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Alcohol Intervention – Advice From Professional Interventionists

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Professional interventionists explains how interventions work, what you should do and what happens after. If you need an intervention specialist, get in contact.

Alcohol interventions


If you have a loved one who has lost their way in alcohol addiction and refuses to go off to treatment, what do you do?

You’ve probably tried to persuade them to seek help. You’ve sat with them at the kitchen table. You’ve tried pleading with them, bribing them, using every tool you know that might have some leverage over them – the kids, your marriage, their job – yet nothing you say has any effect whatsoever on their decision to quit drinking. In fact, this person that you love is now someone you hardly recognise. That person – the happy, selfless, loving, good mum or good dad that was your best friend and lover for years – has gone. Instead there’s this stranger in their place that looks like the person you cared for or loved, talks like them, dresses like them, but that’s about as far as it goes because their values, their opinions, their priorities are now almost unrecognizable. But this new person is the addict. And this addict has almost nothing in common with the person you knew and loved. This addict is a selfish, hurtful creature with mental health problems. Unwilling to listen to reason. Not if it conflicts with what they want to do, which is carry on drinking and stay in active addiction. You can try to get through to them. Try telling them they need some help not just for them, but for all of you as a family. But you’ll probably find it will fall on deaf ears.

This could be because they are scared of treatment. Or support groups. Or think treatment centers are for people with real addiction problems. Which is not them.  So you might change tack; show them a variety of treatment centers they could go to. Nice places.  Good programs.  Compassionate care.  Maybe with lots of amenities that makes the whole idea of rehab less like a rehab and more like a holiday spa. Yet still they don’t want to go.  So you offer them a home detox.  Or a visit to your GP to discuss their drinking. But they might say I don’t have a drinking problem – I just like having a drink.  Or they might tell you they’re happy as they are. You’ll argue that they will lose their family, that it upsets the kids, that their behaviour is not fair. That it’s selfish. That everybody is fed up with it.  And it’s dangerous and they could get hurt.  And they’ll say well that’s your problem, not mine.  And you’ll be shocked that this person that you thought you knew so well could say and behave and act the way they do. That their old value system of what was important, and what was right, and how you should behave, and how you should look after your responsibilities and your family and your kids will have gone and been replaced with this new value system that prioritises drink and drinking above and beyond everything else. So now you are presented with two choices. You can ask them to leave.  Or, you hire an interventionist.


What is an interventionist?


An interventionist is a professional who is hired by the family or friends or loved ones to persuade an addicted person to go into a residential treatment facility. No qualifications are required to perform an intervention. But it’s a skill and you need to be trained. Individuals can earn certifications, like the certified intervention professional (CIP). To obtain it, the interventionist must undergo extensive training and pass a rigorous examination. This is a standard for licensed professionals. Interventionists may also have degrees in mental health counselling or social work. They can specialize in various areas, such as substance use disorder, or mental illness. Or help you with staging alcohol addiction intervention.


How does a typical intervention work?


First there will be a call to explain which family member is in trouble, why, and then give details of their addiction. How long it’s been going on. The consequences. The unsafe behaviour. The effect it’s having on the whole family and what you would like to achieve from the intervention – which is to get them to agree to go into an alcohol rehab program and get well again. The interventionist will then help formulate a plan for a staged intervention. But an intervention is a highly charged event with the potential to cause much anger, resentment, and lots of emotion. And if it’s not done properly it can and will fail.

What your interventionist will suggest is putting together a team for the intervention. Could be husband, or wife, or siblings, and maybe some good family friends, but all working together and each with their own part to play. The interventionist will set a date and a location and then work with you all to present a consistent, rehearsed message to a structured plan. Often, non-family members of the team are an important addition as they can help keep the discussion focused on the facts of the problem and help avoid the strong emotional responses which will inevitably come. But you must not let your loved one know what you’re doing until the day of the intervention. If they know it’s coming, they may well decide they don’t want to participate and leave the home before the event.

Then the day arrives and it can be harrowing and frightening, because there is so much at stake.  If the intervention fails, the consequences can be enormous. It could mean the end of the family, end of the marriage, so it’s vital to hire the right interventionist and make the right preparations to give you the maximum chance of success. Generally if the intervention is done properly, the percentage numbers for success are good – over 80% success rate.

But you must also decide on some specific consequences if your loved one does not and will not accept the treatment option. What actions are you prepared to take? Are you prepared to ask them to move out of the family home? Ask for a divorce? It all gets very hard to do and say and can and will cause lots of tears.

The interventionist will also ask you to make notes on what you should say. Each team member will be asked to describe specific incidents where the addiction has caused problems, such as emotional or financial issues. Or how it has and is affecting the kids. Their school. Their friends. Your friends. Discuss the toll of your loved one’s behaviour while still expressing care and the expectation that they can change and this can be fixed and normal life can resume – but only if they agree to go to alcohol rehab.

Hold the intervention meeting. Without revealing the reason, your loved one with the addiction is asked to the intervention site. Might be in your house. In your kitchen. Members of the team then take turns expressing their concerns and feelings. Your loved one is presented with a rehab option and asked to accept that option on the spot. Each team member will say what specific changes he or she will make if your loved one doesn’t accept the plan. Don’t threaten consequences unless you’re ready to follow through with them. Hopefully you won’t have to because they will agree to go. And if they do agree, then they should leave immediately with the interventionist, who will have made prior arrangements for their admission to an alcohol rehab that has a bed and is ready to take them. Help them pack. Reassure them that this act will save the family and that they have made the right choice. It will be hard and emotional, but once they get in the car with the interventionist and head off, you will feel a huge sense of relief that finally your loved one is going off to treatment and will soon be free of alcohol and then ready to see if you can rebuild your lives together again out of addiction. But they have to stay in rehab and they have to do the 28 days and complete the program.


Follow up


It is critical that your loved one stays for the duration of the treatment program. If they were very inebriated during the intervention and during the car journey to rehab afterwards, then there is a danger that when they sober up and the new reality of finding themselves in an alcohol rehab and not at home might make them decide this is not where they want to be and check out and try and go home. That is their right and nobody can keep them at a rehab. If they want to leave, they can. But this cannot be allowed to happen. It is critical that they stay in treatment, finish the program, learn the tools to live a life in recovery and avoid relapsing.

A successful intervention must be planned carefully to work as intended. A poorly planned intervention can worsen the situation. Choosing the right interventionist can mean the difference between doing an intervention once. Or several times.

If you’re looking for a professional drug and alcohol intervention specialist to help you stage a drug or alcohol intervention, we can help, get in contact.

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