Battling addiction and ready for treatment?
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 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.
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 or individuals with training and experience in alcohol interventions 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.
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 and on script will help ensure things don’t get too heated and the focus remains on getting the addict into treatment.
Your interventionist will walk everyone through the intervention process and clarify what roles each loved one will play.
3. Make an Alcohol Intervention Plan
An alcohol intervention plan includes the date, time, place, addiction treatment options that will be offered during the intervention, and 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 into treatment.
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 any number of emotional reactions.
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.
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
- 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 or harm
- Drinking when it is physically dangerous
- 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
Post-Intervention: What Happens Afterward?
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 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.
In addition to these formal treatment options, therapy is integral to recovery.
Common therapies offered in treatment programs include:
- Group Therapy
- Family Therapy
- Couples Therapy
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
- Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT)
- Motivational Interviewing
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.
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 that 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:
- Intervention Team
- Notes and Proof
- Focus on Addiction Only
- Therapy as the Principal Intention
- Options for Treatment
Benefits of Hiring an Alcohol Intervention Specialist
Dealing with a loved one’s substance abuse is never easy, especially if the alcohol issues have occurred for a long time.
Hiring an alcohol intervention specialist can relieve pressure 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 alcohol treatment center.
To find an addiction counselor or treatment center, use SAMHSA’s online treatment locator or call (800) 662-4357. You can also locate an interventionist through the Association of Intervention Specialists.
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.