Conducting An Intervention For Alcoholism

The ultimate goal when conducting an intervention for alcoholism is to convince your loved one to seek treatment to recover from alcohol abuse.

Conducting an intervention for alcoholism may be done with the help of a professional interventionist or with a group of concerned parties who are willing to participate in voicing their concern and support for their loved one.

Recognizing Signs of Alcohol Abuse

Alcoholism is a serious issue that hurts more than just the person who is engaging in substance abuse. Friends, family members, and even co-workers may be impacted by their loved one’s alcohol abuse and share concern.

While some who struggle with alcohol may be able to hide or disguise their problem,  some have sleep issues, problems with social or work life, and eventually the problem will become noticeable, painful to watch, or too harmful to ignore.

One of the most important factors an alcoholic can have when pursuing sobriety is support. Receiving support from people within their inner circle can be an especially valuable and comforting resource throughout the recovery process, in addition to professional care.

However, someone who is deeply rooted in addiction may need more than just one or two close friends or family members privately voicing their concerns to make the choice to seek help.

Organizing an alcohol intervention is one way in which those concerned can give their struggling loved one the push they need to seek addiction treatment for their problem.

What Does It Mean To Hold An Intervention For Alcoholism?

An intervention for alcoholism is an organized, structured process where friends, family, and other individuals close to a person struggling with alcohol use disorder can voice concerns about the destructive nature of their loved one’s problem and persuade them to seek treatment.

Holding an intervention is often an attempt to utilize the strength that can be found in numbers. Within this structured group setting, loved ones can share their statements of concern, pain, and support in a way that forces the person struggling with alcohol abuse to confront the impact their problem has wrought on those around them.

What Takes Place During An Alcohol Intervention?

The intervention process contains a few different stages:

Before: Planning And Organizing

  • gathering members of your loved one’s inner circle, and a professional intervention specialist (optional)
  • setting the date, time, location
  • gathering relevant information and research on alcohol abuse
  • coming up with personal statements and potential consequences/ultimatums should they refuse to seek treatment

During: The Intervention

  • sharing personal statements
  • offering support and treatment options
  • stating consequences or ultimatums

After: Following Through

  • following up on either imposing the stated consequences or providing the offered support should they agree to seek help

Choosing how you want to stage an intervention can be a difficult process depending on the nature of your loved one’s addiction, available resources, and other factors.

What’s important to understand is that you don’t have to plan this alone. Staging an intervention is a collaborative process built on a foundation of support, love, and understanding.

How To Stage An Intervention For Your Loved One

The following is a step-by-step guide on how to conduct an intervention for alcoholism:

  1. Gather concerned parties: Seek out close friends, family members, or coworkers that you believe may be aware of the person’s alcoholism. Ask if they would be willing to be involved in staging an intervention for your mutual loved one.
  2. Consider enlisting professional help: You may also consider seeking a professional intervention specialist. Having a professional in the room during this process may be particularly helpful if you have held previous interventions with your loved one that were unsuccessful or are worried your loved may have a highly emotional or negative reaction to the confrontation.
  3. Choose a time and location: Once you have gathered your group, schedule a time and pick a location for the intervention to take place. Make sure to account for every person’s schedule and availability, and double-check to ensure everyone is in agreement on the details.
  4. Gather relevant information: Some or all parties may be more or less aware of the details of your loved one’s problem, as well as alcoholism in general. Gather the information you believe is important for understanding your loved one’s alcohol abuse, including information on substance abuse, treatment options, and the recovery process.
    If your loved one has previously tried and been unsuccessful in attempts to stop drinking, you may wish to seek information about different treatment approaches and programs that may be better suited to meet their needs.
  5. Prepare your statements: All concerned parties attending the intervention should have something to say about how their loved one’s alcoholism has impacted them. They may express concern about their loved one’s well-being, as well as more personal accounts of how their loved one’s alcoholism has caused them pain.
    While personal attacks and aggression are not suitable or helpful during this process, it’s important to relay personal impact that captures the pain addiction causes while still ultimately coming from a place of love.
  6. Set boundaries and offer support: It can be difficult for individuals to watch their loved ones continue down a path of addiction while refusing to seek help. Some friends and families may need to set boundaries about what role they are willing to take in their loved one’s life should they refuse to get help for their problem.
    This involves detailing consequences or ultimatums you are willing to impose should your loved one refuse to seek help. Attendees should also share what supportive role they are willing to take throughout the recovery process should their loved one agree to seek help. This may include offering rides to support groups or individual therapy or offers to visit them should they enter a residential rehab facility.
  7. Be ready to manage the outcome: The ideal outcome for staging an intervention is to have your loved one take in what you have shared and agree to seek professional treatment. However, it is important to understand the possibility that the intervention may proceed in unpredictable ways or result in your loved one expressing an unwillingness to accept help.
    This does not mean you necessarily failed in your planning. There may be many reasons your loved one may not be ready at that point in time to willingly seek out help for their problem.
  8. Follow through: Whether your loved one does or does not agree to seek help, it is important to follow through either on what you have offered by means of support or follow through on your stated consequences.
    Following through on your statements sends the message that you take the process seriously, and can support the progress of your loved as they either embark on their path towards sobriety or are forced to reevaluate their priorities.

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Tips For A Successful Intervention For Alcoholism

Personalize The Process

Coordinating a successful intervention for a loved one struggling with alcohol abuse requires the integration of strategies you believe will get through to them. Would they respond better to a gentler approach or do you believe they need a tough-love approach in order to be swayed? Carefully consider what kind of tone and organizational model may be most effective in getting through to your loved one.

Rehearse The Intervention

Rehearsing the intervention process may not only give you a better chance for achieving a successful outcome, but also confirm that everyone is on the same page as far as how the intervention will proceed. This way, the group can become more comfortable with their planned statements and more confident in their ability to say what they know needs to be said.

Think About Body Language

While the statements being shared during the intervention process are important, so too is how you present yourself to your loved one. Crossing your legs, crossing your arms, clenching your fists, or otherwise depicting closed-off body language can put the person being confronted on the defensive.

Instead, try to look at the person you are speaking to, lean in and tilt your shoulders towards them as they speak, and keep your hands unclenched and arms uncrossed.

Prepare For Negative Reactions

Alcohol interventions can be emotional and difficult for all involved. Individuals who struggle with substance abuse may exhibit heightened emotional responses to anything that threatens or forces them to face the dysfunctional relationship they have with their chosen substance.

Thus, someone who is being confronted about their addiction by means of an intervention may react by:

  • lashing out physically or verbally
  • crying or sobbing hysterically
  • screaming or yelling
  • trying to leave the room

If you believe the person you are confronting is at a particularly high risk for reacting with aggression or some other highly emotional response, having a professional intervention specialist in the room may help to keep the intervention on track and mediate the process.

Finding Intervention Support For Alcoholism

Holding an intervention for someone you care about who is struggling with something as painful as substance abuse is never easy. You may already be at a point of exhaustion and feel unsure whether you are going about your intervention approach the right way.

Contacting a professional either through an alcohol hotline or intervention specialist who is trained to help individuals struggling with alcohol addiction may be an option to consider if you need someone to help lessen the burden.

A professional may be able to suggest ideas for the intervention process, providing recommendations for treatment. They may play however big or small a role you need them to depending on what you feel may be most effective in achieving the successful outcome.

Contact us today to learn more about conducting an intervention for alcoholism.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism - A Pocket Guide for Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention

Mayo Clinic - Intervention: Help A Loved One Overcome Addiction

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