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How to Have an Intervention for an Alcoholic

If you have a loved one with an alcohol addiction, chances are that they are having a hard time acknowledging that they have a problem. After all, alcohol consumption is not only socially acceptable, in some instances it is almost expected. How many times have you seen someone having an alcoholic beverage pressed on them after they asked for a soft drink? How often has the drunkest person present been hailed as “the life of the party”?

It is no wonder that many people with alcohol addictions are unable to see that they need help. To them, their behaviour is not out of the ordinary. The cracks cannot be seen from the inside, but for those on the outside looking in, they are glaringly obvious.

The challenge, of course, is that you cannot help someone who doesn’t want to be helped. So the loved ones of alcohol addicts are in a position of having to watch their friend or family member sink deeper and deeper into a situation that becomes more dangerous as time passes.

Intervention May Be the Answer

If someone is unable to see a problem for themselves, it is often up to their loved ones to show them. But it has to be done in such a way that the person is open to listening. Simply telling someone that they have an alcohol addiction is unlikely to yield results. If anything, it could make the addicted person double down on their efforts to isolate themselves and conceal their alcohol use.

An intervention is a carefully planned gathering in which participants describe clear examples of how the addiction has impacted them and what the consequences will be if it does not stop. The goal is not to attack the addicted person, it is to help them understand how their addiction is hurting them and the people they love.

addicted person

How Does an Intervention Work?

Although interventions can be done by the addicted person’s loved ones without any outside help, using the services of an intervention professional does improve the odds of the person accepting the help that is offered. There are three main reasons for this:

  1. The intervention specialist has in-depth knowledge of alcohol addiction and the resources and treatment programs that are available
  2. The interventionist is trained to handle the conflicts and escalations that can happen in an intervention setting
  3. The presence of a neutral person with no personal stake could encourage the addicted person to sit down and listen, if only for the sake of being polite

There are several intervention models, and the one that is used depends on the addicted person, the friends and family members, and the intervention professional. The same interventionist might use different methods for different families, because everyone’s circumstances are different.

Most models follow similar steps, which are detailed below.

Step 1: Form a Planning Group

The first step is to actually decide to do the intervention. Once this commitment is made, you will need to assemble a small group to help you plan the meeting. It is at this stage that you should engage the services of an intervention specialist.

Step 2: Do Your Research

Before staging an intervention for someone addicted to alcohol, you will need to learn as much as you can about alcohol addiction. It is particularly important to know about the dangers of alcohol withdrawal: quitting alcohol without medical supervision can be extremely dangerous. Your research will need to include available treatment options that include medical detox. It is worthwhile to speak to the facilities on your shortlist and provisionally book a space. This will ensure that the addicted person can immediately start treatment if they accept help.

Step 3: Decide Who Will Take Part in The Intervention

At this point, close friends and family members should be invited to participate in the intervention. Choose your list of invitees carefully: participants should have a genuine connection with the addicted person and want them to succeed in recovery. Avoid the temptation of inviting people who simply want to vent to the addicted person.

Step 4: Decide What Will Happen If The Addicted Person Does Not Accept Help

Consequences are essential. Without them, the addicted person could simply say “no” when asked if they will go for treatment, and the cycle of addiction would continue. Everyone who participates in the meeting has to be willing to come up with something that will happen if the loved one declines treatment. The consequences are highly dependent on the nature of the relationship. A spouse or partner may choose to leave. A friend may decide to break ties. A sibling may file a police report for loss of property or money. Whatever the consequence is, the person has to be willing to follow through on it.

Step 5: Write and Rehearse The Speeches

Each participant should write a speech that includes the following elements:

  1. Specific examples of how the addiction has hurt them. This could include physical or verbal abuse, a relationship breakdown, financial impacts, damage to property, and more.
  2. A request for the addicted person to accept treatment, and information about the help being offered.
  3. What the consequences will be if the addicted person refuses help.

Once all participants have written their speeches, they should get together for a “dress rehearsal”. During this time, you can decide on the sequence of speeches.

Step 6: Have The Intervention Meeting

The addicted person is brought into a gathering with all participants, without knowing ahead of time what the purpose is. Participants then follow the agreed order to deliver the speeches they have prepared. It is very important not to go off-script during this process: emotions may be running high, and if you try to “wing it”, you may become overwhelmed, and your message could get lost.

Step 7: Follow Up

Whatever the outcome of the intervention is, appropriate follow-up will be needed. If the addicted person accepts help, arrangements need to be made to transport them to a treatment facility. If you are using an intervention professional, they may have the ability to do the transport themselves. If the person declines help, participants need to start implementing the consequences they spoke about.

follow up

Getting Help with Intervention Rehab

At Intervention Rehab, we understand the challenges of addiction and the impact on loved ones. If you have a friend or family member who is struggling with alcohol addiction, we can help. Give us a call and let us help you with an intervention, so you can spend some time taking care of yourself. We are connected with a variety of treatment options, and we will get your loved one into a program that will be a good fit for them.

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