Alcohol Intervention: Helping a Loved One Get Treatment – It’s often challenging to convince a loved one struggling with an addiction to seek treatment. Sometimes a direct, personal conversation can prompt the person to start down the path to recovery. But most often, the loved one with the problem doesn’t acknowledge it, and a more focused approach is needed. At this point, you may wish to band together with others and take action by staging a formal intervention.
People who suffer from addiction are frequently in denial about their situation and reluctant to seek treatment. They may not fully recognize the adverse effects their behavior has had on themselves and others around them.
An intervention offers your loved one a structured opportunity to make a change before things get even more severe, and compel him or her to seek and accept help.
What is an Alcohol Intervention?
An intervention is a strategically planned process that is usually conducted by family and friends, in collaboration with a professional such as a licensed alcohol and drug counselor or professional interventionist. It often involves others, just as friends and family members, who care deeply about the person suffering from addiction.
During the intervention, people assemble to confront the loved one about the consequences of their addiction and urge him or her to consider seeking and accepting treatment.
The intervention should:
- Provide specific examples of harmful behaviors and their effects on the person with the addiction as well as family and friends.
- Offer a prearranged treatment plan defined with clear steps, objectives, and guidelines.
- Spell out precisely what each person will do if the addicted individual refuses to accept treatment.
How Does a Typical Alcohol Intervention Work?
An alcohol intervention usually includes the following steps:
Making a Plan and Consulting a Professional
A family member or friend suggests staging an intervention and begins to gather a planning team. At this point, it’s best to consult a qualified professional substance abuse counselor, therapist or addiction interventionist to help organize an effective intervention. An intervention can be a profoundly charged situation with the potential to cause anger, resentment, blame, shame, and possibly a sense of betrayal.
When planning, an addiction professional will consider your loved one’s particular circumstances, recommend the best approach, and help decide what type of treatment and follow-up plan is likely to be the most effective.
Loved ones can conduct Interventions without a professional, but having help from an expert is often preferable. Sometimes, it’s beneficial to have the intervention occur at the professional’s office – an action that may drive home the point that the problem is indeed quite serious.
The person(s) responsible for organizing the intervention digs in to identify the extent of the loved one’s problem, research alcohol addiction, and appropriate treatment programs. The intervention organizer may then make arrangements to enroll the person in a specific substance abuse treatment program.
Forming the Intervention Team
The intervention organizer will identify and gather the team that will participate in the intervention. Team members schedule a date and location and collaborate to present a harmonious, shared message and a structured plan. Often, non-family members of the team help sustain the discussion’s focus on the facts of the problem and shared solutions rather than overwhelming emotional responses.
Note: The loved one should not know what you’re planning until the intervention begins.
An intervention team typically includes four to six people who are influential in the life of the loved one — those he or she loves, likes, and respects. These people may include parents, children, siblings, a best friend, and adult relatives. An intervention professional can help you identify and arrange appropriate members of your team.
Deciding on Consequences
Before the intervention takes place, each team member needs to decide the actions he or she will take if the loved one doesn’t accept treatment. For example, it may be appropriate to force the loved one to move out, and refuse to enable that person further, either physically, emotionally, or monetarily.
Take Notes on Dialogue – What to Express
Each person on the team describes specific events where the addiction caused problems, such as emotional, legal, or financial issues. Discuss the impact of your loved one’s behavior while continuing to display concern and compassion, and express the expectation that he or she can and should make a healthy change.
Moreover, ensure that your loved one can’t dispute facts or your emotional response to the problem. For example, one may begin by saying “I was upset and hurt when you drank…”
The Intervention Meeting is Held
Without disclosing the reason, the loved one with the addiction is directed to come to the site of the intervention. Team members then take turns expressing their concerns and feelings. The loved one is offered a treatment option and asked to accept that decision on the spot. Each person will state what specific changes will be made if the loved one doesn’t accept the plan and receive treatment.
Note: Whatever you do, don’t threaten the person with a consequence unless you’re 100% committed to following through with it.
The direct involvement of family members, a spouse, or others is critical to help someone with an addiction remain in treatment and avoid relapse. Actions may include changing patterns of everyday living to make it easier to prevent destructive behavior, offering to engage in counseling with the loved one, seeking your own personal therapist and support, and knowing what actions to take if a relapse does occur.
Effective intervention requires careful planning because a poorly executed intervention can exacerbate the situation – the loved one may feel threatened and become more isolated and resistant to treatment.
Finding a Treatment Program
An assessment by an addiction professional can help determine the scope of the problem and identify suitable treatment options.
Treatment options range in intensity and occur in a variety of environments. Options can include brief early intervention or intensive outpatient treatment programs. More severe problems may warrant admittance into a structured residential treatment program, facility or hospital.
Moderate to severe alcohol use disorders are often best treated beginning with a clinical detox program. A supervised detox ensures that the patient is safe and that 24/7 treatment and emotional support is available during the withdrawal process, which is often both mentally and physically vexing, and in some cases, can be life-threatening.
Following detox, patients begin treatment in a program that uses a comprehensive, integrated approach that includes evidence-based services such as behavioral therapy, counseling, education, and group support. Our center offers these treatments in both inpatient and outpatient program format.
Also, our center employs caring, professional health providers that equip patients with the tools and resources they need to achieve abstinence and sustain long-term sobriety and wellness.
Even if an intervention isn’t successful the first time around, you and others involved in your loved one’s life can make changes that help. Ask others connected to the situation to avoid enabling the vicious cycle of behavior and take action that promotes positive change.
If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction, contact us today and find out how we can help!