If you broke your leg in three places, could not walk, suffered unbearable pain, you would likely welcome some kind of medical intervention. After all, you would not be able to work, or go to the ball game, or enjoy life because the broken leg would ruin everything. Getting help would be an easy choice. But that isn’t always the case with someone who is afflicted with the disease of alcoholism. Chances are they don’t want any help because they don’t believe they have an issue.
How is an intervention for alcohol different?
That’s what separates Alcohol Intervention from most other diseases and conditions. Alcoholics don’t want treatment. They want to drink. They may not enjoy drinking, they may even loathe drinking, but that’s what they are compelled to do and they will resist the idea of going into treatment even though they understand that alcoholism can be fatal. Interventions are often necessary steps to give families and friends the opportunity to try to help convince an alcoholic that he/she is going to die unless something changes.
Alcohol Intervention is the subject of a reality television show, but like all reality television shows, the reality that is shown is what makes for good television. But the show does give us an idea of what goes on and the elements of a successful intervention.
While interventions are designed to get the alcoholic into treatment, they are really a healing time for family and friends. Alcoholism is a family disease because everyone is impacted. Marriages go sour because a spouse drinks, social services steps in a removes children from the home because of alcoholic parents, or the alcoholic’s disease destroys personal relationships. The family is torn apart and the intervention is the first step towards the bringing together of all members and facilitating their healing.
Get the entire family together
In general, the interventionist, a trained professional, will gather the family together and hear all of the stories. He/she has a treatment facility in mind and is prepared to take the alcoholic to treatment immediately upon their saying “yes” at the intervention. It looks easy on television and people think they can do their own intervention, but that is a bad idea. It may look easy, but that is because the interventionists know exactly what they are doing, why they are doing it and they have vast experience.
Family and friends are encouraged to put their thoughts and feelings down on paper, speaking directly to the alcoholic with the intention of bringing to light the negative impact the alcoholic’s disease has had on them.
Alcoholism makes people VERY self-focused
Alcoholism causes people to become completely self-centered, robbing them of the ability to connect with other people, even those they love. Having alcohol on hand, drinking continuously or at any time, avoiding that which distracts them from drinking are symptoms of a disease that takes the humanity out of the person.
The interventionist is trying to help people communicate that destruction very clearly to the alcoholic, to reach the remaining feeling inside that person and connect with the emotional attachments that make life so meaningful. The stories that are shared by the group also communicate a united effort to help the alcoholic. As the old saying goes, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, so the alcoholic will try to find that weak link and exploit it. The alcoholic wants to find an enabler who will cave to their demands and not make a stand. If the group holds firm, the interventionist has a much greater probability of a good outcome.
Does an intervention always work?
Are all Alcohol Intervention efforts successful? No. There are alcoholics who will drink no matter what. But interventions that are successful result in the alcoholic going to treatment and hopefully going into a recovery program after leaving the facility. Of course, relapse is part of the disease and the family and friends need to understand that there is no cure for alcoholism. The process may have to be repeated, but it’s worth it. They have to keep fighting for the well being of the alcoholic.
Alcohol Intervention also includes treatment for family members. The alcoholic obviously has the disease to deal with and will be involved in a treatment program, but family and friends also need treatment, so interventionists often prescribe a pathway for their needs to be met. Sadly, family members may promise to attend classes or support groups, but that isn’t a guarantee.
Intervention is a life-line to try to help
Alcohol Intervention can be thought of as a life line. Alcoholics are so often in complete denial of their disease and the mere suggestion of “cutting back” or getting “some help” is completely out of the question. They become angry and ready to fight for their way of living. Denial is powerful, so powerful that some alcoholics literally drink themselves to death.
If the alcoholism itself does not kill them, heart and liver disease are always waiting in the wings. The alcohol may choose to deny any presence of disease or malady, so interventions become the important, precipitating event that marks a change in direction and hopefully a future of health and well being.