Alcoholism Intervention

Alcohol addiction has plagued society since prehistoric times. People with a dependence on alcohol damage themselves and those around them – often without knowing it – and, through their impact on health services, crime (it’s been reported that crimes related to alcohol costs the UK between £8bn and £13bn each year) and antisocial behavior, place significant strain on public finances. According to studies, a single case of alcoholism will affect five people who aren’t addicted to alcohol.

Fighting the addiction itself is difficult enough, but the first challenge is getting addicts to recognise their problem and accept help. Alcoholics often ignore their situation and stay in denial. In many cases, they are unwilling to seek or accept outside assistance.

One good way to reason with an alcoholic is via a well-prepared intervention. By this means, the alcoholic can connect the problems in their life with the alcohol abuse in question.

For the intervention process to work, many things have to be considered. It’s wise to construct the whole plan around the circumstances surrounding the alcoholic: their level of alcohol addiction, their response to advice and reprehension, as well as their relationship with family and friends, amongst other personal situations. If an intervention goes wrong, things could escalate and the alcoholic could go into a downward spiral from which it could be difficult to return.

In some cases, the addict might already understand and be prepared to face the effects of their behaviour on their own life, as well as those around them. They may be psychologically and emotionally willing to kick their habit, but for certain reasons (such as withdrawal) tend to find themselves returning to alcohol. In this case, it’s important to tackle the problem from an angle of empathy and understanding. In other cases, cutting through any prevarication and getting straight to the point will be the best way to save an alcoholic from themselves.

If you have a loved one struggling with alcoholism, you have to act fast before addiction ruins – or even claims – their life. Professional help is available if you aren’t sure how to undertake the intervention process.

Alcoholism Intervention: What is it?

Alcoholism intervention is a process that involves the coming together of an alcoholic’s loved ones to confront them about their behavior, in an effort to urge them to break their habit. The process of intervention is vital and often represents the starting point of an alcoholic’s road to recovery.

The primary goal of an intervention is to make the alcoholic come to terms with their situation and help them realise how their actions are taking a toll on those around them. It also presents a structured opportunity to facilitate a change in their behaviour, as well as break the addiction cycle.

The process of intervention – from planning to execution – can be difficult. Intervention needs to be well planned, well-timed, and sensitively carried out if the desired result is to be achieved.

Alcohol’s status as a legal, frequently consumed substance can make it difficult to diagnose a genuine alcohol problem in the first place. When you’re not sure (but suspect) that a loved one is dealing with problems concerning alcohol, it’s important to consult a professional interventionist or psychologist with regards the next step to take.

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How to Stage an Intervention: the Process

The process involved in preparing and carrying out a typical intervention can be lengthy and difficult. It’s important that you take your time to carefully plan the intervention, even though the actual event may only take a short while – if the intervention goes wrong, it might compound existing problems and further alienate the alcoholic.

The process to follow for setting up an

intervention should involve the following:

Understanding the Situation of the Addict: If you suspect you’re dealing with an addiction to alcohol, you have to be sure that your suspicions are correct before embarking on an intervention. To find out for sure, it will be helpful to consult a licensed professional on this issue. These professionals understand the dynamics of alcoholism and can help you identify the source of your loved one’s issues, and help plan the intervention.

Picking the Time and Venue for the Intervention: The ideal time for staging an intervention is during one of the alcoholic’s lucid and sober moments. Carrying out an intervention when the subject is drunk is almost certain to fail, and things may turn unpleasant or even violent. The venue should be on familiar territory to keep them comfortable.

Picking the Intervention Team: When carrying out an intervention, it’s important that the team comprises people from the alcoholic’s close-knit circle: people they love and respect, and who hold substantial influence over them.

Scripting the Intervention: What you say during an intervention holds the power to either drive home your reservations or potentially disrupt the whole arrangement. It’s understandable that you’re hurt, disappointed, and angry at your loved one for their many wrongdoings. It may prove difficult to rein in your words. However, it’s important to restrain yourself and speak to your loved one in a tone and manner that will get through to them. As far as possible without losing the ability to sound natural and responsive, script what will be said during the intervention and ensure the whole team understands their individual roles and the message they’re each to convey. Without sticking to the script, things could go awry. Ensure you conclude with an ultimatum of sorts designed to push the alcoholic into taking their own steps towards sobriety whilst making clear that things need to change. If you have no experience staging an intervention, look for guidance from people who have. Better still, consult a professional.

Executing the Intervention: After a careful process of planning and coordinating the intervention, you then have to execute it. It’s essential you stick to the plan right to the very end and ensure you deliver it properly and precisely. See to it that the team is at the venue on time, and that everyone sticks to the script as it has been laid out. You’ll preferably want the intervention to begin immediately when the alcoholic walks in. As such, everyone else should be in position and ready.

Follow-Up and Transition to Treatment after Intervention: A key aim of an intervention should be to set up help with a professional or facility in the hope that the intervention will lead to treatment. After the intervention – especially when a mandate has been set for the alcoholic – they then have a decision to make. Sometimes, they may feel that you’re bluffing and decide to stick to their behavior regardless of what has been said. When this happens, enforce your ultimatum and go ahead with executing the consequences you’ve laid out during the intervention.

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Effectiveness of Intervention

An intervention may lead to an important epiphany or a negative response, depending on the approach and coordination of those intervening.

Interventions have the potential to provoke a sense of resentment or betrayal on the part of the alcoholic if things take a wrong turn. No one would enjoy the idea of being an ambush victim when lured into an intervention. Thus, it is vital to tackle the surprise element at the entry stage of the intervention.

An effective or ineffective intervention will also depend upon how the interveners comport themselves. Hurtful, hateful and heated words could be hurled at you by the alcoholic in a display of anger when they realise the situation at hand. However, maintaining a calm and controlled temperament may preserve the continuity of the event. If you react in a vexing manner to any insults, the whole intervention may well be jeopardised.

You and the team should treat issues delicately, without foregoing the option of being firm. While in some cases sounding disciplinarian may backfire, in others it will be the most effective course of action.

Overall, ensure things are thoughtfully planned out and clinically executed. If you’re unsure about the best route to take, please consult a specialist for guidance. The intervention process shouldn’t be taken lightly, as you may not have many opportunities. You could also push your loved one further into addiction if things fall apart.

Seven Intervention Methods for Alcohol Addiction

The kind of approach employed in an intervention will vary according to the situation of the alcoholic and the state of their relationship with loved ones. Direct methods of intervention are the most common, in which loved ones, friends and family members confront an alcoholic with the assistance of a specialist. Interventions are considered ‘formal’ when an expert is involved and are termed ‘informal’ when there is no expert presence.

The ‘Love First’ Approach: The Love First approach employs a compassionate and supportive strategy in encouraging the alcoholic to seek treatment and fight their addiction. This method of intervention is normally carried out on favourable ground, like the family home.

When it comes to the Love First approach, the onus is always on those intervening to provide unwavering support and maintain calmness, even when the alcoholic goes into a spiral or loses control.

The trademark strategy of this method of intervention involves each participant writing a letter which details how they feel, whilst incorporating bonding memories. The letters will be read out aloud during the intervention. It will also be made clear that consequences will be meted out to the alcoholic should they choose not to seek help.

Confrontational Model: The confrontational model is a typically direct intervention approach. It involves a firm and aggressive encounter, where the alcoholic is directly challenged about their addictive habits and given an ultimatum to break their addiction cycle.

The background preparations involve a series of meetings between family members and a professional interventionist, before the main day. If the addict chooses to get treatment, they will join a programme already selected by the family. Should they adamantly refuse help, members of the family will choose to enforce consequences laid out during the intervention, such as cutting off contact with the alcoholic.

Johnson Model : The Johnson model of intervention is a forceful strategy that coaxes an alcoholic to face their addiction issues. It is founded on the premise that alcoholics will continue to dwell in denial, until they hit rock bottom. The forceful nature of the approach serves as a catalyst for seeking recovery when the alcoholic is unwilling.

Though aggressive in a way, this approach does not employ malicious measures, but balances vehement pressure with adequate care and love. This method involves the alcoholic’s primary caregiver being prepped by an expert interventionist on how to approach their loved one.

Tough Love: The tough love method is a more drastic approach in persuading addicts to face their problems. It mounts tremendous pressure on the alcoholic, with severe consequences such as cutting them off financially, relinquishing privileges, or even evicting them from homes.

As conventional as this method sounds, it is very delicate and should be handled by a specialist. The tough love approach can be a gamble: you might push your loved one further away by applying these drastic measures. Please explore other options before embarking on this method of intervention.

Crisis Intervention: This is an intervention method mostly applied in emergency situations. Family members take this approach when time becomes an unaffordable luxury. At this stage, the addict is probably on the verge of hurting themselves (or others) and may still be unwilling to seek help. People involved at this juncture are alcoholics with an advanced level of addiction and those suffering from a mental disorder alongside their alcohol addiction.

Professional help is normally utilised to carry out this kind of intervention. The professional might choose to have the alcoholic assessed for involuntary treatment if they remain unwilling to commit. At this stage, the intervention becomes forcible.

Despite the forcible nature of this intervention, family members and loved ones will still stick around to provide help for the struggling addict. It’s imperative to seek professional help if you have a loved one who is on the brink of self-harm. This is because crisis interventions are impromptu and you may not have adequate time to get organised at such short notice.

Systematic Family Intervention: Family members hold a special place in the hearts of their struggling loved ones – more than they may comprehend. You may be discouraged, perhaps because your loved one hasn’t responded positively to your previous methods of reaching out. With the right approach, however, they may listen to reason.

An alcoholic might finally accept that their behaviour has badly affected their loved ones. Through professional help with a systematic family approach, their eyes will be finally opened to the impact of their addictive behaviours.

This kind of intervention brings to light what the family is going through, without pouring blame or shame on the alcoholic. A professional interventionist will facilitate a more peaceful engagement between the alcoholic and their family, fostering openness and candour without eliciting defensive behaviours.

Workplace Interventions: As the name implies, this method of intervention is carried out in the workplace. Issues with alcohol addiction can have an impact on the alcoholic’s professional life and even extend to the organisation for which they work.

Interventions in the workplace can be carried out informally by colleagues, but the best way to go about it is via professional help. The ultimate consequence laid out during this kind of intervention (especially when the employer is ‘on notice’) is termination of employment.

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Intervention: Tips and Guidelines

Intervention should be carried out in the most appropriate manner in order to ensure it results in the addict agreeing to get treatment. It shouldn’t be solely approached as a disciplinary measure, but one that offers help and a pathway towards an infinitely better life.

A Professional can Help: Consulting a professional in matters of addiction (especially alcoholism) will play a major role in boosting your chances of a successful intervention. The professional will consider the situation surrounding the alcoholic to draw up an ideal strategy and provide guidance on how to implement the plan.

How Successful are Interventions? : With the help of a professional interventionist, the prospect of your loved one committing to treatment will be greater.

What is the Best Route to an Intervention?: Interventions are best handled by specialists. However, if you have a family member with experience in handling interventions, get them involved. Ensure your team of interveners comprises at least some of the people closest to the alcoholic.

Alcohol and Alcoholic Intervention Programmes

It’s difficult to get an addict to commit to treatment, especially when they don’t think they have a problem. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to help them see the damage they’ve caused and the dangers that lie in wait. You can go all out to ensure your loved one doesn’t end up hurting themselves, before they see reason. An intervention programme is the best way to achieve this.

An intervention isn’t a quick fix, but it can be effective. With professional help, the right timing, an ideal team, and proper preparation and planning, you can get your loved one the help they require.

Trained interventionists will prepare you and your family in meetings, during which you’ll learn how to express yourselves in a constructive fashion, rein in your frustrations, and restrain yourself from succumbing to heated arguments. The interventionist will also guide you on choosing a venue and time that will be best suited to the encounter at hand.

If you’re worried about your loved one’s situation regarding alcohol addiction, you can get professional assistance with one simple call. Treatment is available that can help them kick the habit, but the important battle at this stage is getting them to accept they have an issue and commit to recovery.

Possible Difficulties of an Intervention

One of the greatest foes of an intervention is denial on the part of the alcoholic. The subject of the intervention may well understand they’re hooked on alcohol, but may believe they have a handle on their problem. Others don’t even believe they have a problem at all. In these cases, it may be difficult persuading them to get help.

Some addicts understand they are addicted and are psychologically willing to get help. However, the fear of withdrawal (which can be very unpleasant) dissuades them from venturing into recovery. Some have tried, but aren’t able to cope with the symptoms. This issue can cause difficulties during intervention. To kill this fear, let them know they can get through withdrawal with medical help, that they have your full support and you’ll be there throughout. Make them understand that they must get through withdrawal to overcome their addiction.

Co-occurring mental conditions can also jeopardise the intervention and reduce chances of success. People struggling with addiction and mental illness are often not easy to reason with, as they are in a state of psychological impairment and can’t think with clarity. They may choose to seek help today and change their minds tomorrow. As always, it’s important that you seek professional guidance.

Cost of Intervention

The cost of a professional intervention will depend on the situation and the intervention process to be carried out. Cost also varies according to each professional. Your insurance may cover the costs of the intervention, but where it doesn’t, your interventionist will brief you accordingly.

Post Intervention

The end of an intervention should not mark the end of your involvement in getting help for your loved one. The intervention may be successful or it may fail. In any case, you have to brace yourself for what comes later.

If your addicted loved one chooses to seek help, ensure you’re there for them until they pull through. Provide the required mental and emotional support right to the end of their recovery.

If they choose to be resolute and refuse help, you should enforce and implement the consequences you laid out during the intervention. This will show them how serious and committed you are. Many interventions fail because family members prove unwilling to take the measures they outlined.

If they still choose to continue their habit despite this, as hard as it will be you need to focus on protecting others, perhaps by cutting off contact with the alcoholic. At some point, hopefully, they will come to their senses and understand that you were correct all along. Should they return for help, support their decision and duly assist them.

Statistics on Alcohol Addiction Intervention

According to research, alcohol abuse poses the biggest health risk amongst people aged 15-49 in the UK. Across all ages, it is the fifth-biggest risk factor. It’s also been reported that 2.5 million British residents consume more than 14 units of alcohol during their heaviest days of drinking.

A study by Research Brands found that of all people who sought help for substance abuse, 52.8% wanted to break free from alcohol addiction. The study also revealed that alcohol is responsible for the most widespread harm, despite the huge range of substances for which individuals seek help.

Experts have found that following the guidance of interventionists will increase the chances of success for the intervention process, as opposed to going at it alone.

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Alcohol addiction is a dangerous disease, but fortunately your loved one can be saved with appropriate help. It is unwise to cut corners and undertake the intervention yourself if you aren’t experienced with such an encounter. An intervention that goes wrong can be counterproductive and drive your loved one further into binge drinking to ease tension.

A solid process of education (in relation to intervention) is required if you’re going to engage in such a sensitive encounter. Each addict is facing a unique situation, which requires an individualised plan and methodology to follow. The psychological process involved in interventions requires a precise form of execution to avoid things getting out of hand.

Please seek help from a professional if you’re planning on helping a loved one face their alcohol problem.


What is an Intervention?

An intervention is a pre-planned structural confrontation with someone who has been exhibiting addictive behaviour, carried out by their loved ones, friends and family. The goal of an intervention is to make the addict understand they have a problem and seek help.

Do They Work?

Interventions have a high success rate, especially when handled by a professional interventionist. It’s considered the best way to get a loved one come to terms with their addiction problem and how it has impacted those around them. Most recovering addicts seek help after an intervention.

What can you Expect during Intervention?

Expect to see signs of irritation and even outrage in the alcoholic, when they initially realise the gravity of the situation. However, if you stick to the script of the intervention, they should calm within a few moments and share their issues, feelings and reservations. After that, there will be an opening for you to let them know about their shortcomings and provide an ultimatum.

Can Intervention Fail?

Yes, interventions can fail. An addict may choose to decline seeking help in the heat of the moment. However, they may later think things through and have a change of heart as a result of the intervention.

Who gets Involved in an Intervention?

It’s important that you consult a professional for guidance on choosing participants of the intervention you’re planning. The interventionist will pick a number of people close to the alcoholic who possess considerable influence over them. These individuals may involve family members, close friends, co-workers, and employers.

What can you Expect After Intervention?

After intervention, the alcoholic could choose to seek treatment or not. In some cases, they might ask for a little time to think. When they refuse to seek help, it’s important that you go on and implement the consequences you have stated in order to encourage them to change their mind.

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