How Can You Help a Loved One Overcome Alcohol Dependence?

It is often challenging to support a loved one who is struggling with alcohol dependence. You may find it difficult to have a direct, heart-to-heart conversation about it without the conversation becoming confrontational. However, without intervention, your loved one with a drinking problem may struggle to accept it or refuse to acknowledge it. Over time, their physical and mental health can deteriorate further.

People who have alcohol dependence are often in denial about their situation. Most of them consider alcohol consumption a normal part of life. People may not be willing to seek treatment unless they face serious health consequences. During addiction, their behaviors may have had negative or even traumatizing effects on you or others. For example, harmful alcohol assumption is often related to domestic violence and abuse of children within the household.

What Does an Intervention Look Like?

An intervention should be done with intentionality and plenty of preparation. It is a deliberately planned process that may involve family and friends, in consultation with health professionals such as a licensed alcohol counselor or a professional interventionist. Before the intervention, your family and friends will meet with the health professional to determine the severity of your loved one’s alcohol dependence and the need for potential treatment. They also need to design strategies around what volatile issues might come up during the intervention.

The planning group should not reveal anything about the plan until the day of the intervention. You should gather as much information as possible. You may even want to initiate arrangements to enroll your loved one in a specific treatment program. You should also prepare yourselves emotionally in case your loved one has a strong emotional response to this intervention. A professional interventionist can coach you on how to do so in a non-confrontational and nonjudgmental way.

During the intervention, these concerned people gather to discuss with your loved one the consequences of alcohol dependence and the consideration of treatment. Choose a time that your loved one is not under the influence of alcohol and is relatively calm.

Members of the team may take turns expressing their concerns about the situation. When presenting specific examples of destructive behaviors and their impact on family and friends, try to use a calm and loving tone without becoming too emotionally intense or confrontational. You need to reiterate your love and how this love and concern are the motivation for such a direct conversation.

In consultation with a health professional, you can offer a prearranged treatment plan with clear steps, goals, and guidelines. Show support by spelling out what each person in this group will do if your loved one decides to accept treatment. As the intervention team, you will hold each other accountable and provide unconditional support.

What Should You Avoid in an Intervention?

An intervention team should include family and friends who are important and appreciated in your loved one’s life. They also need to have good standing relationships with one another and do not have unmanaged substance addiction or mental health issues themselves. The main rule of wisdom is: do not include someone who might sabotage the situation.

Holding an intervention should not occur on the spur of the moment. It may take weeks to plan an effective intervention. An intervention with a successful outcome is worth the time and waiting. A professional interventionist can also help you rehearse to minimize fumbling and potential situations that may arise during the real intervention.

Expect the process to involve intense emotions including anger, resentment, and even conflicts. Anticipate objections from your loved one, but still be prepared to answer with calmness, respect, and love. Do not show anger or judgment. Refrain from using this intervention as a platform for criticism or personal attacks. Let love guide every word you utter and every facial expression you make.

Does Treatment Work?

Alcohol dependence is treatable no matter how severe the problem may seem. Most people with this condition may benefit from some form of treatment. For example, research shows that around one-third of people who are treated for alcohol problems see improvement in a year.

Apart from the typical 28-day inpatient detoxification program, there are many other treatment options for alcohol use disorder. For example, medications are available to help people stop or reduce their drinking. Some behavioral therapies are aimed at changing drinking behavior through one-on-one counseling. Many 12-step programs provide peer support and encourage people to reduce their drinking. These methods combined can make sobriety an attainable goal.

It is challenging for concerned family and friends to witness a loved one’s addiction and deteriorating health. However, without intervention, their loved one with a drinking problem may struggle to see it or refuse to acknowledge it. People who have alcohol dependence are often in denial about their situation. Most of them consider alcohol consumption a normal part of life. People may not willing to seek treatment unless their health deteriorates significantly. During this time, their behaviors may already have had negative or even traumatizing effects on you or those around you. An intervention can motivate someone to seek help for alcohol or drug misuse, compulsive eating, or other addictive behaviors. Discover when to hold an intervention and how to make it successful. Casa Recovery has resources to help. We believe that a client’s treatment plan should be as unique as they are to maximize effectiveness and produce a successful treatment outcome. Call (888) 928-2272.

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