How to Conduct an Intervention for Alcohol Addicts

There are different types of interventions for alcohol abuse: self-intervention, family intervention and professional intervention. The process is helpful but only if the addict agrees to seek help at rehab or treatment center. Here you will find some ideas on how to conduct an effective intervention with a family members or loved one who has alcoholism .

What Exactly is an intervention?

The word intervention can be intimidating. It sounds like a last resort, an act of desperation after all other options have failed. But that’s not the case at all! An intervention is actually just a meeting or gathering where people who care about someone struggling with addiction come together to provide support and offer encouragement for the person to get help.

Can Family and Friends Help Someone With an Addiction?

Many people find themselves wondering how to help someone with an addiction. It’s a difficult thing for loved ones to watch, especially if they have no idea where to start in helping the addict get better. For some addicts who are ready and motivated to clean up their act, all it takes is love and support from family members and friends.

Many addicts don’t want treatment because they’re afraid of what people might think, or that life without drugs will be boring, or even just that their addiction is too strong and getting better isn’t possible. An interventions work to help break down those fears and show the addict that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

What happens in a intervention?

-The addict is told in advance about the intervention and what will be happening. This can help them prepare for this big event, but also gives them time to think of excuses as to why they won’t go – like being too busy or not wanting to put anyone out! It’s important that everyone involved know going into the meeting how it will go.

-The addict is brought to the intervention location, which can be anywhere from a restaurant or hotel room to someone’s home depending on who lives closest and what sort of environment would feel most comfortable for everyone involved.

-Everyone who loves this person comes together and explains why they’re there – usually in reference to how much their addiction is hurting themselves or others around them.

-The addict will have a chance to speak if he/she chooses (not all addicts want this part of the intervention to happen and it’s up to them). They’ll be given a chance to explain their side, why they drink or use so much. This is often an emotional part for both sides

family comforting addict during intervention


When Should Family Members Intervene?

There are no strict guidelines for when you should or shouldn’t conduct an intervention, but it’s definitely something you should consider if any of the following are true:

-The addict is in acute withdrawal

-The addicts’ life or health is at risk because they’re doing something dangerous, like driving drunk or using dirty needles. Any time a person puts themselves (or others) in danger through their addiction deserves an intervention!

-You’ve tried to convince the addict to get help multiple times but they keep saying no

-The person is younger than 18 and struggling with addiction (it’s important that you seek professional advice if this applies)

When Is an Intervention Not Possible?

An intervention isn’t always possible for some addicts – especially if they’re living on their own without friends or family members who care about them enough to want to help. In these cases, it’s important for loved ones to do what they can from a distance: encourage self-help by attending meetings with the addict and finding ways to support them without meddling in their life so badly that they shut down all communication completely.

The most important thing when you’re dealing with an addiction is not just stopping it, but making sure the addict can recover and live a healthy life. If you have to wait until they’re ready for help before intervening, it’s okay! The important thing is that when they are ready to get better – there will be someone there who cares enough about them to show up and offer support at their intervention.

How Effective Are Interventions?

Research suggests that interventions are very effective when addicts are ready and willing to get help.

In a recent study, researchers found:

‘With effective and empowering therapeutic intervention through the family, a majority can be engaged in treatment despite little or no initial inclination to seek help.” (1)

The success of an intervention relies on careful planning and coordination. You should consider the following:

  • Inviting appropriate participants
  • Selecting a date, time, research addiction to share with team members
  • It is crucial to get an immediate evaluation done so that a treatment plan can be developed. You may need to find and consult with a rehab center prior to the intervention to ensure a smooth transition from the intervention to beginning of treatment.
  • Anticipating potential objections and having solutions ready for them is one way to have a successful intervention. For example, if you believe your loved one will object to treatment due to parenting obligations, you should have childcare plans on hand before the meeting so that they can be addressed at once.
  • Your loved one may be defensive and react with hostility to the intervention. To make sure everything goes according to plan, stick to your talking points during the conversation that you prepared ahead of time. If things go off track, it could derail an otherwise productive interaction so remain composed at all times!

If you do decide to go ahead with an intervention, it’s important that everyone involved in the process be safe and there for their loved one no matter what. It can also help to ask a professional like addiction counselors or treatment providers about how best to handle the situation so they don’t get worse before rehab has even started!

In fact, when the families sought professional guidance and instruction prior to conducting a intervention, they experienced up to a 90% success rate of the addict entering treatment.

group therapy as intervention

Different types of interventions

There are many different kinds of interventions, but they generally follow this same idea: trying to convince an addict to accept treatment so they don’t die from their addiction.

Sit Down Intervention   – The entire family sits down and talks with the addicted individual about how serious the problem is becoming. This often takes place when a person has already decided to get help, but the family just wants to express their support.

Reflective Listening – In this type of intervention, loved ones try and understand all aspects of substance abuse from the addict’s perspective. They have a heart-to-heart conversation about what is going well in life and where they think things are falling apart because of addiction.

Loving Detachment – This is the opposite of a sit down intervention, where family members remove themselves from as much contact with an addict as possible to show their support and hope for recovery but also love them enough not to enable destructive habits. The idea behind this approach is that addicts need space in order to hit rock bottom so they can find their own personal reasons to get clean and sober.

Plan-It Intervention – This is a joint family meeting where loved ones create an intervention plan that includes details about available treatment centers, what the addict will need when they are ready for rehab, and who can provide support once they’ve completed addiction recovery.

The Johnson Model – A really popular type of intervention, this model allows family members to discuss the negative impact that addiction has had on their lives and then ask questions about what they can do together in order for loved ones get help. This process encourages communication among those involved and helps them all work toward a common goal.

How to set up an intervention?

Preparing ahead of time is key to ensuring that the meeting goes as smoothly as possible. Family members should write down what they want to say, who will be there and how long it will take so everyone knows what to expect at every stage of the conversation.

The first step is finding a private place where everyone can talk without interruptions or distractions, such as a family member’s home or another quiet location that the addict won’t be likely to attend.

The meeting should begin at around the same time and last for about 60 minutes – anything less than that might not be sufficient for the conversation.

Before continuing with an intervention, you might also consider holding a family conference where everyone can learn more about the process and get support from others who have been through it.

Who should be in an intervention?

When there are multiple people involved in an intervention, it’s important that they all have the addict’s best interest at heart. This means family members should only participate if they can support their loved one no matter what happens as well as stick to a unified message about why this is so critical for recovery.

An intervention isn’t successful unless everyone agrees on what they want to happen and why. People should also hold back on anything that might be judgmental, even if it’s not directed at the addict directly but rather their addiction in general. For example, no one should say “you have an alcohol problem” because this can be emotionally charged for addicts who feel like they’ve already failed by acknowledging their addiction.

When should an intervention take place?

It’s best to host this type of sit down when a person is sober and has indicated that they are ready to seek treatment, but it can also be helpful during detox or even early recovery if there needs to be more discussion about why rehab is necessary. An addict might also go to rehab on their own, but it’s better for everyone involved if the family can be there in person and even accompany them.

What should you avoid doing during an intervention?

The biggest mistake that loved ones make is pushing too hard or not listening carefully enough to what addicts have to say about why they are struggling with addiction. There’s also a fine line between being supportive and enabling, so it’s important to not offer money or other types of support unless they are specifically requested.

Finally, family members should avoid saying anything that could be considered confrontational since this can have the opposite impact on addicts who don’t want to admit their problem in public.

What if an intervention doesn’t work?

Some addicts will flat out reject treatment, either because they’re too afraid of change or that their addiction is so strong it’s impossible for them to quit.

It’s normal to feel disappointed if an addict refuses to go with the family members who are trying to help them, but addicts aren’t required or obligated to make that choice. If they refuse treatment when their loved ones have gathered together for a heartfelt conversation, it’s best not to argue about it and instead let them know that they can still help.

For example, family members could say something along the lines of “we care about you and we’re here to support you no matter what happens,” before suggesting rehab again in a few weeks or months when everyone has had more time to adjust. If this fails as well, a professional interventionist is another way to get an addict into rehab since they have more experience in these types of situations.

Interventions are a way to provide your loved one with the support they need, and help them get back on track. The best thing you can do is talk to us today about how we can set up an intervention for that person in your life who needs it most. We’ll work alongside you as well as other family members or friends of the addict to come together and offer encouragement and support.


Practical Tips for a Success Intervention

As previously mentioned, careful planning and rehearsal are paramount to the success of your intervention. Below are a few specific tips to consider when crafting your intervention strategy.

A successful intervention is dependent on a good support team. Only include people your loved one respects and depends on, such as family members or close friends that’s not at risk of making the situation worse due to mental health issues, substance use problems, inability to self-control commentary during talking points or having negative relationships with them.

  • It is not necessary for the addicts whole family to attend, but as many that can attend that meet the above criteria should.

Plan a time and place for the intervention that works well with everyone’s schedule. Make sure it is private so your loved one feels comfortable opening up about their struggles without anyone around who might judge them based on what they say.

  • Avoid holding the meeting at the addicts home or environment rich with memories or meaning as this might trigger the addict in unforeseen ways.
  • Ideas for neutral meeting places to hold the intervention include conference rooms, places of worship, hotel room or therapist office.

Focus on moving forward together from this point in time toward sobriety rather than dwelling on past transgressions by others against your loved one or anything else negative related to his/her addiction. These should not be brought up during an intervention as even more problems could arise if there are disagreements among family members over how things were handled previously (e.g., financial support).

Be respectful and compassionate throughout the intervention. This includes treating your loved one with kindness even if they don’t seem receptive to what is being said, as well not using overly emotional or aggressive language that could make them feel like you are attacking them personally (e.g., “you’re a real piece of work,” etc.).

Think about how negative consequences related to their addiction have affected everyone in terms of physical health, mental/emotional wellness, finances, employment opportunities and more. Be sure these issues are addressed during the intervention so he/she knows how much pain this has caused those around him/her who love and care about his/her wellbeing.

It’s also important for your team members to be on board with any treatment options you plan to explain during the intervention. They should feel comfortable with their choices, whether it’s a specific rehab center or an outpatient program that is available in your area.

Take care of yourself before and after the intervention.

The intervention process can be very stressful and filled with emotion. Consider seeking help from the following resources to help you maintain your composure and mental health well-being.

  • Support groups – Al Anon offers support and guidance to family members of alcohol addicts
  • Seek Therapy – Discuss your feelings and develop a personalized plan on how you will handle the process of confronting your loved one and how you will move forward.



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