An alcohol addiction can make it hard to recognize harm done to self or others. An alcohol intervention may be the first step to getting a loved one into treatment.
What Is An Alcohol Intervention?
An alcohol intervention takes place in a group or professional setting where an alcohol problem can be addressed by family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, employers, and community members.
An individual struggling with alcohol abuse may not be able to see that their drinking is hurting the people they love. Interventions are an effective way to describe how an individual’s drinking makes the group feel or affects each individual.
Interventions aren’t meant to be a chance for everyone to team up on a person with alcoholism and make them feel bad about their actions. An alcohol intervention should be conducted tastefully, and everyone’s feelings need to be considered.
Preparing For An Alcohol Intervention
An alcohol intervention may take weeks, even months, of preparation. It’s important for each team member to know the individual and his or her drinking habits. When staging an intervention, it’s important to understand what alcohol use disorders are and how to treat them.
An alcohol use disorder (AUD) occurs when a person’s use of alcohol causes significant impairment to their health, work, and relationships. Alcohol use disorder is defined by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism as a chronic, relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using alcohol.
It may help, when planning an intervention, to research how alcohol directly affects the body and mind. Alcohol has a powerful effect on people, and it’s highly addictive. Yet each person’s drinking habits are unique, and some people’s alcohol dependence becomes worse than others. Planning an alcohol intervention may vary from one person to another.
It’s important to remain patient over the course of an alcohol intervention because interventions take time. In the end, most interventions are successful, but knowing beforehand that a person may react negatively, and the intervention may not work, is helpful. It’s devastating when an intervention fails, but it may happen, so it’s best to be prepared.
Important things to remember when staging an alcohol intervention include:
- Make a plan. Be prepared for any outbursts of anger, resentment, hurtful comments, or reactions a person may have during an intervention.
- Know the extent of a loved one’s drinking problem.
- Research treatment programs. If an individual decides to get help, it’s beneficial to know what some potential next steps might be.
- Consider hiring a professional interventionist to help coordinate and conduct a productive intervention.
- Remember your loved one needs friends, not enemies.
- Alcohol interventions help, they don’t hinder. Saving a person from alcohol should be the main focus of an intervention.
- A person may not react the way an intervention team anticipated, and that’s okay. Any amount of team-effort shows a person struggling with alcohol that they have others who care about them.
- Not every family needs to have an intervention in order to get their loved one to stop drinking. Speak to a person who understands alcohol addiction to find out if an alcohol intervention is what’s best for a loved one.
- Have an ultimatum if an individual wishes to continue drinking. For instance, if a person does not stop drinking, they may be asked to move out, contribute to groceries, or lose allowance privileges.
- Don’t give up hope. The majority of alcohol interventions end with an individual committing to getting help for their drinking.
- Follow up on the intervention. It’s important to remain persistent after an intervention. If someone says they are going to alcohol treatment, make sure they follow through with it.
- Alcohol is the most commonly used drug in the United States, and it’s a leading cause of preventable illness and death.
- Alcoholism may be a chronic illness, but it’s still treatable.
Conducting An Alcohol Intervention
An alcohol intervention should be held at at a time when an individual is sober, and at a neutral location where alcohol is unavailable. An intervention needs to be held by the people an individual holds dearest such as a best friend, parent, sibling, or a spouse. Places that promote a successful intervention are conference centers, therapy offices, and neutral homes.
During an intervention, each team member should be honest and open about their experience with the individual’s drinking. Throughout the intervention, the team should try to remain calm, supportive, and loving. A person struggling with alcohol addiction is sick, and they may need treatment to get better.
When To Talk To Someone About Their Drinking
Many people are unwilling to listen to their loved ones while under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol reduces a person’s ability to think clearly and react calmly. Many families find that planning an intervention after a day of alcohol-free activities helps. Conducting an intervention while the individual is sober may ensure that each voice of reason will make an impact.
Who To Invite To An Alcohol Intervention
Interventions should be hosted by a professional interventionist and a team of people closest to the person struggling with alcohol. An intervention team is made up of people an individual respects and loves. It’s important to be selective about who to invite to an alcohol intervention.
Some family members or friends may unconsciously have an ulterior motive or have a bad relationship with the individual. Try to avoid any scenarios (or people) that may worsen the likelihood that the intervention will be well-received. Not all family members will need to be part of the intervention team.
What To Say At An Alcohol Intervention
Over the course of an alcohol intervention, each team member individually expresses their concerns. Team members describe, in detail, how an individual’s drinking has hurt them. Arguments and nitpicking may be more likely to occur by using an open meeting format, so it’s best to use the structure of a scripted/written intervention.
During a scripted intervention, each team member writes down what they are going to say, keeping their focus on alcohol as the problem, and not necessarily the individual. It’s easy to want to place blame, or harbor resentments, but the point of an alcohol intervention is not to get even—it’s to offer help.
When scripting an intervention, phrase statements with alcohol as the problem, and use statements like:
- “Alcohol is hurting you and the family.”
- “When you’re drinking, you really hurt me.”
- “You’re so much kinder when you aren’t drinking alcohol.”
- “Because of your alcohol abuse, I had to take out a second mortgage.”
- “If you can’t stop drinking alcohol, I can’t let you live here.”
- “Please get help with your alcohol problem.”
- “I’m afraid that alcohol is going to kill you.”
During an intervention, each person is given a chance to speak, and should refrain from speaking out of turn, interrupting others, or saying things out of script. Practicing by doing a mock intervention, and reading each person’s script as a group, may help. Practice interventions help to ensure that nobody says anything to jeopardize helping their loved one.
After each team member is given a chance to share, and the intervention is coming to a close, the individual is given a list of alcohol treatment programs to choose from. If the individual agrees that they have a drinking problem, and chooses a treatment option, then the alcohol intervention has been successful.
What To Do If An Alcohol Intervention Fails
If an individual is unwilling to get help for alcohol abuse, each team member may present him or her with an ultimatum. This ultimatum is an action they intend to take as a response to his or her drinking. Team members should not threaten a consequence unless fully prepared to follow through with it.
The most important thing to do, if an intervention should fail, is to remain positive, caring, and supportive. Showing a person that they’re loved helps them realize that they don’t have to put up a wall or face alcohol addiction alone.
For More Information Related to “Planning An Alcohol Intervention” Be Sure To Check Out These Additional Resources From AlcoholTreatment.net:
- Is There A Cure For Alcoholism?
- Early Signs of Alcoholism
- What Causes Alcoholism: Disease Or Choice?
- How to Convince Someone They are an Alcoholic
- The Different Stages Of Alcoholism
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence—Intervention Tips and Guidelines