Friends and family of someone abusing alcohol may feel hopeless when the individual is caught in the cycle of addiction. The family members might feel compelled to approach the individual and talk about how their alcohol abuse affects everyone around them. 

When looking at a person’s actions with a substance use disorder, it’s clear their actions are self-destructive and problematic. However, the person struggling might see their actions as typical and don’t cause issues. The difference between the viewpoint of outsiders and the person with an alcohol use disorder often results in resentment, frustration, and confusion on both sides. 

When a person’s alcohol abuse affects others around them, family members and friends shouldn’t sit idly as the person self-destructs. Fortunately, you can approach them about their behavior and get them to do something. The best way to approach a person about their alcohol use is to organize an intervention. 

Intervention for Alcohol Abuse

The current definition of intervention refers to an organized and structured attempt by family or friends of an individual with a substance use disorder to point out the destructive and dysfunctional aspects of their behavior and convince them to get into treatment.

Since most people with alcohol use disorders cannot view their behavior objectively, using an alcohol abuse intervention will allow them to be exposed to various points of view with regards to their alcohol abuse. 

An intervention’s success lies in the participants’ ability to appeal to the individual’s bonds with close friends and family members. It will get them to look outside their own selfish motives and look at their behaviors how others view them.

Since there is power in numbers, an intervention works by removing a person with an alcohol use disorder from their own subjective viewpoint. It allows family and friends to address their issues and implement consequences if they continue to abuse alcohol and not get help.


What Not to Do at an Alcohol Abuse Intervention

One way to reduce the effectiveness of an alcohol abuse intervention is to approach it in a way that automatically increases the defensiveness and resistance of the person with an alcohol use disorder. There are specific things you must avoid when considering an intervention, and these include:

  • By performing an intervention without preparation or planning, unless it’s an emergency situation
  • Using the intervention to express frustration or anger at the individual with the alcohol use disorder
  • Making weak consequences
  • Expecting the individual to be amenable and agreeable to all suggestions the group offers
  • Looking at the intervention as a method to for the individual into treatment against their wishes
  • Looking at the intervention as a last resort by family members and friends of the individual to help them,” since multiple interventions are needed before the person goes to treatment


How Will the Alcohol Abuse Intervention Work?

There are various ways to approach substance abuse interventions. Some commonalities can be applied to different models. The models will begin with planning sessions, rehearsals, performing the intervention, then following up on the outcomes. An intervention can be performed without the help of a professional. However, this is not advisable since they can extinguish anything that may happen out of the ordinary. 

The following outline that models most interventions is provided below:

  • Those concerned about a person’s alcohol abuse should organize one or more planning sessions. The planning sessions are used to decide who is part of the intervention, how long it’ll take, and where it’ll be performed. It will also provide general expectations of the experience. 
  • Once the first discussion about the intervention is complete, members of the group must recruit a mental health professional certified intervention professional specializing in addictive behaviors to take part in further planning. 
  • Other planning sessions with a clinician or professional interventionist can help structure the intervention.
  • In some models, the individual with an alcohol use disorder is not part of the planning stage, and in others, the individual is included in each step of the intervention.
  • Once the professional interventionist, clinician, and intervention group have been chosen, the group can start planning and rehearse what each person will say to the individual with an alcohol use disorder. Individuals will be instructed to write down what they say and keep it short. 
  • During the planning phase, the group must research and decide on treatment options where the person with an alcohol use disorder can immediately enter. It means contacting setting up initial meetings, contacting treatment providers, and understanding the costs covered in the program. You must always find out what insurance will cover. 
  • The group should then set the final date, time, and where the intervention will take place. When the person with the alcohol use disorder is unaware that intervention is taking place, it’ll be a huge surprise to them, whereas when they take part, they’re aware of what’s happening, and it won’t be as much of a shock.
  • Once the intervention is complete, group members should follow up to ensure the treatment is going well or plan other interventions if the initial one fails. 


If Intervention Doesn’t Work

A significant issue that could occur when someone organizes an intervention for a person with alcohol use disorder is that the intervention will not progress beyond the initial planning stage. If you can’t perform an intervention, it’s obviously not going to be effective. 

In addition to what we’ve mentioned above, when interventions are not supervised by a professional, they could become venting opportunities for frustrated friends and family members, which can have the opposite effect. If an intervention turns into a shouting match, the effectiveness decreases significantly. 

Lastly, not having ready or concrete opportunities for the individual to enter addiction treatment on the spot will reduce the effectiveness of the intervention. The team must research, outline, and contact prospective programs and providers. The individual in question must be able to get into treatment immediately to increase the chances of success. Not having a center lined up can cause them to change their mind if given time to think.

It’s crucial that the treatment centers offer appropriate care levels for alcohol addiction, such as medical detox. Without specific care, the person with an alcohol use disorder might not succeed long-term. Treatment must take into account their personal history, co-occurring disorders, or other substances they might abuse in conjunction with alcohol. Make sure the team does their homework and knows the right questions to ask because it could be the difference between life and death. 



Alcohol addiction is an ongoing issue that doesn’t disappear with treatment. Although getting help from a medical professional and learning the proper tools is a step in the right direction, you’ll have to maintain that care once you leave the comfort of treatment. The 30 to 90 days you spend in a facility is a small period of time compared to the years that’ll follow in recovery. Adjusting to life after rehab is a challenge because they lose the routine in rehab and external triggers begin to reemerge. 

Fortunately, various programs exist to help recovering alcoholics thrive and remain sober. There are other steps to minimize the likelihood of relapse. 

Facility-Based Program

Many facilities offer an aftercare program. The scope varies tremendously among these programs, but some services could include sober living arrangements, medical evaluations, follow-up therapy, and alumni support programs. Although most rehabs will let a patient know what aftercare services are available, you should always reach out first. 

Sober Living Homes

Sober living homes are residential facilities for those recovering from substance abuse. Some might have affiliation with a government organization or rehab facilities, but the majority are independent. You can find these across the United States, but they’re the most widespread in California. Sober living homes increase the chances a recovering alcoholic will stay sober. Although they’re designed for temporary residence of less than a year, some offer long-term choices. 

Some sober living homes have leaders who create and enforce rules, while others operate more democratically. Both models are useful, and the question of what’s best is dependent on your needs. All sober living homes operate under different guidelines. While most share similar characteristics, some are a little different. They all expect you to be home by curfew, share expenses, and stay sober. Guidelines are stricter for new residents and will gradually decrease as they adjust to their new home.

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