How to Stage an Intervention for a Loved One Suffering From Alcoholism

While about 14.4 million people struggle with alcohol addiction in the US, only about 7.9% of them ever get help. If your loved one is suffering from addiction, you may feel scared and helpless with the fear that they never will get better. This is a valid fear, and you're far from alone.

However, there's hope. With the help of caring loved ones like yourself, someone suffering from alcoholism can get their life back on track. Staging an intervention is the first step to ensuring this happens- it's a way to show that you care about your loved one and a way to show that you notice what's going on with them.

Read on to learn how to stage an intervention and have it be as successful as possible!

Do Your Research

The first thing that you'll want to do before even asking others if they think that an intervention is necessary is to perform a little research.

This means making sure that you know how a real-life intervention is supposed to work. While you may have seen interventions staged before in films, you need to be certain that your information is factual and accurate rather than being a dramatic rendition of an intervention. 

Make sure that you use reputable sources such as medical journals and addiction centers when gathering your information. Scientifically-backed information is crucial when determining how to interact with someone who is under mind-altering substances in a way that will ensure that they listen.

Decide Who Needs to Be There

The people at an intervention should be those closest to your loved one. However, they also should be people that they have a history of listening to and valuing the opinions of. A group of close friends usually will do the trick, but they should all be people that your loved one knows have no agenda besides helping them to get better.

Siblings and close cousins are good people to reach out to when staging an intervention, but you might want to ask parents to sit it out. No matter how much your loved one may care for their parents, having them at an intervention will make them feel like they're being treated like a child. This will make matters worse when trying to get them to be receptive to your message.

Choose a Time and Place

Once you know who needs to be present at your intervention, it's time to select a time and place for it to happen.

When it comes to choosing the right time, you'll want to consider when your loved one is usually at their best. Does their drinking get worse in the evening, or are they a round-the-clock alcoholic? If they're the former, a simple morning intervention may do the trick. For the latter, you may need to get creative by choosing times immediately after work or events where the effects of alcohol may be beginning to wear off.

For the location, you're going to want to choose a place where your loved one is comfortable. Having many people stage an intervention for you is a stressful experience, and if you're in an uncomfortable location to boot, your loved one may become agitated and unwilling to listen. 

Contact an Intervention Specialist

An intervention specialist is a professional who facilitates communication during an intervention. Their job is to keep the conversation moving freely so that people can communicate effectively. These specialists also work to prevent any arguments or fights from breaking out by encouraging calm discussion.

Interventions involving a specialist are successful the vast majority of the time. Their success rate is significantly higher than DIY interventions, which can make matters worse if communication is stunted and parties are agitated.

Script the Intervention

You and others involved in the intervention will then need to sit down and come up with a loose script. If you jump into your intervention with no preparation, you're more likely to say unhelpful things or become frustrated with the addict you're trying to help.

Make sure that you prepare for multiple different scenarios and anticipate the responses of your loved one. Emphasize the fact that you care about them and are staging this discussion to help them get better. You'll also want to talk with others involved in the intervention about what you're going to suggest the addict do and how you'll present this information to them.

You'll also want to check out this helpful post for more information. It outlines the ways that substance abuse treatment works so that you can nudge the person with alcohol addiction in the right direction.

Know How to Stage an Intervention Successfully

In order to stage a successful intervention, you'll need to know some basic dos and don'ts so that your loved one doesn't feel uncomfortable and become uncooperative.

Do:

  • Understand that alcoholism usually is a symptom of underlying mental illness
  • Let your loved one know that you're there for them no matter what they may be going through
  • Discuss the fact that you care
  • Talk about the ways that your loved one's alcoholism affects those around them
  • Give the person that the intervention is for time to respond to what you say

Taking these measures will ensure that your loved one feels heard and valued. Ultimately, they're more likely to be receptive to what you have to say.

Don't:

  • Don't place blame on the addict
  • You don't want to guilt or shame them
  • Don't raise your voice at your loved one 

Doing any of these things will only serve to unintentionally humiliate them and make them feel defensive. You're less likely to make headway with a person who's in defensive mode.

While gently nudging your loved one towards professional treatment is a good idea, don't force the issue too much. You can't make someone get help- they need to be motivated to get it on their own.

More on How to Help

Knowing how to stage an intervention and putting that knowledge into action can be a challenge. However, when you see your loved one begin to turn their life around, it will be more than worth all the hard work.

Check out the 'drugs/therapy' tab on our home page for more tips on how to handle a loved one's alcoholism and encourage them to get treatment. With patience and compassion, you can help them get through these difficult times.


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