Alcoholism does not just affect the people who have it. The children and spouses of alcoholics suffer, too, because they often encounter disruptive behaviors, have unhealthy dynamics in the home, and worry about their loved ones. A family alcohol intervention can be the first step to recovery for all involved. If you are concerned about a family member’s alcoholism, please call us for support and assistance with beginning an intervention.
The Purpose of a Family Intervention
An intervention gives everyone in the family the opportunity to express their concerns and the problems they experience because of the person’s alcoholism. The primary goal, however, is to convince the alcoholic to seek treatment. This is not always successful on the first try, but if nothing else, the intervention plants the idea in the person’s mind. It can also initiate changes in the way the family deals with the person’s alcoholism.
Preparing for an Intervention
In most cases, the preparations for an intervention should be made quietly and privately so the person with alcoholism does not know about it ahead of time. With prior notice, an alcoholic may simply refuse to show up. People with addictions often have difficulties admitting a problem, and their dependencies make them feel the need to rationalize their habits and behaviors. Even when a substance causes problems for a person, his or her physical or psychological reliance on it can take priority.
In an intervention, it is critical that people approach the person with love and genuine care. Some people may be tempted to yell at the alcoholic or insult him or her for his or her choices or behaviors. While honesty is encouraged, negativity aimed at the person can be counterproductive. People should speak for themselves and the problems they experience. For example, an alcoholic’s husband could talk about how worried he gets late at night when he’s not sure if his wife is still at the bar or if she was hurt on the way home.
Everyone involved in an intervention should prepare ahead of time. A helpful method for this is to have everyone write a letter to read aloud in the meeting. Having an addiction professional’s help with the preparations and the intervention itself may increase the chances of success.
Family Alcoholism Intervention for Adolescents
An intervention can also be used to help stop a problem before it starts. Children and teenagers can be discouraged from drinking or experimenting with alcohol when their families get together to discuss the dangers of it. This is also an opportunity to teach healthy methods for managing stress and dealing with peer pressure.
If the adolescents have already started drinking, a standard intervention can be used to help the teenagers understand that their families care about them, want the best for them, and will do all they can to help them overcome any problems they are having. Professional counseling can help them manage problems that contribute to substance abuse.
Treatment arrangements should be made in advance of a family alcoholism intervention. If patients agree to enter treatment, they are less likely to change their minds if they do not have time to think prior to their entry.Families can coordinate their efforts with an inpatient rehab clinic or an outpatient counseling center.
Family members should also consider seeking help for themselves, regardless of whether the alcoholic agrees to get help. Counseling and support groups such as Al-Anon provide people with a place to vent their frustrations, and they can help people learn new ways of managing the problem. People who are in relationships with alcoholics may also benefit from help for codependency.
If you need help with any aspect of a family alcohol intervention, please call us. This 24/7 hotline can refer you to qualified treatment centers in your area, and the call is free.