Intervention for Alcoholism
Getting a friend or a family member to admit to alcohol addiction, or an addiction problem can be tough; both for the person suffering and for the person trying to help their loved one.
When someone’s addicted to alcohol, it’s often hard for them to see and understand that they need help in the first place. Their lives often become so chaotic that they are unable to see the harm their addiction has been causing to their own life, as well as the lives of the people around them.
This is partly due to the effect alcohol has on the frontal lobe part of the brain. This makes them incapable of making good decisions or thinking clearly.
Therefore, it’s usually easier for people on the outside of the addiction to see that there’s a problem than it is for the person actually suffering.
If you’ve struggled to get your loved one to admit there’s a problem, you may have been met with a brick wall. This isn’t because your loved one or friend is selfish or stubborn. It’s simply because they are struggling to see things clearly right now.
At this stage, you might start to consider an intervention.
What is an Intervention?
Intervention doesn’t need to be a big dramatic event. An intervention simply allows loved ones who care the opportunity to voice their concerns before their loved one’s situation becomes any worse.
An intervention can provide:
- The chance for friends and family to present the individual suffering with examples of how destructive their addiction has been on the individual and people around them.
- The opportunity for medical or healthcare professionals and loved ones to explain any possible treatment that they believe may work at this stage.
- Insight into the future consequences of their continued actions if they decide not to seek any help.
- A sense of control over the current situation.
When Is an Alcohol Intervention Necessary?
An alcohol intervention is necessary when you no longer feel that your efforts are being taken seriously, listened to or actioned.
If you feel like you’re losing control over the situation and are struggling to know what to do next, a planned, group intervention might be the next step.
Most planned interventions from loved ones are most successful when they’re planned, fully educated and trained for the situation at hand. You may want to prepare and practice what you’re going to say beforehand.
What is the goal of an intervention?
Each intervention has its own goal. Some intentions might aim for total abstinence, and some might aim for the individual to simply admit they have an issue and begin to take the first steps to recovery.
It’s important that each goal is realistic for the individual. The goal and expectations put on the individual after the intervention must not be too unrealistic or optimistic.
Each individual’s motivation will work in a different way, so it’s important that you aim for the most realistic outcome whilst motivating the individual and staying positive.
What to Know Before Staging an Intervention
It’s important that before staying an intervention you arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible about the addiction itself and the process of recovery.
Successful interventions can’t be arranged overnight, so it’s important that you plan what you want to say carefully.
It’s useful to plan and think about who you want there at the intervention carefully, as well as thinking about the venue.
It’s a good idea to choose a calming venue for the intervention and not somewhere that may cause further stress or anxiety. For example, try and choose somewhere that’s private and away from the public.
It’s also a good idea beforehand to arrange a short rehearsal meeting with those attending. This will ensure that what you’re all saying is coherent and consistent; this way you’ll come across as a strong unit.
How to Stage an Intervention
Below, we outline the seven stages of a professional intervention:
Step 1 – Seek Professional Advice
Before you do anything else, it’s important that you contact a qualified specialist to help you understand how addiction works, what needs to be done and how to do it.
Whether you speak to a specialist over the phone, over a zoom call or face-to-face, you should be seeking any advice you can get before approaching your loved one for intervention.
Even if they are unable to attend the actual intervention with you, they will be able to advise and equip you with the skills and knowledge to help your loved one.
Without this guidance, it may be difficult for you to hold your own during the intervention.
Step 2 – Gather Your Loved Ones Together
Once you’ve spoken to a professional and got the necessary advice, the next step is to gather your friends and family.
However, it’s important to choose who you want to present at the intervention wisely. You should aim to have a small group of people who the individual suffering trusts, cares about and looks up to.
This could include parents, spouses, siblings, friends or work colleagues. In some situations, children of the person suffering can also decide to be present.
However, it is not recommended that younger children attend the intervention as it might be a difficult or unpleasant experience for them.
Step 3 – Make a Plan of Action
Interventions can be extremely emotional, which is why it’s important to work with your loved ones, and even a professional if possible, to create and prepare a plan.
Making a plan means that you plan out what you want to say, and how you want to say it. This will ensure that everyone is on the same page going into the intervention, and that no one contradicts each other in front of the individual as this will likely only confuse things for them.
Step 4 – Gather the Necessary Information about the Situation
The next step is comparing notes and gathering the necessary information about the individual and their addiction.
It’s useful to share stories and insights about the individual with each other in an attempt to understand how their mind might be currently working.
Step 5 – Create Clear and Specific Boundaries
Lastly, it’s important that you decide on and set clear boundaries for the addict if they refuse to help. Refusing to help themselves should have a consequence, and these consequences should be extremely specific and pre-planned.
It’s a good idea to agree on a set of consequences as a group so that the consequences for the addict are clear and evident.
Step 6 – Practice What You Want to Say
Try and practice what you want to say so that it’s clear in your head. It might be a good idea to rehearse what you want to say and talk it through with someone else to get their opinion.
It’s also important to allow some time to think about not only what you want to say, but how you’re going to say it.
Think about your tone and body language, how can the way you hold yourself and approach the conversation make the individual suffering from the addiction feel safe and at ease?
Step 7 – Follow Through
This is actually one of the hardest parts of the intervention. Following through with intervention can feel nerve-racking, and it’s completely normal to feel apprehensive and hesitant before an intervention.
If you’re feeling nervous before an intervention, it’s important to remind yourself of the desired goal and outcome, and the good it could do in the long run.
If you’re feeling this way, it’s a good idea to share your nervousness and apprehension with the rest of the group attending the intervention, as they probably feel the same.
Interventions can be a great way to share how you’re feeling with your loved one, and if carried out and executed correctly, can be life-changing for some addicts and their loved ones.