in the presence of a counselor or specialist if your loved one has a history of extreme mood swings or violence. If the conversation begins to take a turn for the worse, a professional will be able to mitigate the situation and keep everyone safe.
Stage an Intervention with Your Loved One
Once you have established the specifics about the intervention including individuals involved and topics to be discussed, it is time to schedule a time and place for the meeting. Realize that an intervention can trigger a wide range of emotions, so prepare yourself for both a good or bad reaction.
No matter what, know that you have your loved one’s best interest in mind. It’s tough to watch someone struggle with a drinking problem and destroy their life. By intervening and providing recovery resources, you are doing everything in your power to help. However, it’s up to your loved one to acknowledge their dangerous drinking habits and seek treatment.
Identify Specific Situations and Examples
During the conversation with your loved one, give examples to support your concerns. Focus on the emotional, physical, personal and professional problems that have occurred due to their excessive drinking habits. Pinpointing specific situations will help your loved one understand where you are coming from and what needs to change.
Remain calm and collected as you discuss various matters with your loved one. If the conversation gets heated at any given time, take a moment to regain your thoughts. Getting worked up or frustrated will only worsen the situation and make your loved one feel defensive. This is why many professionals recommend practicing what you will say or writing it down ahead of time in order to keep the conversation on topic.
Provide Information About Alcohol Treatment
At the end of the intervention, offer treatment resources and solutions that will help your loved one overcome their AUD. It’s important that an individual does not feel blamed or attacked during the conversation. This will only cause them to put their guard up and refuse to listen to what is being said.
When discussing treatment centers with your loved one, let them know that you will be there to support and encourage them every step of the way. Getting help for an AUD is a huge decision for someone to make. Remind your loved one about the happier times in their life when alcohol didn’t control their emotions and health. With the the help of professional alcohol treatment specialists, they can take back control of their life and their happiness.
After an intervention, family members and friends follow through with their promises, such as not enabling their loved one’s drinking problem by financially supporting them.
Even if an alcohol intervention is not successful at first, an individual may reach out for help at a later date when they’re ready to get help.
It’s important to show your loved one that they are not alone on the journey to recovery – an alcohol intervention may be exactly what they need to save their life.
Alcohol Intervention Goals
The primary goal of an alcohol intervention is to motivate your loved one to seek treatment. Depending on the severity of their AUD, different types of therapy may be recommended. For example, inpatient rehab is typically recommended for more serious cases of alcoholism. An inpatient rehab provides 24/7 care for your loved one and offers an array of services such as alcohol detox, counseling, activities, support groups and medication-assisted therapy. After successfully completing rehab, your loved one will be referred to various on-going treatment programs in your community. This will give them an opportunity meet other peers in recovery, discuss real world situations with sponsors and continue on their journey to long-term sobriety.
While many alcohol interventions conclude on a positive note, there is a chance that it could not end so well. There are several reasons as to why an intervention may fail such as your loved one refusing to recognize they have a drinking problem or thinking that they do not need treatment. In cases such as these, it’s important to remember that your loved one must be fully invested for recovery to work. You can stage an intervention and try to help, but the final decision is theirs alone.
Here are some things to keep in mind if your loved one responds negatively to the intervention:
- Take a deep breath and remember that defeating an AUD is a process, and an intervention is a strong first step
- Keep in mind that alcoholism is a disease and that those affected by it are physically dependent on alcohol consumption
- Understand that even if your loved one refuses help at first, they have been given various recovery tools and resources to consider
- Stay positive and continue trying to offer support
If you’re ready to stage an alcohol intervention for your loved one, help is available. Our treatment specialists can talk to you about recovery resources and programs.
Take the first step by reaching out to us today.
- Author — Last Edited: December 10, 2018
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (2015). Intervention – Tips and Guidelines. October 2016. https://www.ncadd.org/family-friends/there-is-help/intervention-tips-and-guidelines
Mayo Clinic. (2014). Intervention: Help a loved one overcome addiction. October 2016. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mental-illness/in-depth/intervention/art-20047451
American Public Health Association. Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention. October 2016. http://www.integration.samhsa.gov/clinical-practice/alcohol_screening_and_brief_interventions_a_guide_for_public_health_practitioners.pdf
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. How to Conduct a Brief Intervention. October 2016. http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/Practitioner/PocketGuide/pocket_guide8.htm
Centers for Disease and Control. (2014). Planning and Implementing Screening and Brief Intervention for Risky Alcohol Use. October 2016. http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/fasd/documents/alcoholsbiimplementationguide.pdf
World Health Organization. Screening and brief intervention for alcohol problems in primary health care. October 2016. http://www.who.int/substance_abuse/activities/sbi/en/