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How to Hold a Successful Alcohol Intervention for a Loved One

a person looks sad behind a bottle and glass of liquor

Alcohol is a normal fixture in celebration, relaxation, grief, and even culture. This normality makes it difficult to regulate. However, without regulation, alcohol use can turn into abuse, derailing and even ending lives.

Three million people die each year due to alcoholism or alcohol use disorder (AUD) and alcohol abuse. This doesn’t even account for the millions of other lives damaged, from families, friends, and even victims of violence due to alcohol use.

Alcohol intervention as a direct approach to AUD is a critical prevention tool. It allows loved ones to step in when a person fails to make safe decisions for themselves. To hold a successful intervention, here’s everything you need to know.

What Is an Alcohol Intervention?

An alcohol addiction intervention is a structured process. It aims to convince a person struggling with alcohol addiction to accept treatment. An intervention confronts the person with the following:

  • Specific examples of the negative effects on themselves and others
  • A detailed account of their destructive behavior due to alcohol use
  • A prearranged treatment plan with clear steps and attainable goals
  • Consequences if they refuse to accept treatment

An intervention involves family and friends with the aid of a medical professional. It can also include employers, coworkers, pastors, parole officers, or social workers.

Why Is an Intervention Necessary for Alcohol Addiction?

The first step to getting help is accepting that help is necessary. To an outside observer, the negative effects of alcohol on someone’s life might seem obvious. However, the battle looks very different internally.

People suffering from addiction might convince themselves that their behavior is normal or might not even reflect on their behavior altogether. Alcohol intervention relies on a combination of emotional bonds and factual evidence. It provides a necessary external perspective from the safety of familiar people.

What Are the Steps Involved in Conducting an Alcohol Intervention?

As mentioned, an intervention is a structured attempt. That structure involves the following stages:

1. Planning

One of the most damaging mistakes you can make is attempting an intervention on the spot. A careful planning stage makes the actual intervention and treatment possible.

During your planning sessions, make sure to achieve the following:

  • Form the team (including friends, family, employer, mental health professional, etc.)
  • Gather information (proof of the effects of their substance abuse)
  • Outline a concrete plan of action
  • Pre-empt excuses and find solutions for them (e.g., insurance plans to cover finances)
  • Provide consequences they can’t ignore (e.g., losing their job)
  • Develop a script to prevent getting sidetracked
  • Set boundaries for each member
  • Select the date and location for the intervention

You can accomplish this agenda through multiple planning sessions.

2. Rehearsals

Practice reading the scripts and going through your planned sequence. This ensures that everyone is comfortable with what they’re going to say or do. Some might think it’s redundant, but it’s a great test of the team’s commitment.

Make sure to prep any emotional members for the possibility of their loved one lashing out.

3. Actual Intervention

Select a time and place where the target can sit through the intervention uninterrupted. Invite them to the place without revealing the reason. Take care of possible excuses they can use to bail out, like work or other responsibilities.

Following the plan, team members take turns expressing their concerns. Next, proceed with the details of your treatment plan. Then, lay down the ultimatum for each member.

Make sure the consequences are heavy enough to encourage action. Also, the members should be able to follow through with those consequences. Let the target decide if they accept the treatment plan on the spot.

Limit the duration of the intervention to 60 to 90 minutes. Dragging out the intervention opens possibilities for diversion from the issue. However, with too much time, frustration grows, and patience wears down.

4. Follow Up

Your intervention shouldn’t end with the person’s acceptance of their alcohol addiction. Make sure everyone follows through with their part in the action plan. Constantly encourage adherence to the treatment plan and look out for relapses.

Additional Tips to Keep In Mind

After you’ve gotten the intervention structure down, you still have a few specifics to consider. Here are extra tips to remember when planning and conducting your intervention:

Catch Them Sober

When dealing with an alcoholic, this is far easier said than done. The target’s understanding of their problem and acceptance of treatment is vital. Intoxication gets in the way of this, so be strategic with your timing.

It’s best to schedule it in the morning or immediately after a direct consequence of their alcohol use. This could be an arrest or hospitalization. These further prove the severity of their problem.

Seek Professional Aid

This could be a qualified interventionist, mental health professional, social worker, doctor, or counselor. To narrow down your search, look up these organizations of certified intervention professionals:

  • The Association of Intervention Specialists (AIS)
  • The Network of Independent Interventionists
  • Family First Interventions

Expert help is especially important If your loved one suffers from any mental health illness before the AUD or because of it. A professional will know how to safely and effectively handle the illness in conjunction with the AUD. Since you’re also aiming to convince, having a credible authority to appeal to is helpful.

Provide Treatment Options

There are over 14,500 specialized drug treatment facilities in the United States. With professional help, you can work out how to make the treatment as easy as possible for your loved one. 

Developing a concrete plan of action involves a lot of planning. This includes finding an alcohol rehabilitation facility, assigning who will take them there, and even taking care of their responsibilities (children, pets, or work) while they get treatment.

Help Your Loved One Get the Help They Need

It’s painful to watch a loved one destroy their life and hurt others while their denial stops them from seeking help. Fortunately, you don’t have to watch simply. Follow this guide for a successful alcohol intervention!

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