An alcohol intervention is a gathering of family and friends with the goal of getting the addicted person to seek treatment. It’s not an attack. There’s a right way and a wrong way to go about addressing the issue of addiction, and you want to be as compassionate as possible.
Here are ten tips for how to stage an alcohol intervention.
1. Plan The Intervention Ahead Of Time
An alcohol intervention isn’t something you do on the spur of the moment. It should be carefully planned.
Be mindful of what’s going on in the addicted person’s life and choose a time that isn’t full of other stressors. Hold it in a place where everyone will be comfortable and safe.
When you approach your loved one, have a clear goal in mind. Maybe there’s a specific treatment program you want them to consider or you just want them to see their problem with alcohol consumption.
Decide how you want to go about reaching your goal. What would the person respond best to? Set the tone for the event and make sure everyone on the intervention team is on the same page.
2. Educate Yourself On Addiction
Educating yourself on alcohol addiction can help you understand how your loved one is feeling and what they’re struggling with.
It may be hard for you to imagine being addicted to alcohol—maybe you can have an occasional glass of wine and be fine. Learning what it’s like for them is essential to having compassion for their situation and encouraging them to seek the care they need.
3. Explore Alcohol Addiction Treatment Options
Having an idea of what to expect in treatment may make it less intimidating to the addicted person. It could also help them believe that healing is possible.
4. Gather Loved Ones
Gather close friends and family members that the addicted person loves. Remember, it’s not about you and who you think should be there. It’s about who has a deep connection with the person who needs help—whose opinions they will value.
Have everyone prepare what they’ll say in advance. An alcohol intervention is an emotional event, but it’s vital to not let your emotions control you. You want to let the person know how much you love them, care about them, and want them to have a better life.
5. Be Prepared For Opposition
Your addicted loved one may not respond the way you hope. Be prepared for them to deny their alcohol abuse or to claim that they can stop drinking any time they want. Have responses in mind for these common oppositions.
Pointing out situations in which they lost control of their drinking or hurt someone else while intoxicated might get them to see it’s a serious issue. But do it with compassion, not with blame.
6. Remember That Addiction Is No One’s Fault
“I didn’t cause it, I can’t control it, and I can’t cure it.” It’s not your fault that your loved one is addicted to alcohol. Blaming yourself may make you act in ways that hurt them or enable their substance abuse.
Blaming them is even more damaging. When you abuse alcohol, your brain changes so you crave it and feel you need it to function. It can be nearly impossible to stop drinking on your own, even if you want to.
Blaming someone for their addiction causes shame and guilt, which is more likely to turn them back to alcohol than to get them into treatment.
7. Determine Consequences If They Refuse Treatment
There’s a chance the intervention won’t work, or at least won’t get your loved one to agree to treatment right away. If that happens, you should have a plan for how you’ll handle it.
For example, if you’ve been giving them money or a place to live because their alcohol addiction has made it hard to hold down a job, it might be time to cut them off financially.
It might seem like the hardest thing to do, but by making it possible for them to keep drinking, you’re enabling their addiction rather than helping them heal.
8. Consult An Intervention Specialist
An intervention specialist (or interventionist) is a mental health professional who knows what a successful intervention looks like. They will work with you to create a plan for your loved one’s unique situation. They’ll also be able to educate you on addiction and treatment options.
Mayo Clinic recommends hiring a professional interventionist if your loved one:
- has a history of mental illness
- has a history of violence
- has talked about or attempted suicide
If you’re concerned about a violent reaction from the addicted person, either toward themselves or others, it makes sense to have professional help.
9. Have The Intervention When They’re Sober
Make sure your loved one is sober when you have an alcohol intervention. Depending on how severe their addiction is, this might be difficult. But at least make sure they’re not heavily intoxicated.
When someone is drunk, they aren’t in a rational frame of mind to make decisions about their future. It’s also unlikely that they’ll want to give up alcohol while they’re under the influence of its positive effects.
10. Follow-Up After The Intervention
If the addicted person agrees to get help, make sure they follow through. Support them as they explore alcohol rehab programs and enroll in addiction treatment.
During rehab, be there for them as much as you can. Some treatment centers have limited visiting and outside communication, but you can usually still connect once in a while.
If your loved one refuses treatment, don’t give up. Continue to encourage them to ask for help and be careful not to enable their addiction.
To learn more about alcohol addiction and treatment options, speak with an Ark Behavioral Health treatment specialist today.