Staging An Intervention For Alcoholism
Author: Krystina Murray
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What Is the Purpose of Alcoholism Interventions?
Alcoholism interventions are useful meetings for assisting those battling alcohol use disorders (AUD) and can be facilitated by family members or professionals. The purpose of an intervention is to let an individual know that their loved ones are concerned about their drinking and that their drinking has negatively impacted them. The ultimate goal is that the subject of the intervention is convinced to attend treatment. Interventions encourage people to be accountable for their substance use compulsions by understanding how it impacts their friends and families.
Interventions do not have to occur exclusively for alcoholism. They can occur for other forms of drug abuse, as well as behavioral addictions like gambling, sex addiction, and binge eating.
Because someone who struggles with an alcohol use disorder may be in denial about their problem with alcohol or may not understand the severity of the problem, interventions are useful in providing insight and solutions.
They allow friends and family to express concerns and share how they have been impacted by the subjects drinking. They encourage the subject of the intervention to come to terms with needing help. If the person is receptive to the intervention and willing to seek help, the intervention serves as an opportunity for them to develop plans of action to seek help and heal.
In this case, the person’s family, friends, and the interventionist should already have a treatment center chosen for the person where they can get the help that they need. The person will then hopefully agree to go to treatment.
Furthermore, interventions provide concrete examples of ways the individual can begin to transform their habits and alternatives if they do not accept treatment. While the ultimate goal of an intervention is to convince the person to start rehab immediately, the person’s loved ones should be prepared to set boundaries and enforce consequences, such as forcing the person to live elsewhere, if the person continues drinking. Determining consequences before the intervention and following through with them after intervention is critical. That is their “bottom line.”
It is best to consult a trained, professional interventionist to ensure an effective and successful intervention, which requires extensive planning and experience.
Why Are Interventions Needed?
Taking part in an intervention can bring about a change in behavior and build trust within the family system. If relatives wish to express the impact their loved one’s alcoholism has had on their lives, interventions would be the best time to do so. Interventions can put the individual on the path to getting treatment in order to fix the damage done by drug or alcohol abuse. Actions and goals are an essential part of interventions which provide resolutions to problems.
When Are Interventions Needed?
An intervention is needed when a person is struggling with substance abuse and it becomes clear that the loved one cannot be motivated to seek help on their own. An intervention can help someone with substance use problem who is not driven to seek help or denies they have a problem. The following are several behaviors which indicate that a person may need help overcoming an addiction:
- His or her behavior is secretive.
- He or she borrows money for alcohol.
- He or she exhibits aggressive behavior.
- He or she has health problems.
- He or she causes fights at home.
- He or she has a family member enables or rescues them through their codependency.
- He or she exhibits poor work and academic performance.
- He or she endangers their life or the life of someone else.
An intervention is necessary when a person with a substance use disorder (SUD) does not comprehend the dangerous road on which they are traveling, and when they continue to drink alcohol despite negative consequences, whether they be related to health, finances, education, or work. An intervention is also necessary when family members have made multiple attempts to establish boundaries while attempting to help them, with with little to no positive effect.
Staging Interventions: The Process And Procedure
An intervention is a facilitated conversation in which people who love and care about a person with an addiction come together to gently persuade the person to seek professional help by sharing how they have been negatively affected by the subjects drinking. It is important to take careful time and consideration when planning an intervention. It is a good idea to hire a professional interventionist who can help you put together a plan for the intervention. There are certain steps that should be taken when planning and conducting an intervention. A brief set of steps include:
- Choose specific family members and loved ones to participate in the intervention.
- Choose a professional interventionist with experience conducting interventions.
- Work with the interventionist for guidance as each participant prepares a speech or letter describing how much they love and value the addicted individual, but how they have also been negatively impacted by the person’s addiction. These letters will also include “bottom lines” if the individual refuses to get help. For example, “If you decide to keep drinking, I will not allow you around your grandchildren alone.” There is to be no shaming or mean words.
- Rehearse the letters with the interventionist and the group. Get feedback and revise as needed.
- Make treatment arrangements for the loved one, as the goal of the intervention is to get the addicted individual into treatment.
- Find the right time to talk with your loved one who has an addiction, preferably a time that they are sober or a sober as possible. Alcohol reduces a person’s ability to think clearly, remember things, and react calmly. During the meeting, each family member and loved one will take time to read their letter to the loved one including their bottom line. At the end, the loved one will be offered the chance to enter treatment with the support of the family and loved ones. If the addicted individual refuses to enter treatment, it is crucial that the ultimatums given are followed-through.
- Do not have expectations. Hope for the best and speak from the heart. Do not be discouraged, you have planted a seed and their drinking will never be the same. Recovery is a process.
Interventions for alcoholism can include family members, closed friends, colleagues, and medical professionals. Here are some tips to ensure interventions run smoothly:
- Finding a good location.
- Preparing an action plan.
- Getting necessary information.
- Choosing a good time.
- Identifying possible consequences.
- Having a speech or a 1-page letter prepared.
- Having a professional present if possible.
- Creating a “bottom line.”
- Following up or following through with consequences and/or rewards.
- Having a treatment center ready for the person.
Including these steps increases the likelihood of an organized and well-structured intervention meeting. Other steps, like researching how to stage an intervention, being prepared for challenges, and keeping a central focus can ensure the individual needing treatment can have an objective perspective and facilitators remain calm.
Staging Interventions: How To Communicate Effectively
Regardless of who participates in an intervention, there should be a tone of compassion and empathy. The individual suffering with alcohol abuse or substance abuse may have underlying trauma or unhealed emotional wounds of which he or she is unaware of.
Judging or criticizing the subject needing treatment can put him or her on the defensive. As a result, he or she may shut down and refuse to cooperate. On the other hand, having a codependent or enabling approach won’t do much to help the situation either. These behaviors excuse and cater to the needs of someone abusing alcohol. Remaining mindful of the intent to help someone seek help is key in maintaining boundaries.
Take The Necessary Steps Today
Staging an intervention is a step toward creating positive change in your loved one’s life. Getting prepared for an intervention can be easy with the help of a treatment provider. During an intervention occurs, the primary goal is to get the person with an addiction to agree to seek help. Alcoholism is a multi-layered disease that may need further care. Contact a treatment provider today to find out more.
Author: Krystina Murray | Last Edited: November 29, 2021
Medical Reviewer: Deborah Montross Nagel