Alcoholism Intervention: Guidelines and Safest Practices
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Alcohol use disorder doesn’t only affect the drinker, it has the potential to wreck the lives of the people around the abuser. As friends and family members become increasingly concerned about their beloved one’s alcohol problem, they might gently approach them and try to address the condition. In the best-case scenario, this action will be well-received and the affected individual will act upon it. However, if the alcoholic is in denial about his or her addiction or simply doesn’t react to the initial talks, an intervention is most likely due.
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What Does an Intervention for Alcoholism Entail?
An alcohol intervention is a structured, face-to-face meeting between the person who is misusing alcohol and his or her loved ones. The meeting can be supervised by a professional substance abuse interventionist such as a counselor or therapist who is no stranger to the situations of this type. Interventions are most commonly staged by family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers, or an employer.
According to the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, alcoholics who undertake an intervention session are more likely to give up drinking and stay sober than those who never realize the dangers of the path they are taking.
An alcohol intervention is staged to achieve the following objectives:
- To educate the person on the destructive behaviors an alcohol addiction can incite
- To make the person aware of the negative effects their alcohol abuse places on the domestic budget
- To make the person realize how alcoholism is putting a strain on their romantic relationships
- To make the person realize how alcohol chips away at his or her ability to be productive and creative at work
- To encourage the addict to identify the root problem of their drinking behavior
- To nip the addict’s denial in the bud
- To present a detailed and realistic treatment plan
- To illustrate to the affected person how treatment will work towards an improved, healthier life
- To assure the abuser support is available throughout their journey
Why Hiring a Professional is a Good Idea
Deciding to stage an alcohol intervention on one’s own accord can sometimes result in negative rather than positive outcomes. A professionally-conducted intervention session will have a much higher success rate than an amateur-led one. Such sessions are chaired by a qualified alcohol intervention specialist, a mental health specialist, or a licensed alcohol and drug counselor. It is always wiser to hire a specialist when staging an alcoholism intervention because:
- They are specifically trained to handle interventions
- They are well-experienced in talking with addicts and knows how to convince them to make a U-turn in life
- They know how to handle situations in the most appropriate and safe manner
- An alcohol intervention specialist possesses the objectivity to interpret a situation in a way that family members and friends may not be able to
- A professional is experienced and knows the tactics that work with an addict — using particular words to convince and stirring specific emotions to elicit positive action
It is highly recommended to hold an intervention for alcoholism outside of home if:
- The person also has a mental disorder
- They have a tendency to be violent when stressed
- There is a suicidal element whereas the abuser has recently talked about committing suicide
- The individual also takes mood-altering substances
According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), a professionally-led intervention for alcoholics brings successful results in 90 percent of all cases.
How To Stage An Intervention for Alcoholism At Home?
There isn’t one right home-held alcohol intervention model. The best method will depend on the circumstances surrounding the individual’s case. The amount of preparation put in the session itself will play a key role, too. When preparing for a drinking intervention one should always ask themselves:
- Am I making sure most of the attendees are closely related to the abuser?
- Is the affected person going to be comfortable speaking in front of those present?
- Are all children absent from the meeting?
- Should I invite the person’s employer to give an insight of how the addiction is damaging his or her career?
- Have I hired an alcohol intervention specialist to lead and supervise the process?
Furthermore, it is important to determine the extent of one’s drinking problem and the potential repercussions. Finding out for how long the addiction has been going on will be the first step of assessing the situation and choosing between the alcohol intervention programs. The dose and frequency of one’s consumption will also help towards identifying the root of the issue. All of this knowledge will provide the interventionists with insight into the addiction and its harm to the abuser’s physical and mental wellbeing.
Only once the context of the addiction has been discussed in preparation for the intervention can one act to resolve it. One of the first steps is to ask all participants to write a personal letter. Alcohol intervention letters can go a long way in resolving one’s drinking problem. It is important to carefully write these beforehand as doing so will mean:
- All of the information participants want to convey to their loved one will be listed on the letter
- There is less space for drama as a script helps towards keeping a cool head and an objective attitude.
- The matter will be dealt with more delicacy and less edginess since the right words are all there on a piece of paper.
- Lines of communication will stay open even if the intervention fails as there were no outbursts of improvised accusations
When writing alcohol intervention letters, one is always advised to:
- Cultivate an attitude of compassion and love
- Write to resolve the situation, not to criticize the abuser.
- Include in the letter information about how alcohol damages health
- Cite instances when the loved one has hurt a person while intoxicated
- Ask the loved one’s employer to cite instances when the addicted person failed to perform satisfactorily in the workplace
- Present the treatment plan and specify why it is ideal in this case
- State the consequences one will enforce if the person refuses to accept help and seek treatment
Before staging an alcoholism intervention it is crucial to rehearse the scripts among participants. This will ensure no one gets carried away by the emotional intensity of the situation and will provide the attendees with a chance to listen to each other and figure out what sounds right. The last thing an individual wants to do is come across as threatening or aggressive and such gestures can be picked upon swiftly during the rehearsals.As soon as the participants go through each other’s scripts, a time and place for the meeting should be decided upon. This will keep everyone’s minds fresh when it comes to their part. Keep the following in mind when choosing a time and place for the meeting:
- Limit the meeting to 60-90 minutes.
- Choose a time when the loved one is sober and able to think clearly.
- Ensure that nobody has to leave the meeting midway to attend other matters.
- It is a good idea to hold the intervention meeting right after the loved one was involved in an alcohol-induced accident or violence.
- Choose a place where everyone can feel comfortable.
- If a person decides to hold the meeting in a public place, ensure that a person finds a spot that offers maximum privacy.
How to Maximize the Possibility of Success?
Try to increase the chances of success with these after-steps:
- Follow up on the loved one’s promises to seek help. If the loved one had promised that he or she would seek treatment during the meeting, wait for a few days after the meeting, then follow up on the pledge.
- Strictly enforce consequences, if need be. If the loved one does not seek help, enforce the consequences one had spelled out during the meeting. Leaving the house or stopping the cash flow might seem brutal but sometimes hitting rock bottom comes as a reality check that will jolt an addict in denial into action.
- Prepare for another alcohol intervention. A meeting may not immediately end in the wished-for results, but it will shine some spotlight on the problem. It may get the abuser thinking about his or her drinking behavior. In such cases, striking while the iron is hot is important and preparing to organize another intervention meeting is necessary.
The success of an alcohol intervention meeting is not gauged by whether or not the addicted person stops drinking right away. The primary goal of an intervention is to help the abuser realize they are addicted and should seek help. The road to recovery is never an easy one, but the end-results are worth the effort invested along the way.
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