Alcohol abuse is tough on the addict. It causes a number of physical and mental changes and as addiction is a progressive, chronic disease, these changes grow more and more terrible as time passes by.
But, the alcoholic isn't the only one suffering. His or her friends and family are also reeling from the impact of the addiction.
No one wants to stand by and witness suffering. The problem is that nothing can be done until the addict admits having a problem.
There are people who can disrupt dangerous drinking patterns on their own, but many people can't, and they need formal treatment. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, roughly 16 million adults over the age of 18 have an alcohol use disorder.
Of these, only 8.9 percent of them will ever receive help. That number is woefully low. There should be far more people getting help. But, how do friends and family get an alcoholic into treatment when the person won't acknowledge that their drinking is problem? One way is via intervention. Of families who choose to pursue an intervention, 75 percent of them actually get the subject of the intervention into treatment, according to a study in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. Your family could be one of those.
What Is an Intervention?
At its most basic, it is a planned process during which family and friends gather to confront the subject of the intervention about their alcohol use and its consequences; then, they urge the subject to enter treatment. Often, the intervention is developed with the help of a doctor or subject matter expert, like a licensed alcohol and drug counselor. It may be directed by a professional interventionist.
Participants may expand beyond family and friends to include clergy members, neighbors, and co-workers. The intervention will:
- Provide specific examples of harmful behaviors and their effect on both the alcoholic and the other assembled participants.
- Offer a completed treatment plan with well-defined steps, objectives, and rules.
- Spell out the consequences of refusing to seek treatment.
Intervention Step 1: Planning - Once an intervention is proposed, a group needs to be formed and everyone needs to get involved in planning. At this point, it really is best to consult with and expert, like:
- Qualified Professional Counselor
- Addiction Specialist
- Social Worker
- Mental Health Counselor
Because the actual intervention will be quite emotional, it is imperative to have a solid plan in order to keep things progressing. Without one, you run the risk of having the entire thing derail.
Intervention Stage 2: Information Gathering - This is the time at which people look into the extent of the alcohol use disorder being intervened upon. The condition and the best possible treatments for that particular case should be researched. This might be a good time to enroll the subject of the intervention in a specific program, so that it is ready for them to enter immediately after the intervention.
Intervention Stage 3: Forming a Team - The planning group narrows themselves to only the people who will be present during the interventions. Letting everyone get involved can also derail the intervention. The team sets a date and location and they all work to present a plan with a consistent message and a clear structure. This is a time when non-family members can keep things focused, rather than emotionally charged.
Intervention Stage 4: Consequences - Every person needs to decide what they will do if treatment is rejected.
Intervention Stage 5: Making Notes - This is the time when the actual script of the intervention is prepared. Come up with specific examples of incidents caused by the alcoholism. Prepare to speak about the weight of the problem, while also expressing love and support. The alcoholic can't argue with your feelings or with factual events.
Intervention Stage 6: The Intervention - Without revealing it is an intervention, get the loved one to the location. The central team takes this time to work through their notes. The subject of the intervention is presented with the treatment option earlier researched and given the option of going. If not, explain the consequences.
Intervention Stage 7: Follow Up - The people from the intervention need to remain present and supportive during treatment. They also need to change their own patterns to minimize the chance of relapse when the alcoholic returns to their daily life post-treatment.
A poorly arranged intervention can make things worse. Plan well and get professional help 800-807-0951 if you can. It will make a difference.