Alcoholism Interventions are
also known as "Short-term Planned Family Interventions" or, simply, "Interventions"
for short. The goal of an Intervention is to breakthrough the denial of an alcoholic
in such a way that he or she will become willing to accept treatment, and to
create an environment that makes it safe to do so.
What are the
Benefits of an Intervention?
are extremely powerful and moving experiences for all involved. One hopes, of
course, that the immediate result will be that the alcoholic accepts the need
for treatment, and takes immediate steps to enter treatment. But even if the
alcoholic does not agree to pursue treatment on the spot, Alcohol Interventions
are of enormous value to all involved.
1) The participants
will have had an opportunity to organize and to express their
thoughts and feelings about the situation in a way that is helpful
and clarifying for them.
2) Participants will know that they have done everything possible to
assist the alcoholic in accepting and obtaining needed treatment.
3) The alcoholic will have absorbed the emotional tone of love,
support and challenge even if he or she is too overwhelmed or foggy
to fully take in all that has been communicated. The experience will
remain with the alcoholic and may help him or her to be ready to
treatment at a later time.
What is the Process?
The process entails one
or more meetings with the significant others of an alcoholic -- without the
alcoholic present. The number of sessions required prior to the final meeting
will depend on the readiness of the participants. Just one or two meetings will
suffice in many cases. There is then a final meeting that includes the
"Significant others" usually means family members, close friends, and sometimes,
even employers. There are several criteria to consider when deciding whom to
1) The alcoholic must
have a meaningful connection with each participant, and each
participant must genuinely care about the alcoholic's welfare and
2) Each participant must have the capacity to contain
angry feelings so that he or she can speak in an empathic and
concerned manner to the alcoholic during the final meeting. The goal
is that the alcoholic not feel attacked, and not become any more
defensive and resistant than he or she is already feeling.
3) Participants should themselves be free of any substance abuse.
They should have some basic understanding of addiction, or be open
to learning some of the basics during the process.
What is the Role of the Interventionists?
The Interventionists, or facilitators, have three main objectives:
1) To create an
environment that is safe for all participants including, most
especially, the alcoholic.
2) To prepare all participants to express their thoughts, feelings
and wishes to the alcoholic in the most authentic, effective, and
emotionally powerful manner possible.
3) To evaluate what type of treatment is likely to be the most
appropriate for the alcoholic should he or she accept treatment, and
to assist the family in making arrangements for such treatment.
4) To help participants to think about appropriate consequences
should the alcoholic refuse treatment.
What Happens During
the Final Meeting?
Some people refer to the final meeting as "The Confrontation." We do not
this term because it carries connotations of aggression that are totally
inappropriate. The final meeting is an opportunity for participants to present a
mirror of reality to the alcoholic in a powerful and compelling manner. This
must be done in a way that the alcoholic feels bathed in a sea
of support and caring, yet at the same time is made to recognize that the
consequences of refusing the help that is being offered will be quite negative,
and the price high. lf, as hoped, the alcoholic agrees to accept treatment, one
or more participants will be prepared to bring him or her directly from the
Intervention to the treatment facility.