It has been said that an alcoholic cannot truly be helped until he or she reaches that point of hitting ’rock bottom’. That may be true in some cases, but it’s not true in every case. It is possible to encourage the alcoholic to seek treatment by way of something known as an intervention. The intervention is a motivating tool that has been used by the addiction recovery community for many years.
We will not go into a detailed description here as we have done that elsewhere on this website. However, in a nutshell, an intervention is an organised gathering of people who meet for the sole purpose of confronting the alcoholic about his or her behaviour. The point of the intervention is to help the individual see and understand how his or her behaviour is negatively affecting others. It will hopefully prompt them to seek help.
Blinded by Addiction
You may be wondering why an intervention is necessary for the alcoholic to get well. It comes down to the simple fact that alcohol causes a mental and emotional blindness of sorts – a blindness that does not allow the alcoholic to clearly see the consequences of his or her behaviour. This blindness is easily observed by friends and family members in a number of ways:
- a lack of concern for others
- a lack of personal responsibility
- a tendency toward verbal abuse
- a failure to recognise family or financial issues
- a lack of personal hygiene and household cleanliness.
When an addict is blinded by alcohol consumption, he or she mistakenly believes their drinking only affects them self. They have no concept that their behaviour is negatively impacting their spouse, their children and just about everyone else they comes in contact with. Opening their eyes to these things is the purpose of the intervention.
Remember that persistent and chronic alcoholism affects both the physical and psychological functioning of the brain. The alcohol interrupts the brain’s chemical receptors, thus causing changes in physical function and thought processes. The longer a person drinks, the worst these problems become.
Focusing on Others
Experts say that conducting an intervention should be done with the focus squarely on others, rather than the alcoholic. In other words, the group should make it clear how his alcoholism is negatively affecting those around them. It does no use to warn them of the danger they are putting them self in, as they have already demonstrated they are not concerned about them self.
When an intervention is approached from the perspective of others, it opens up the addict’s eyes to something he or she never considered before. The truth is that alcoholics do not intentionally set out to hurt other people. Many do not even know they are doing so. However, when presented with the facts, they might be motivated to get professional help for their drinking problem.
What You Can Do
As a family member or close friend of an alcoholic, you may feel as though you are powerless to do anything about the situation. You may feel like the best you can do is hold on for dear life while trying to minimise the damage the alcoholic does to the family. And to a certain extent, that is true. You cannot force the alcoholic to get well. Only he or she can do that for them self.
What you can do is look into conducting an intervention. There are three ways you can confront your alcoholic loved one:
- Independently – Some families choose to conduct an intervention completely independent of professional help. They do some research online, maybe read a few books, and then plot the strategy among themselves. When it comes time to confront the alcoholic, they meet in a neutral place and go for it.
- Partial Assistance – Another group of families prefers to get the advice and counsel of an experienced professional before conducting the intervention. Family members may go sit with the counsellor for an extended amount of time, allowing the counsellor to give them sound advice. They conduct the intervention only when they are confident they are prepared.
- Full Assistance – Still others choose to conduct an intervention with the full assistance of a trained professional. Going this route offers a number of benefits. First of all, working with a professional means the office can be used as a neutral meeting place. In addition, the professional counsellor can lead the intervention to prevent the alcoholic from feeling as his or her family is attacking them.
How a family conducts an intervention is really up to their own personal preferences. The important thing is that there is a willingness to get involved on behalf of the person needing help. That willingness is a vital part of providing the support structure the alcoholic will ultimately need to get well.
After the Intervention
After every intervention comes the question of what to do next. If the intervention fails to motivate the individual to get help, do not be discouraged. Sometimes multiple interventions are necessary before success is achieved. While you wait for another opportunity, do your best to limit the damage done by the alcoholic.
If the intervention is successful, it is important that you immediately get working on admitting your loved one to a rehab programme. You may only have a short window of time before the individual changes his or her mind. We can help you make the most of that short window by providing you information about treatment options before you begin the intervention.
As an independent referral and advice service, it is part of our mission to stay up-to-date regarding the various treatment options for alcoholism in the UK. When you get in touch with us on behalf of a loved one, we can let you know up front what your options are. As soon as a successful intervention has been completed, you can call us right back so we can help you make admission arrangements for your loved one.
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