It is painful to watch a loved one’s life be destroyed by alcoholism. Interventions are sometimes necessary to make the alcoholic confront their problem before they hit rock bottom. If you feel that an intervention is the best way to get your loved one to understand that their addiction is a problem, then here are a few things to consider:
Preparation for an Alcohol Intervention
Seeking an intervention professional, such as an alcohol and addiction counselor can help you organize an effective intervention. They will be able to take into account the circumstances surrounding the alcohol abuse, help you find the right approach to help your loved one agree to seek help. The intervention specialist will also help make arrangements with the right kind of treatment and follow-up program, should the individual agree.
It’s best to educate yourself on the disease of alcoholism. There are many good books out there and groups, like Al-Anon, that can provide you with information and meetings for the family and friends of the alcoholic. Education can help everyone understand what they will need to know before the intervention.
It is not necessary to stage the intervention with the professional, however, if your loved one has any of the following, it may be a good idea.
- Has a history of serious mental illness
- Has a history of violence
- Has shown suicidal behavior or recently talked about suicide
- May be taking several mood-altering substances
Most interventions done with professionals are successful. Over 90% of the individuals agree to get help. In a few cases, the person will not agree, but will most likely come back later and ask for help. The intervention will still have been successful, in that the family and friends of the alcoholic have sought help. The sooner you seek help, the sooner the alcoholic will seek help as well.
Alcohol Intervention for Your Loved One
The intervention should take place in neutral territory. The loved one should not feel threatened in their own home. They should be invited to it as any other gathering. Please remember to schedule it when you know the individual will be most receptive. Binge drinkers should be approached, at the most, a month after their last binge. Daily drinkers usually need that first drink of the day, it is best to wait a bit after they have finished it before approaching them. Timing and giving the individual specific examples of how their drinking is affecting them and their family are key getting them to agree to treatment. The intervention should be no longer than 60-90 minutes. After that, tempers may rise and compassion declines.
How Does An Intervention Work?
Interventions work best when the people that are the most impacted by the alcoholism are present. It’s important to get the right people involved to heighten the success of the intervention. An intervention specialist may help you determine who should be present for this and also coach everyone concerned in how to state their concerns. Most specialists agree that the alcoholic should not be blamed or threatened, but that they be made aware of how their disease is effecting their family and friends. The interventionist can also cope with outbursts or defensive rationalization from the individual, such as pointing out that others in the group drink. They can keep things calm should the alcoholic become hostile or combative.
When it comes time to say how each of the participants feels about how the alcoholism has affected them, it’s better to write things down in a letter and read them at the intervention, so that the thoughts can be clearly stated. These letters should be concise, well-rehearsed and highlight the positive.
Interventions should stress love and concern while avoidingt negativity and confrontation. The idea is to hold a mirror up to the alcoholic and show them what others see. The power of an intervention comes from having the participants express concern and compassion for the alcoholic’s welfare. It is important to remember that this is a disease, not a choice.
Post Alcohol Intervention Steps
If the loved one has agreed to get help, it is necessary to get them in to the treatment that you and the professional have decided on as soon as possible. It is important that you, the family and friends provide love and support to the alcoholic if they agreed to go into treatment, whichever one it may be. Many times, the individual will be grateful that they were given a second chance.
If the loved one declines treatment, do not give up. It may take more than one intervention. Many times the alcoholic will feel that there is nothing wrong with them, and may decide to walk away. The intervention participants need to work as a team and make the loved one understand how serious they are. The loved one should understand that there are consequences to declining treatment. These consequences need to be severe enough to make them sit up and take notice, such as taking away their car, or losing visitation rights or asking them to move out until they agree to get help.
Stay Positive, Don’t Quit!
You and the other intervention participants should not feel as if you failed, because the intervention has made the alcoholic aware of how their addiction has affected their family, friends and coworkers. This may result in a more strained relationship with everyone concerned, however, the idea of the addiction and possible recovery has been sown. And that is a small victory. In the meantime, you and the other participants are helping yourselves by going to Al-Anon meetings and learning more about the disease and how you may be enabling the loved one. And this is a victory, too.
Do not wait another day to get your loved one into an intervention and treatment for their drinking problem. Don’t wait for them to recognize their addiction, they can’t see it. You need to take the first step and seek help for your loved one.
Family First Intervention is the United States’ trusted specialist for interventions with family members, and we can help give further advice or counsel on the intervention process.
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