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Alcohol Intervention

Alcohol Intervention

If someone in your household is abusing alcohol, ignoring it quickly becomes an impossible task. It will affect every member of the household differently, but it can still be hard to know when an alcohol intervention needs to take place. There are several warning signs to look for that can indicate if the alcohol abuse has gotten to the point of no control.

These signs include:

  1. They have to drink. When the use of alcohol becomes an impulsive thing, your loved one will no longer be able to control when, where, how often or how much they drink. Some telltale signs would include: drinking in the morning, bringing alcohol to inappropriate places (such as work or school), inability to stop drinking once they’ve started or inability to cut down on consumption.
  2. Health problems occur. If your loved one is experiencing abnormal screenings during routine visits to the doctor, or starts to experience major health problems, this could be a red flag for substance abuse and a good indicator that an alcohol intervention could be necessary.
  3. Safety concerns. There are a number of ways that someone who is intoxicated can cause harm to themselves or others. They may choose to drive while intoxicated, which may result in an accident that involves them or those around them to be injured. Alcohol may give your loved one a short fuse that could lead to an uncharacteristically short temper resulting in physical altercations with others. They may also engage in criminal behavior to obtain more of the substance.
  4. Subtlety isn’t working. It is not uncommon for the family members of someone abusing alcohol to attempt to point out their behavior in brief conversations, or small, informal family gatherings. Not unlike a full-blown intervention, they may even suggest treatment, or concerns with the person’s behavior. If these subtle hints or gentle prodding aren’t enough to convince your loved one to make a change, that may be a sign that they are in need of a more formal and pointed intervention.

Intervention for Your Loved One

When your loved one’s drinking reaches a point that you feel obligated to act, it is time for your alcohol intervention. The goal of this intervention is to encourage your loved one to seek treatment for their drinking dependency. Alcoholism is a disease, and as such, it is unlikely that it is going to get better on its own. The longer you wait to stage your alcohol intervention, the more likely it is that there will be damage to your loved one, either physically or mentally.

An intervention for alcoholics is an opportunity for them to recognize how their behavior affects others, and gives them an opportunity to seek treatment for their disease. While that is always the goal of an intervention, it is not out of the question that your loved one may be unwilling to accept the reality of their situation. The alcohol intervention may bring up strong feelings from your loved one, which can be a very difficult situation for everyone involved. Hearing how their friends and family have been hurt by their addiction may cause your loved one to feel sad, anxious or even angry.

Preparation is critical when it comes to staging a successful intervention. It is a good idea to utilize the expertise of someone who is trained to run interventions, as they are able to help set the desired tone for the meeting, as well as helping everyone stay on track. They will also be able to help you develop the best strategy to approach your loved one, with the goal of making the conversation as impactful and productive as possible.

There are several important steps to go through in order to stage a productive intervention:

  • Do your research. Make sure you know as much about alcoholism, interventions and treatment options as possible. This will help you to understand your loved one’s struggle better, as well as making you knowledgeable during your alcohol intervention. Feeling prepared, and having talking points will ensure a confident delivery on the day of your intervention.
  • Select your participants. You will not want to go through the experience of an intervention alone, and it is always best to approach your loved one in a group to show multiple examples of how their behavior is damaging the relationships around them. It is a best practice to include those who have been hurt by the behavior first hand. This is also a good time to enlist the help of a professional who will be able to guide you and your family, and be present to help with the intervention on the big day.
  • Practice your points. In the days leading up to the intervention, you are bound to feel a little anxious and stressed. Make sure you practice what you would like to say to your loved one out loud, maybe even looking in a mirror or rehearsing with the other members of your intervention group. The more prepared you are, the easier it will be to stay on point on the big day.
  • Execute your plan. Once you and your participants have the day set and have established what you would like to discuss, you will need to set a day and time for the meeting. It is important that you choose a time when your loved one is unlikely to be drunk or in the process of sobering up. It is also important to make sure that your loved one does not know that the intervention is happening. While surprising them with a group of people intent on talking about their drinking may feel like an ambush at first, keeping your intervention a secret will ensure that your loved one shows up, and that they don’t come in with a defensive attitude or counter argument.
  • Give examples. Your loved one will likely feel that the concern is unnecessary, or an intervention is an extreme course of action. Make sure to bring examples of behavior to support your concerns. Don’t be afraid to include emotional, physical, personal or professional examples that you have witnessed as a result of their drinking. Reliving specific situations with your loved one while they are sober will help them to understand your perspective at the time of the incident.
  • Stay calm. One of the hardest parts of an intervention is to remain calm and resist the urge to let the conversation become negative, judgmental or accusatory. It is a very emotional experience for both you and your loved one, and hurt feelings are bound to be involved. Make sure you take time to collect yourself if you feel the conversation is moving in a negative direction. Keep it positive, and make sure your loved one knows that they have your support in this, but the behavior has to change.
  • Offer treatment options. Come to your intervention prepared with information on a rehabilitation facility. Let your loved one know that you will be there for them every step of the way and talk over all possible solutions with them in order to achieve whatever goal you set for yourself before going into the intervention.

Brief Intervention for Alcohol Problems

Another type of intervention option would be the brief intervention for alcohol problems. This type of intervention is particularly helpful to those users who may be at a “risky” level of drinking, but who are not dependent on alcohol. Typically, brief intervention would last four or fewer sessions and has a goal of moderating the amount of alcohol consumed, rather than doing away with it altogether.

The approach of a brief intervention can vary depending on the severity of the problem, and the desired outcome. While the behavior for both dependent and non-dependent alcohol users can be varied, the approach to sobriety through brief intervention is very similar in both cases. The primary goal for those who are dependent on alcohol is abstinence, and brief intervention has also been used to motivate alcohol-dependent users to seek specialized treatment beyond the brief intervention option.

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