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How do I Plan an Alcoholism Intervention?

By Jessica Hobby
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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When an alcoholic remains in complete denial about his disease and how it affects him and the people around him, family, close friends and colleagues may choose to stage an alcoholism intervention. An intervention is a process which involves confronting an alcoholic in a loving way to get him to accept help for his problem. In order to stage a successful alcoholism intervention, there are specific guidelines which should be followed.

The first thing to do when planning an alcoholism intervention is to educate participants about the disease of alcoholism prior to a confrontation. Education about alcoholism aids participants in understanding the behavior of their alcoholic and how the addiction affects people who suffer from it. Education also serves as a vehicle for participants to learn how to approach their loved ones without getting angry, attacking them and putting them on the defensive.

Another important guideline for an alcoholism intervention is location. The intervention must take place on neutral ground. The alcoholic will become defensive if he feels attacked in his own home. If he feels his family, friends and colleagues are up to something at their homes, he may just leave. Neutral ground forces participants of the intervention and the alcoholic to remain calm, cool and collected.

People invited to participate in the intervention should be limited to close friends, family and colleagues, when it may be appropriate. The alcoholic has already learned how to hide his habit and secrets in certain situations. In order to reach him, it is necessary to fill the intervention with people who truly love and care about his recovery and also with people who are close to him who he has really harmed.

Finally, the intervention should not last longer than 60 to 90 minutes. Longer sessions create the atmosphere for emotions to go haywire. Anger may flare from all parties. Similarly, compassion toward the alcoholic and compassion from the alcoholic toward the people he may have harmed will decline when the intervention lasts too long.

Before confronting a loved one, those people planning an intervention should consult a drug and alcohol addiction specialist. These professionals are experienced with the behavior of alcoholics and regularly conduct formal interventions. Although it is not necessary to have a specialist present during an intervention, it is highly recommended. At the very least, a specialist can guide the family and friends of an alcoholic through the proper actions of an alcoholism intervention.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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