Intervention for Alcoholism

Most families need a professional to plan and carry out an intervention. Learn about the steps here…and why a professional can increase your chances for success. A complete guide on how to stage an intervention for alcoholism.

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ARTICLE OVERVIEW: An alcohol intervention is when a group confronts a loved one about problem drinking. In this article, we cover the basic aspects of an alcohol intervention, plus we offer tips on how to plan the whole process. Your questions are welcomed at the end.



 Interventions aim to change behavior.

What is an Alcohol Intervention?

Interventions are combination of strategies designed to produce behavior changes to improve an individual’s health. Interventions can take place in different settings such as worksites, schools, home, faith-based organizations, or health care facilities.Interventions that include multiple strategies are typically the most effective in producing the required change. [1]

An alcohol intervention is the process of asking a loved one with a drinking problem to go to rehab. Interventions can be informal or formal. Informal interventions occur in the moment, and can be a simple discussion. A formal intervention is when a group of people confront the person in an effort to convince them to seek help for their alcoholism.

An intervention for alcoholism has three main goals:

1. To change the beliefs, attitudes, skills, and knowledge of the person.
2. To increase social support and cooperation.
3. To get the person into rehab.

An intervention is most successful when led by a professional.

Do Alcohol Interventions Work?


Most people diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder don’t see that they have a problem. In fact, they are in denial, and don’t want to see reality as it is.

But, you can help a loved one break through denial by staging an intervention. You may have only one chance to stage the intervention, and the best way to do it is with a help of intervention specialist.

An interventionist is a professional who is trained in staging interventions. Their job is to help friends and family to create a plan. They are there to carry out the alcohol intervention. The best thing is that an interventionist will consider all potential issues that may arise. Their experience is truly valuable.

Asking for help from a specialized interventionist is highly recommended if the person who is dealing with drinking problems has other serious condition including:

  • Mental health issues such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia
  • Polydrug use
  • Suicidal attempts
  • Violent behavior

Interventions get people into treatment.

The Intervention for Alcoholism Process

Staging and planning an alcohol intervention is a long process. It can take a lot of time and energy for family and friends to prepare for the whole process. And if you want to do it right, plan to spend days to weeks with a professional getting ready for the big day. There are many types of intervention, but most of them follow these basic steps:

STEP 1: Meet with an intervention specialist.

Asking help from an interventionist can be the crucial step for the family. Licensed or certified professionals are experienced in choosing the right words and providing the right environment for change. They can help the family in understanding alcoholism as a disease, and offer the best approach to each specific case.

STEP 2: Chose the right time and place for the intervention.

An intervention can be set up in any place that provides privacy. This may be a neutral place like a rented space, an interventionist’s office, school, worksite, or even the alcoholic’s home. The important thing is that the loved one should not feel defensive or ambushed. You’ll need to invite the loved one to join the group meeting and be clear about what it’s about. This is called an “invitational intervention”.

STEP 3: Plan ahead what will be said during the intervention.

This is the most important step for a successful alcohol intervention. Each member should decide in advance what they will say. With the help of an interventionist, the group should gather information about the loved one’s drinking and their behavior when under the influence. Moreover, you’ll need to include situations when the alcoholic had outburst due to their drinking, as well as state how their drinking affects you. It is helpful to write down everything you wish to say, although sometimes, you can just speak from your heart.

STEP 4: Carry out the intervention.

This is when professional guidance is key. Once the individual is there, the interventionist will ask them to sit and listen to what is being said. Then, each member of the group will say or read the reasons why they believe that the individual have a drinking problem, and why they need treatment. Usually, the intervention ends with the group giving the individual option to choose either enroll into treatment and quit drinking or face consequences, such as cutting out financial or emotional support.

The group also commits to their own health and well-being, as alcoholism is a family disease. A successful intervention has the potential to transform not just the person with a drinking problem, but an entire family. [2]Group members can seek help through talk therapy, self-care, and ongoing counseling.

STEP 5: Follow up an intervention.

After the intervention, the individual has a choice to make either quit drinking or face the consequences. The interventionist provides information about the treatment options and explains them to the alcoholic. In some cases, the specialist has already arranged an assessment in a suitable treatment center. No matter what is the outcome, the group must follow through their final decisions.

Call us to learn how we do interventions.

How to Stage an Alcoholism Intervention

It can be hard to approach someone who deals with alcohol problems. Despite the fact that family and friends mean well, they may not know what to say or how to express themselves. In order to get through to a loved one, you need to make them see the problem. So, for a successful intervention, you need to plan every step ahead.

Here are some useful suggestions to take into consideration when planning an alcohol intervention for your loved one. Remember that staging an intervention is the most important step. Careful planning and risk management can lead to success.

Find a licensed interventionist.

An intervention professional will know what to do in difficult situations. S/He will keep a“neutral zone” between the parties. A licensed professional can help the alcoholic break the wall of denial, and help them the best rehab option for them.

Form a good, stable intervention group.

Choose members wisely. Many people may want to help, but not everyone is helpful. Avoid inviting group members who are negative or overly dramatic. Not everyone has the ability to persuade someone that they have a drinking problem. Once you form the dream team, the group works with the interventionist to create a strategy.


One critical part of an intervention is to educate the group about addiction and recovery. Being familiar with the topic provides insights of the problem that can play a huge role in convincing someone that they need help.

Mind your language.

Talk from the heart. Keep in mind that their trust in you is important, and it needs be felt through the whole intervention. By talking personally without judgment will make the intervention process flow easily. Moreover, be open with your feelings, and see how they resonate with you.

Rehearse and prepare.

The members of the group must rehearse for the intervention. Every speech should be prepared and rehearsed many times with the help of the specialist. Setting the right tone and describing situations of past hurt may trigger moment of clarity to the addicted person and see their problems.

Be prepared for the worst.

Keep in mind that some interventions don’t go as planned. You cannot predict how your loved one will act. A professional interventionist is there to keep the peace between the parties, and make the most positive outcome of the intervention. However, the person who is dealing with drinking problems may react aggressively and endanger the group. In that case, call 911 immediately.

A successful intervention can change an entire family.

Planning for Objections

When you plan an intervention you need also to plan for objections. Identify in advance the objections to treatment that your loved one may raise. These objections will be answered during the intervention by the person who will lead the intervention. Every objection need to have a reasonable and workable response. The group needs to have prepared answers and plans in advance.Here are some examples of objections and their counters:

OBJECTION: I can’t go to rehab. Who’s going to take care of my pet?

RESPONSE: [NAME] has agreed to take your pet and look after them while you are away.

OBJECTION: I can’t enroll into a program. Who’s going to take care of my home?

RESPONSE: Your best friend has a key from your apartment, and s/he will come every 3-4 days to care for the home while you are away.

OBJECTION: I can’t go into treatment. I have a job. I don’t want to lose my job.

RESPONSE: You won’t lose your job. The Americans with Disabilities Act protects you to maintain your working status when you seek medical help. [3] The law is clear that you have legal right to ask for accommodations when entering rehab.

OBJECTION: I will be bored there. Rehab is not an option for me.

RESPONSE: Rehab treatment has many program to offer you in order not to be bored, but to focus on building yourself and work on your recovery. Some of them offer [SERVICES].

Are you ready for an intervention? Call us today.

Planning for Consequences

A professional interventionist will help you determine which person has the most influence on the loved one who has leverage. When you have leverage, you have the power to precipitate actual consequences. Here are some examples of leverage that can be used in the right way and that will have consequences on the alcoholic’s life.

1. The employer: “We respect you and value as an employee, but your drinking has caused you to miss 10 days of work in the last few months. We will do everything to help you, including helping you to access treatment because we have Employee Assistance Program. But, we cannot keep you as an employee if you miss work so often.”

2. A spouse: “I love you, and I care about you, but I cannot raise our children in an alcoholic household. Our children are afraid from you when you come home late and drunk. If you don’t go into treatment, I’m going to have put the well-being of our children first, and start looking at other options, including divorce.”

3. A parent: “The car you are driving is on my name. I don’t want to put your life in danger as well as of the lives of others because you are drunk driving. If you don’t go to rehab, I am taking the car today.”

Environment matters.

Alcohol Intervention at Home

The place where the intervention will occur is important. Privacy and safety are first. The loved one needs to feel safe, because if they are concerned or uncomfortable, the intervention may turn negative. The loved one may become agitated, and lose their temper. For example, never ambush a person in a public spot to intervene about drinking issues.

For many people, the safest place an intervention can occur is at home. A cozy atmosphere increases security and safeness for every member of the intervention. However, some cases require a more neutral place like a rented space or a clinician’s office. This is true when triggers are in the home or when guns are present. Call us to learn more about safety precautions and how we manage environment for successful outcome.

Why wait longer? Call today for a free and confidential consultation.

Unique Attributes of an Alcoholic Intervention

1 in 3 families is affected by addiction problems in the U.S. Alcohol is #1 on the list. 56% of Americans aged 18 and older are currently alcohol consumers, while 1 in 18 people have a drinking problem. [4]

Still, it may be hard to reach someone and convince them that they have a drinking problem. Alcohol abuse changes the way a person thinks and sees life. Alcohol affect the way we process information…and if a person has become alcohol-dependent, their logic changes, too.

Some people may get angry because an intervention may seem to be an ambush. However, if the intervention is planned appropriately and done correctly, the anger will calm down quickly. Even if the anger continues, a professional interventionist will keep the tone calm and neutral.

Keep in mind that the intervention is not about you. The intervention is about your loved one, and the main point is getting them help and supporting them through this hard time.

Get your loved one into treatment!

The Best Intervention for Alcoholism

There are many different types of interventions, but the best intervention for dealing with individual with is a customized intervention that will fit that individual’s needs. Below is a list of the most common types of clinical interventions used for drinking problems.


An ARISE intervention is a relatively new system of intervention that involves the whole family but it’s less confrontational than a surprise model for intervention. The loved one is invited to the intervention and a set of clear steps then follow.

Brief Intervention

This intervention process is conducted as a one-on-one meeting between a medical professional/counselor and a person dealing with alcohol abuse. Usually, brief interventions take place in hospitals after the person has been admitted for an injure or overdose due to their substance use, or in schools if a student is suspected of drinking, or in a doctor’s office after an examination reveals health issues. Moreover, friends and family may ask professional to perform a brief intervention for their loved one.

Crisis Intervention

This type of intervention involves police officers providing social and medical resources to people who are abusing substances, suffer from a mental health disorder, or have dual diagnosis. A crisis intervention can lead to a public record with your state’s department of children and families, health, or social services.

Family Systemic Intervention

This model is focused on both the individual and their family. Having on mind that addiction affects every member of the family, this type of intervention intents the whole family to reach out for help in any form of therapy.


The main goal of this type of intervention is to set clear, measurable, and achievable goals for the intervention. This intervention can be applied as a part of follow-up in a family based intervention.

The Johnson Model

The most well-known form of intervention, the Johnson Model is designed to convince people dealing with alcoholism to enroll into a rehab program. The problem with this model is that it is a “surprise”.

What’s your backup plan?

When Alcohol Intervention Fails

Be prepared that your loved one may not accept treatment. You cannot help someone who doesn’t want help. You cannot make them change. In this hard case scenario, it is important to stick with your planned intervention.

Then, be patient.

Some interventions take time and do-overs. How long will it take? Until the alcoholic realizes the negative consequences of their drinking and seek treatment. In the meantime, you need to take care of yourself.

Call us for guidance on interventions. We know addiction.

Get Help from a Professional Interventionist

If you want your intervention to succeed, plan it with professional help from a licensed
interventionist. Call us to learn about how we’ve helped hundreds of families over many decades of experience.

Moreover, every interventionist no matter the model they are using, they will guide the intervention with the 7 important principles that any intervention for alcohol use disorder should follow:

1. Meet with a certified interventionist.
2. Plan in advance.
3. Choose the right people to take part.
4. Choose the right time for the intervention.
5. Speak with respect and love, but never with anger.
6. Follow through.
7. Take care of yourself.

Finally, there are several ways you can find certified interventionists:

  • Call us on the helpline displayed on our website.
  • Contact a community, religious, or spiritual leader for recommendations.
  • Get a referral from a doctor or therapist.
  • Speak with a social worker.
  • Search online on:

Independent Interventionists
Association of Intervention Specialists

Don’t lose hope!

Alcoholism is a treatable disease, and you can help your loved one change their mind about treatment. You only need help from the professionals.

If you have any questions, post them in the comments section at the end. We try to respond personally and promptly to all legitimate queries.

Call today. Treatment saves lives.

Reference Sources: [1] Intervention
[2] The Definitive Guide To Addiction Interventions
[3] U.S. Department of Labor: Americans with Disabilities Act
[4] SAMHSA: The National Survey on Drug Use and Health 2015
NCBI: Interventions with alcoholics and their families
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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