Alcohol is responsible for one in every 20 deaths in the world every year, making it one of the most lethal preventable causes of death. If you fear that a friend or loved one may have trouble with alcohol addiction, your early intervention could save that person’s life. Talking about an alcohol problem is never easy, and broaching the subject with somebody who may react badly can feel intimidating. The information below can guide you in helping somebody you care about get through alcohol or drug addiction.
What is an Intervention?
An alcohol or drug intervention represents a chance for friends and loved ones to make their concerns known to a person suffering from addiction to alcohol or drugs. An intervention usually involves a group of people sitting down with the person suffering from addiction and explaining how alcoholism or drug abuse has harmed them and the detrimental impact it has had on the person. An intervention does not require friends and loved ones to act alone, however. Often, a healthcare professional or addiction counselor can help facilitate the intervention and keep the discussion pointed at solving the problem. This helps to make sure that everybody stays on topic and aims the intervention at helping rather than blaming.
When Does Somebody Need Alcohol Intervention?
Part of the problem with alcoholism is the fact that many people can’t identify the difference between enjoying a drink and having a problem with alcohol. Additionally, many alcoholics hide their behavior even from their friends and family, making it difficult to determine when alcohol intervention should occur. The following items are signs of a drinking problem. If you notice any of these things, consider alcohol intervention as an appropriate next step:
- Loss of interest in activities the person once enjoyed
- Taking steps to hide drinking habits from friends and family
- Keeping “stashes” of alcohol in unusual places
- Making drinking a priority over responsibilities such as a job or a family
- Extreme mood swings
- Frequent excuses to justify drinking habits
- Irritability and abusive behavior
What is Early Intervention?
You can stage an intervention before alcohol or drugs become a problem for a person. Many areas have an early intervention program that allow you to identify the warning signs of addiction and alcohol abuse before they become a long-term problem. In these cases, just a few of the above warning signs might tip you off that alcohol is becoming a problem in a person’s life. For early interventions, it helps to consult with a counselor or healthcare professional for guidance. Doing so can remove any doubts you have about your course of action. During the intervention itself, professional guidance can also help to avoid lingering hard feelings or a sense that one party is making unfair accusations of another.
What are Intervention Methods?
Intervention for addiction and substance abuse has been a solution for generations, and many different models have arisen over the course of that time. The most recognized and successful models for intervention include the following.
The Johnson Model is the classic intervention technique, in which a team leader works with a person’s social network to present an array of family members and loved ones who want to help the individual struggling with addiction. This model is very care-focused, with emphasis placed on family members helping the individual without being hurtful toward them.
Invitational Intervention is less confrontational than the Johnson Model and relies on an intervention network of multiple people rather than one team leader. This model begins with a trained interventionist coaching others on the creation of the intervention network, through which the individual struggling with addiction or abuse gets support until they agree to enter treatment.
Family Systemic Intervention resembles Invitational Intervention but functions on a larger scale. This method works for entire families who are struggling with the effects of substance abuse or addiction. Not everybody needs to have alcohol or drug problems in this model—it is simply important to highlight how the harmful substances have affected the family or social unit.
How to Get Help with Problematic Substance Use
If you believe that a friend or loved one is struggling with alcohol abuse or drug addiction, you should seek out the help of an experienced professional if possible. Many areas have addiction helplines and counseling centers targeted specifically at advising and guiding an intervention. If you don’t have access to a helpline or don’t feel comfortable calling one, talk to a substance abuse counselor in your area. If you feel completely lost, speak with others in the person’s social circle to gather support for an intervention. Your combined resources can help you find avenues for additional help.
Staging an Intervention for an Alcoholic
When you stage an intervention for an alcoholic, you should make sure to avoid placing blame or making accusatory statements. The key is to illustrate the effect that alcohol abuse has on friends and loved ones, not to make the individual feel targeted or threatened. If the target of the intervention starts to object, take the time to hear those concerns but remain firm. Don’t expect an immediate transformation—an initial intervention should get the subject to hear and understand your concerns but may not go much farther than that. In an ideal case, the person enters treatment for the problem, but sometimes just voicing concerns on the matter is enough to qualify as a good start.
Intervention for Addiction
Intervention for addiction works in much the same way as intervention for alcohol abuse, but may have extra complications if the person is abusing illegal drugs or acquiring controlled substances in an illicit manner. In this case, you can bring up the legal ramifications of the person’s actions but you should make sure not to word such statements as threats. If the subject of an intervention feels that you might call the authorities, they are more likely to feel threatened and shut down rather than listen to what you have to say.
What is the Success Rate of Intervention?
The success of an intervention is difficult to measure, and this has led to a lot of contradictory statistics about the process. Without the guidance of a professional to organize and mediate an intervention, success varies drastically from case to case. In the United States, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence reports a success rate of approximately 90% if an intervention has a professional on hand. The threshold for success in this report is that the individual agrees to seek treatment for the problem.
With professional guidance, an intervention is an excellent way to air concerns about a person’s reliance of alcohol or drugs. If you feel that somebody you care about may be suffering under the burden of addiction, you should reach out to a professional for guidance as soon as possible.