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Alcohol Abuse Intervention

Addressing a loved one’s alcohol abuse can be daunting. Hiring a professional interventionist can make the steps of an alcohol intervention more manageable and set everyone up for success. Your support and a carefully planned intervention can be the starting point for long-term recovery.

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When Is It Time to Intervene?

Knowing when to intervene can be difficult, especially considering how normalized drinking alcohol is in our society. For some people, it can be difficult to know when alcohol use has gone from a casual pastime to an actual addiction.

Signs an alcohol intervention may be necessary include:

  • Inability to cut down on alcohol use; wanting to stop drinking but can’t
  • Drinking more than originally intended
  • Excessive drinking (either in amount or over a long period)
  • Strong cravings for alcohol or feeling drunk
  • Withdrawal from social functions and things once enjoyed
  • Continuing to drink despite the negative effects on life and well-being
  • Drinking when it is physically dangerous
  • Experiencing health problems as a result of drinking
  • Excess time spent acquiring alcohol, drinking alcohol, or recovering from drinking
  • Developing a tolerance to alcohol and needing more to feel its effects
  • Alcohol withdrawal symptoms occur when alcohol use stops
  • Combining alcohol with other drug abuse

How to Stage an Alcohol Abuse Intervention

Convincing a loved one with an alcohol issue to get help can feel impossible, especially if you’re conducting the intervention on your own. Unfortunately, there are many dangers associated with alcohol addiction and quitting.

Waiting for your loved one to hit “rock bottom” or come to their senses about their alcohol consumption only increases the potential for more harm.

By staging an alcohol abuse intervention with a trained addiction specialist or interventionist, you can avoid common mistakes and provide a solid path to recovery for the addict.

Step 1. Seek Guidance From a Professional Interventionist

Interventions can become highly emotional events that quickly go off-topic and possibly end in worsened relationships rather than stronger ones.

Professional interventionists are healthcare professionals who specifically have training and experience in alcohol interventions, which can mean the difference between success and failure.

An interventionist will guide you and other friends or family members through every step of the process and plan for every outcome.

Step 2. Gather Loved Ones for an Intervention Team

The friends and family you assemble for an alcohol intervention can affect the outcome of the intervention itself. Choosing intervention team members that stay on topic will help ensure things don’t get too heated and the focus remains on getting the addict into alcohol treatment.

Your interventionist will walk everyone through the intervention process and clarify what roles each loved one will play.

Step 3. Make an Alcohol Intervention Plan

An alcohol intervention plan includes the date, time, place, and addiction treatment options that will be presented during the intervention, as well as who will be in attendance.

Successful interventions are often planned from start to finish, making the path to recovery clear to the addict. By sticking to the script and following your alcohol intervention plan closely, you’re more likely to get your loved one to agree to a treatment plan.

Step 4. Rehearse the Alcohol Intervention

Rehearsing the alcohol intervention can ensure everyone is on the same page about what will happen and allay nervousness about any potential conflict.

Your professional interventionist will guide the group through each step and provide tips on handling several potential emotional reactions.

Step 5. Be Prepared With Resources

For most planned interventions, the end goal is treatment. In the case of alcohol use disorder, treatment may also include medical detox to avoid potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

Choosing the treatment center ahead of time will ensure a smooth transition from the intervention to the treatment facility. In addition, you can also prepare for after-care services like support groups and therapy to reinforce long-term recovery.

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Post-Intervention: What Happens After Alcohol Interventions?

After a successful intervention, your loved one should enter the offered treatment program.

Treatment can look different for each person and depend on factors like age, background, co-occurring mental illness, and potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

Common types of treatments for alcohol use disorder include medical detoxification, medicine-assisted treatment, inpatient or outpatient treatment, and therapy.

Alcohol Abuse Treatment Options

Inpatient treatment includes a residential stay where the patient will undergo medical detox from alcohol, one-on-one therapy, group therapy, and skill-building classes to help them get back on track. However, not every person with alcohol problems will need intense treatment.

Less involved options include intensive outpatient programs (IOP) and partial hospitalization programs (PHP), where the patient attends treatment a certain amount of hours per week but returns home at night.

In addition to these formal treatment options, therapy is integral to recovery.

Common therapies offered in treatment programs include:

What If an Alcohol Intervention Doesn’t Work?

If the addict rejects help, that doesn’t mean you’ve failed or that they will never accept help in the future.

The subject of the intervention must be ready to accept the help, and you can’t force this process. Make sure you stand firm on all consequences laid out during the intervention.

Should your alcohol intervention not lead to treatment, follow up and regroup with your professional interventionist or addiction professional. The interventionist’s experience and training will help you determine your next steps.

What Are the Different Types of Interventions

Most addiction interventions fall under two types: formal/long interventions and brief interventions.

Long interventions are the type you imagine, planned out with friends and family with impact statements and a chance for reconciliation.

Brief interventions are just that: brief and typically one-on-one.

Here are the main types of interventions you’ll commonly find: 

  • Simple/Brief Intervention: Simple, one-on-one interventions can be carried out alone or with the aid of a professional interventionist.
  • Formal Intervention: Planned meetings with all concerned loved ones in a calm setting, each playing a role focused on confronting the loved one’s addiction.
  • Family System Intervention: An intervention where the whole family participates in the intervention and treatment, focusing on the entire family rather than just the addicted individual.
  • Crisis Intervention: A specific type of intervention that occurs in response to sudden self-destructive behavior or a mental health crisis, providing short-term relief and safety for that person.
  • Johnson Model: A type of intervention model that focuses on seven distinct elements, which include:
    1. Intervention Team
    2. Planning
    3. Care-Focused
    4. Notes and Proof
    5. Focus on Addiction Only
    6. Therapy as the Principal Intention
    7. Options for Treatment
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Benefits of Hiring an Alcohol Intervention Specialist

Dealing with a loved one’s substance abuse is never easy, especially if the alcohol abuse has occurred for a long time.

Hiring an alcohol intervention specialist can take some pressure off you and give you peace of mind while avoiding common pitfalls.

The benefits of working with a professional alcohol interventionist include:

  • Guiding you through finding and arranging treatment options
  • Keeping the intervention on track, productive, and successful
  • Ending conflicts before they heat up
  • Getting help for the whole family, not just the addict
  • Stopping enabling behavior from all parties involved
  • Helping you stay firm on consequences and boundaries

Find an Alcohol Interventionist

If a friend or family member is addicted to alcohol, finding a trained alcohol interventionist is the first step to getting them the help they need. You can start by seeking a referral from a healthcare provider, addiction counselor, social worker, or treatment center.

To find an addiction counselor or treatment center, use the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) online treatment locator or call 1-877-726-4727. You can also locate an interventionist through the Association of Intervention Specialists.

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Alcohol Abuse Intervention FAQs

Do alcohol interventions work?

When handled properly, alcohol interventions can be successful. You can increase the likelihood of success by hiring a trained alcohol interventionist or addiction counselor to aid you in the process.

Make sure to manage your expectations for the intervention, as its success will also depend on whether or not the addict is ready to accept the help you’re offering.

Can you have an intervention for an alcoholic?

Yes, interventions can work for any substance abuse issue, including alcoholism.

How much does an alcohol intervention cost?

Alcohol interventions can cost anywhere from $2,500 to $10,000, depending on the services offered and the individual’s intervention experience.

Do professional interventionists do alcohol interventions?

Yes, many do. When choosing an interventionist, don’t hesitate to ask about their training and healthcare experience with alcohol abuse.

Kent S. Hoffman, D.O. is a founder of Addiction HelpReviewed by:Kent S. Hoffman, D.O.

Chief Medical Officer & Co-Founder

  • Fact-Checked
  • Editor

Kent S. Hoffman, D.O. has been an expert in addiction medicine for more than 15 years. In addition to managing a successful family medical practice, Dr. Hoffman is board certified in addiction medicine by the American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction Medicine (AOAAM). Dr. Hoffman has successfully treated hundreds of patients battling addiction. Dr. Hoffman is the Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer of and ensures the website’s medical content and messaging quality.

Jessica Miller is the Content Manager of Addiction HelpWritten by:

Editorial Director

Jessica Miller is the Editorial Director of Addiction Help. Jessica graduated from the University of South Florida (USF) with an English degree and combines her writing expertise and passion for helping others to deliver reliable information to those impacted by addiction. Informed by her personal journey to recovery and support of loved ones in sobriety, Jessica's empathetic and authentic approach resonates deeply with the Addiction Help community.

  1. American Psychological Association. (n.d.-a). Johnson Intervention. American Psychological Association.
  2. American Psychological Association. (n.d.-b). Understanding Alcohol Use Disorders and their Treatment. American Psychological Association.
  3. Early Intervention, Treatment, And Management Of Substance Use … National Library of Medicine. (2016).
  4. Magill, M., & Ray, L. A. (2009, July). Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment With Adult Alcohol And Illicit Drug Users: A Meta-Analysis Of Randomized Controlled Trials. Journal Of Studies On Alcohol And Drugs.
  5. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2022, May 18). Alcohol Use Disorder. Mayo Clinic.
  6. WebMD. (2022, August). How To Hold An Intervention About Someone’s Drinking. WebMD.
  7. What Is An Intervention? Learn About Intervention. AIS. (2023, October 20).

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