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Alcohol Intervention Process

Assuming someone in your family is dealing with alcoholism, do you sometimes feel as though you are powerless to help? If so, we want you to know there is something you can do by way of an intervention. An intervention is a planned confrontation of the alcoholic designed to motivate him or her to agree to seek treatment. It is a tool that has been used successfully for decades.

What is the process for conducting an intervention? We will get to that in just a minute. Before we do however, there are a few important things you need to know:

  • Professional Help

    - You do not have to conduct an intervention on your own if you are uncomfortable doing so. There are plenty of trained counsellors who specialise in both direct and indirect interventions. They will provide as much assistance as you need.
  • Intervention Team - Conducting a successful intervention requires you to assemble a team of concerned individuals who genuinely want to help. The team usually consists of family members and very close friends. Yet it might also include other individuals that the alcoholic trusts implicitly.
  • Attitude - It is important that the intervention team understand that their attitudes play a critical role in the outcome of the intervention. Each team member must maintain an attitude of firm resolve and sobriety, without being accusatory or condemning.
  • Presentation - One of the most dangerous traps of the intervention is allowing it to be led by emotions. While emotions will certainly be part of the equation, the presentation made to the alcoholic must be based on facts. Everyone who agrees to speak must be willing to support his or her position with facts.

With these important things out of the way, let us get to the process. We’ve broken it down into five steps as follows:

Step 1 - Assemble Your Team

The first step is to assemble a team of family members and friends willing to get involved. Hopefully, this will not be difficult in your situation. Those who agree to be part of the team should be willing to devote several hours to planning the event, and several more hours for actually conducting the intervention.

Team members should be those closest to the alcoholic in question. It can include immediate family, extended family, close friends, co-workers, and so on. Each one who will be taking a turn to speak should be able to make some sort of close connection with the alcoholic.

Step 2 - Plan the Event

You’ve heard it said that failing to plan is planning to fail. That’s certainly true where an intervention is concerned. With your team assembled, you should sit down and plan how the intervention is going to take place, from start to finish. You may deviate from those plans as circumstances dictate, but you must have the plans in place just the same.

Your plan should include the order in which people will speak, a method to steer the conversation back should it go wayward, and a definitive means to bring the event to an end. Without proper plans in place, it is too easy for an intervention to become emotional chaos.

Step 3 - Confront the Alcoholic

When the day and time comes for the intervention, everyone involved should meet at a neutral location. The team leader begins the intervention by explaining to the alcoholic why everyone is assembled. Then, one by one, the individual team members take turns addressing the alcoholic. Be sure to maintain organisational control at all times.

It can be difficult to address the alcoholic without emotions getting in the way. To make it easier, some people simply write out a letter a few days before the event. When it is their turn to speak, they can simply read their letter aloud rather than having to think about what to say on the fly.

Step 4 - Expectations and Consequences

Once each team member has had the opportunity to directly address the alcoholic, it is time to lay out the group’s expectations. Those expectations may include everything from the individual getting treatment to ways by which he or she can regain the trust of family and friends. Please remember that expectations go hand-in-hand with consequences.

One of the big problems with addiction is a misunderstanding among addicts that there are no negative consequences for their behaviour. Consequences need to be part of your intervention. You need to set very clear consequences that you are willing to follow through on if expectations are not met. Without consequences, your intervention has no teeth and, as a result, no means of motivating change.

Step 5 - The Response

The final step in the intervention is to allow the alcoholic to respond to everything he or she has heard. In some cases, he or she will be defiant and riddled with denial. In such a case, there is nothing more you can do at that immediate time. It’s best just to end the intervention and wait to see what happens in the hours to come.

In other cases, the alcoholic will respond by admitting he or she has a problem and agreeing to seek treatment. Hopefully this is what happens in your case. If so, the team needs to be ready to respond with a list of treatment options the alcoholic can choose from. Please allow the alcoholic to participate in the process of choosing treatment. This gives him or her ownership of their decision and encourages them to follow through.

How can we help in all of this? By providing you with all the information you need about treatment options in the UK. Our job as a devoted advice and referral service is to walk you through your options, answer your questions, and, when necessary, help you make admission arrangements. We can help you if you are willing to let us.

Our alcoholic recovery specialists are waiting to hear from you. You can contact us by calling our free phone number or sending an e-mail. As soon as you do so, our dedicated staff will get right to work for you, your family, and the alcoholic.

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