When is an Intervention for Alcohol Abuse Needed?
Alcohol use and even binge drinking are socially accepted, so it can be difficult to determine if your loved one truly needs an intervention. A 2020 report by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found over 25% of U.S. adults admitted to binge drinking in the past month. In a society comfortable with binge drinking, the lines between habit and addiction can become blurry.
An intervention for alcohol abuse is needed when someone crosses the line from habitual drinking to a clinical disorder. Alcohol use disorder involves symptoms like strong cravings for alcohol, inability to stop drinking, and continuing to drink even when it’s negatively affecting a person’s health. If your loved one seems to have lost control over alcohol use and is drinking despite serious consequences, drinking is not just a habit. In this case, an alcohol intervention is necessary.
How to Stage an Intervention for Alcohol Abuse
Even if an intervention is needed, approaching the subject can be difficult. These tips can support the intervention and help make it successful:
- Consult an addiction professional or alcohol interventionist to determine the best way to intervene with your loved one. Alcohol interventionists have extensive training and experience in addiction and treatment procedures, so they can help you make a plan.
- Rehearse what will be discussed in the meeting during the planning phase. Writing out your thoughts beforehand can be helpful. Discuss with your interventionist and your group how to change your behavior moving forward and what consequences may be necessary after the intervention takes place.
- Stick to the plan during the intervention. All participating members need to stick to their plan, even if your loved one appears upset or resistant. It’s best not to deviate from established consequences if your loved one refuses treatment or isn’t open to discussion. Continuing behavior that enables the alcohol addiction hurts everyone.
However you decide to intervene, always consider your loved one’s safety first. In some cases, stopping alcohol use can be dangerous. According to a 2013 report, severe alcohol withdrawal can lead to seizures or a potentially fatal condition called delirium tremens. When staging an intervention, it is vital to consider whether the person struggling with addiction may require medically-supervised detox to prevent serious alcohol withdrawal complications.
Interventions for Teenage Alcohol Abuse
Your choice of alcohol intervention model may look different for a teenage loved one. Since teenagers often live at home with parents, the family systemic model may be a suitable fit for this age group. It helps families communicate in a healthy way and asks the entire family to seek counseling.
The CRAFT model also guides the entire family toward seeking treatment and can be beneficial for teens. Teens may prefer this model to more aggressive approaches. The CRAFT model is especially appropriate since it urges the whole family unit to participate in counseling. This approach can also help parents recover from the devastating effects of having a child who is addicted to alcohol.