When a loved one falls privy to alcoholism, tension among family members is heightened. Concerns soar and conflict often ensues.
When an alcoholic is ready to seek treatment, family members and loved ones are relieved to hear of the decision to move forward. However, many cases of alcoholism continue without interruption.
is one of the only diseases in which the afflicted individual is plagued by denial of the fact that the disease exists within. Denial is a byproduct of active alcoholism and fuels the self-destructive behavior.
Alcoholism is insidious in its capacity to keep victims in a state of denial. Herein lies the benefit of an intervention. A preplanned staged forum where family members approach the alcoholic with a “bottom line” verdict in a loving, non-confrontational way can serve as the light at the end of a dark tunnel.
How Should One Begin Planning?
It is strongly recommended that family members and loved ones hire an interventionist to assist in planning, executing and following up on the intervention.
Interventionists have years of experience in the field of addiction and alcoholism. Their education, expertise and personal experiences with alcoholism make them prime candidates in terms of providing intervention assistance.
The dynamic – between an alcoholic and his or her loved ones – has the potential to become riddled with coercion, deceit, distrust and false promises as a byproduct of the disease. Loved ones want to help the alcoholic; in some cases, they enable the alcoholic’s self-destructive behavior but are unable to understand the nature of the enabling as they are blinded by unconditional love for the alcoholic. Interventionists are unbiased, professional parties who can facilitate effective communication between family members and the alcoholic, pointing out instances of codependency, coercion, and manipulation – thus improving the family dynamic over time.
Where Should it Take Place?
An intervention should take place in a warm room in which all participating loved ones, the addict and the interventionist can sit harmoniously. Positioning the seating arrangements around a coffee table or other central piece of furniture creates a sensation of unity within the room. A seat should be saved for the alcoholic in the center of the room, in between loved ones on a couch is preferred. This provides the alcoholic with a sense of comfort, love, and support.
What Does it Involve?
The alcoholic enters the room under pretenses that he or she is required to be present for an interview or other event. Upon entering the room, alcoholics may withdraw, express anger or break down in sadness. Regardless of the reaction, family members are encouraged to remain as non-reactionary as possible. Harping on the alcoholic’s responses will breed contempt. All involved parties should be careful not to express anger or respond to the alcoholic’s manipulative ways if they surface. Otherwise, the alcoholic may focus on one or more expressions of feelings that are perceived as hurtful or unfair, and lose focus of the intervention’s purpose.
The intervention begins immediately; the alcoholic is read letters from family members and loved ones about how alcoholism has affected their lives. During the days and weeks leading up to the intervention, family members have been preparing their letters. The letters are heartfelt, raw and real accounts of how alcoholism has directly impacted the lives of those closest to the alcoholic.
Upon hearing about the magnitude of the wreckage the alcoholic has unintentionally caused, a moment of clarity is created.
For many alcoholics, the intervention’s message penetrates a thick wall of denial and self-doubt that has been built over a long period of time. Consequences of refusing to seek treatment are laid out in explicit detail. Previous patterns of enabling behavior are no longer acceptable. The family members have agreed to support each other in their quest to stop enabling the alcoholic, whether this involves no future bailouts from jail, no more monetary support and no future bill paying. In an intervention, the ultimate goal is to motivate the alcoholic in such a way that treatment is the only reasonable outcome.
What Happens After?
Following the intervention, it is imperative that all involved parties follow through with the terms of the intervention. They have to agree upon a course of action in the event that the alcoholic refuses to seek treatment. Most of the time, an alcoholism detox will begin that day.
Transportation from the intervention to the addiction treatment center is provided. Logistics must be planned out before the start of the intervention. This precludes gaps in planning from throwing a snag in the fluidity of the process – the intervention occurs, the alcoholic accepts the offer for treatment and off to the airport the alcoholic goes.
It is recommended the interventionist or family member close to the alcoholic accompanies the addict to treatment.