What is an Alcohol Intervention?
An alcohol intervention is a program designed to help a loved one make changes to their life in order to stop their addiction.
This usually happens by a group of people closest to the addict. Everyone is able to speak openly about how the addiction has affected their lives. It also usually involves a mediator who makes sure that the group stays on topic and emotions don’t get out of control.
During the intervention, the family members propose a treatment plan if their loved one agrees to get help.
Do Alcohol Interventions Work?
Yes! Many foundations, such as the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation believe very strongly in interventions saying “the power of an addiction intervention comes from having participants express concern and compassion for the alcoholic’s welcare…”(How to Do an Intervention). Many addicts are able to face their problem because their loved ones held an intervention for them.
Is it Time for an Intervention?
These are some of the signs that can be seen in people who suffer from alcohol addiction. Keep in mind that these are not all the signs nor does one sign signify a substance use disorder. (Four Signs That it is Time to Stage an Alcohol Intervention, 10 Tell-Tale Signs Someone Needs an Addiction Intervention).
Changes in appearance
Appearance is the last thing on an addict’s mind. If your usually clean and tidy loved one suddenly starts becoming disheveled on a daily basis, this is a sign that something isn’t right.
From responsible to “lazy”
If your loved one is normally a punctual, hard worker, but has become “lazy,” is late to work, or their grades have fallen, this may be a sign that something is wrong. An addict tends to spend all their time fixated on and spends all their money on their addiction because everything comes second to their fix. Because of this, eventually there will be very little or no money left to pay for the important things, like bills or food.
Forgetting what they did or said
The most common sign is the “roller coaster” of emotions. The person affected by the substance may start to behave irrationally and suffer from horrible mood swings. Family members may never know what side of the person they’ll get. Hazy or no recall is also a sign of serious substance abuse. If your loved one starts showing any of these symptoms, it’s time to find some help or hold an intervention.
Addiction is a ruthless illness. The person addicted may have a sense of worthlessness due to the control the substance has over their life, but they can’t stop using. They may spiral down into depression and self-loathing, and isolate themselves from everyone. They stop attending social events and become difficult to reach or find, even for close family members.
The more a person drinks or does drugs, the higher their tolerance gets. It takes more and more of the substance to reach the same high or level of drunkenness. The more of the substance that they consume, the more they risk overdosing on it.
Addiction causes people to have less regard for safety, both for themselves and for others. Drunk driving is one example of this. Drinking should never get to the point where a person is putting themselves or other people in danger.
Informal talks don’t work
You have tried to breach the topic of your loved one’s drinking but they have shut it down every time with excuses. If they can’t admit they have a problem during an informal talk, it’s time for a formal intervention with a serious plan.
Health changes related to alcohol are major concerns. If your loved one has had major changes in their health or has received abnormal test results that are related to their alcohol use, this needs to be taken as a flashing red warning sign. An intervention needs to be staged.
Worsening mental health problems
Mental health problems that were mild are much worse, such as depression. Alcohol and drugs are depressants and are often used as self-medicating substances, meaning many people take them to help in place of pills thinking they will help when in reality they worsen underlying health problems.
How do I Perform an Alcohol Intervention?
When performing an intervention, it is important to understand that your loved one most likely feels ashamed and guilty about what they have done. They need your support and guidance more than anything.
During an intervention, your purpose is to show your loved one how the addiction has caused issues and a way to help them stop.
Preparing for the intervention is key. It’s very important that all aspects are played out beforehand so it can run smoothly. A serious thing to consider is consulting with a counselor or interventionist.
This is an extremely emotional and difficult time for all those involved, and they help mediate and keep everyone calm. Other things to consider may be holding the intervention in a neutral area and timing it when your loved one is least likely to be stressed and drinking.
Gathering a Team
Make sure that the team knows the extent of your loved one’s problem. Research the condition and treatment programs, and perhaps even arrange for your loved one to be enrolled in a specific program.
These people are important because they need to be close to you and your loved one but still be rational. They may be family members, close friends, members of your church, or in some cases colleagues.
Preparing the Team
Make sure that the team is fully organized before the meeting takes place. Ensure that everyone knows what they want to say. The HBF Foundation recommends writing a letter to your loved one. Specifics are very good to have, such as emotional or financial issues that were caused by the addiction.
Be as clear and straightforward as possible.
If your loved one refuses to accept treatment, each person in the intervention team needs to decide what actions they will take. Consequences are helpful because they show how serious this intervention is. It also shows how much the addiction has affected everyone. It’s very important that everyone connected to your loved one is willing and able to follow through with their choice.
Hold the Intervention
It is important that your loved one knows nothing about the meeting until the day of. Everyone should have a chance to speak and be heard, and your loved one should have the opportunity to listen and understand what everyone is saying..
If your loved one has agreed to treatment, it’s important to make the transition easy for them. Remember that substance abuse is very difficult to recover from and showing support is extremely important. Limit the things in daily life that may be stressors. Try attending a support group such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or therapy sessions.
Alcohol Intervention FAQs
What are the goals of an alcohol intervention?
Many people think that alcohol intervention is just a step into getting their loved one into treatment. However, that isn’t always the case. Although treatment is the first goal, it isn’t the sole purpose of the intervention. Interventions also:
- Educate the family about their loved one’s addiction and what is enabling the addiction;
- Remove anything in the family dynamic that is enabling the addiction to continue;
- Set boundaries within the family that will help prevent the addiction from continuing further;
- Create a team within the family so that they’re all supporting each other;
- Change the dynamic of the family so they are able to handle the recovery of their loved one effectively;
- Create a recovery plan to increase the chances of abstinence and recovery after their loved one returns from treatment;
- Learn tools to help get their loved one into treatment, help them stay in treatment, and help them adjust to recover after treatment.
What are the risks?
As with anything, there are risks with alcohol intervention. If your loved one is suffering from an alcohol addiction, chances are it won’t be given up easily. They may see the substance as a way to manage their lives and deal with the stress when in fact the substance is creating the stress. It is important for you and your team members to be aware of the risks before you perform an intervention.
- The intervention could turn very hostile and angry, which is something you want to avoid at all costs;
- Your loved one may see the intervention as you turning against them and judging them;
- Not everyone is fully committed to getting your loved one the treatment needed;
- Your loved one can’t admit that there is a problem;
- The intervention could go well and your loved one may start treatment but may not finish it.
What should I avoid during the intervention?
- Having team members who are suffering from a substance addiction themselves or don’t support your loved one;
- Planning the intervention during a time when your loved one is more likely to be stressed and therefore on their substance;
- Yelling or shaming your loved one. Remember that they are an addict — they are ashamed of themselves and need your support;
- Blaming — not making clear distinctions between your loved one and their addiction;
- Rambling– this can overwhelm your loved one.
What should I do before and during the intervention?
- Be supportive and caring, and choose team members who support your loved one;
- Understand your loved one’s addiction thoroughly so you can help as much as possible;
- Be willing and able to follow through with your consequences and do so if needed;
- Write down what you want to say to your loved one before the intervention;
- Come up with a treatment plan for your loved one with your team members.
What if my loved one refuses help or treatment?
Make sure your loved one understands that you are serious about the consequences you have decided on. Unfortunately, some refuse even then and it’s up to each individual team member to decide whether to live with the addiction or not. Treatment works best if everyone is 100% committed to the process.
What does a professional alcohol intervention cost?
If you’re planning on doing an intervention for your loved one, it’s a good idea to consult with a professional. They can be a psychologist, therapist, alcohol and addictions counselor, or interventionist. If you are in need of an expert for your intervention, which is highly recommended, it will cost. Professional interventions can start from $1,00 and rise up to $18,000 depending on where you live and who you hire. You may also be able to get financing options or get sliding fees.
You may gasp at the amount of money, but you’re not paying for a person to sit and listen. You’re paying for someone to walk you and your loved one through an emotionally difficult time: talking out consequences and the difficulties of living with an addiction; discussing all of the stressors that aid in the addiction; planning ways to fix those stressors; finding a treatment plan that works best; and getting through the treatment and to rehabilitation. At the end of the day, these experts know what they are doing and they can help – they have been trained and tested, and have dedicated their lives to helping people like your loved one.
What happens on intervention day?
Meet everyone in a neutral area where there is little chance of hostility or chance of upset. Your loved one will listen as everyone speaks about how the addiction has affected their lives. If you have a mediator (therapist, counselor, interventionist, etc.), they will help with these interactions and the delivery of the consequences if your loved one doesn’t accept help. After everyone has spoken and your loved one has accepted help, the treatment plan will be presented.
Will the intervention be enough?
Many times intervention is all that is needed. However, an intervention is a longer process than what many people believe. Treatment centers have found that interventions aren’t the hard part — it’s sticking with the treatment. Making it through the treatment is going to be very difficult for your loved one, but with a great support system and encouragement their lives, and yours, can be changed.
What happens after the intervention?
During the planning process, before you hold the intervention, make sure you sit down with your team members and make a treatment plan. This treatment plan will be brought up during the intervention and if your loved one accepts the help, then it’s time to put it into action.
How can I help ensure a successful intervention?
Remember that addiction is a serious issue that needs to be treated like other illnesses. It doesn’t help to berate or judge your loved one for their bad decisions at this point. Be patient and supporting. Make sure that your loved one understands that you’re doing this because you care about them and yourself.
Alcohol Intervention Services
Professional and certified intervention services
There are many options when you’re first looking for a mediator for your intervention. A substance abuse therapist or psychologist can help you in your situation. They have the correct licensing and certifications, extensive training, knowledge, and experience on the topic.
You can also look for an interventionist. If you decide to go this route, look at the Association of Intervention Specialists (AIS). This board offers certified interventionists for those looking for support in their area. You can also find them in support groups and online through help-lines.
In reality, interventionist services are extremely expensive, costing anywhere from $1,000 to $18,000. And most insurance does not cover it. The only time you’ll hear of insurance covering an intervention is if a treatment center offers to hold an intervention with no extra cost to you. This typically means that they looked at your insurance and decided it was a good deal to offer you a free intervention.
Be very wary of interventionists who offer you a cheap offer or a “deal”. They may try to pull fees out of nowhere that were not mentioned beforehand, such as an extra fee for helping your loved one get into a treatment program, and another one for transporting them to the program itself.
However, don’t give up hope! There are alternatives to both the expensive and cheap options. There are 24/7 free helplines where interventionists are available for you should you need anything. The only downside to this is they can’t be present during the physical intervention. Interventions with a professional may cost a lot of money, but given their expertise and knowledge, they can certainly help your loved one get back on track and make the changes necessary to live a happy life.
Final Thoughts & Considerations about Alcohol Addiction and Intervention
Interventions are very important to the recovery of people who suffer from alcohol addiction. Those who go through with interventions definitely deal with a great amount of stress in their lives, but they most likely have considered all other possible options. Professional interventions are the most advisable. Even though they can be very expensive, the knowledge and expertise that is given to you and your loved one for the sake of treatment is worth the money. Many people who suffer from alcohol addiction have gone through interventions and have recovered very well.
Other Types of Interventions
Listed below are some other types of interventions. Note that there are many types of interventions other than those listed here. Please research these different types of interventions in case you or anyone you may need the information. You never know who may be suffering.
- Alcohol Abuse Intervention
- Autistic Intervention
- Batterer Intervention
- Behavior Intervention
- Bystander Intervention
- Codependency Intervention
- Counseling Intervention
- Crisis Intervention
- Domestic Violence Intervention
- Drug Intervention
- Early Intervention
- Eating Disorder Intervention
- Executive Intervention
- Extreme Intervention
- Family Intervention
- Gang Intervention
- Interventions for Depression
- Mental Health Intervention
- PositivePsychology Intervention
- Pre-trial Intervention
- PTSD Intervention
- Public Health Intervention
- Self Injury Intervention
- Sex Addiction Intervention
- Sex Trafficking Intervention
- Social Work Intervention
- Suicide Intervention
- Substance Abuse Intervention
- Teen Intervention
- Therapeutic Intervention
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How Much Does a Drug and/or Alcohol Intervention Cost? AddictionCampuses. 2020.
Jurgents, J., Theresa Parisi. Intervention for Alcoholism. AddictionCenter. 2019.
Juergens, J., David Hampton. When Do I Need to Hold an Intervention? AddictionCenter. (2020)
10 Tell-Tale Signs Someone Needs an Addiction Intervention. Addiction Intervention. 2020.
Galbicsek, Carol. How to Stage an Alcohol Intervention. Alcohol Rehab Guide. 2020.
How to Do an Intervention. Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. 2020.
Alcohol Intervention. Heartland Recovery Center. 2020.
Alcohol Intervention Guide. Intervention911. 2013.
Loverde, Mike. Are Interventions Covered by Insurance | How Much Do They Cost. Intervention Helpline. 2018.
Hardey, Sarah, et al. How to Help an Alcoholic | Alcohol Addiction Intervention. Intervention Helpline. 2020.
Intervention: Help a loved one overcome addiction. Mayo Clinic. 2017.
Four Signs That it is Time to Stage an Alcohol Intervention. Michael’s House Treatment Center. 2020.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Alcohol Facts and Statistics. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. 2020.
Young, J., M.D. Drug and Alcohol Interventions: Do They Work? Psychology Today. 2014.
Hartney, E., BSc., MSc., MA, PhD. What Is an Intervention? Verywell mind. 2020.