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Interventions should be carefully planned and developed by a professional interventionist. The purpose of an alcohol intervention is to get the alcoholic into a rehabilitation program. Intervention for alcoholism is challenging because most alcoholics are functioning. Within the United States, 5.8% of adults aged 18 and older have an alcohol use disorder. These 14.4 million adults are not all the stereotypical drunks who are not working and who are broke. Many of these Americans are high functioning alcoholics, which means they work, maintain a family, and some responsibilities. However, they are all destined to struggle and eventually face severe consequences.

What is the alcohol intervention process, and how does a family intervention work?

The High Functioning Alcoholic

When a person’s drinking patterns worsen and become dangerous is typically when an alcohol intervention takes place. However, high functioning alcoholics maintain a steady pattern of drinking that is on that line of becoming life-threatening. A functioning alcoholic may have gotten a DUI charge or been kicked out of the bar once a week or had a possible life-threatening close call. Yet, they are still functioning, holding down a job, married, or even have kids. They may tend to restrict their alcohol abuse to specific situations or times. Also, they can convince everyone around them that their drinking is not problematic. High functioning alcoholics will minimize the problems associated with their abuse of alcohol. However, everyone around them knows they are one day away from something horrible happening, and they may never ask for help.

Staging an Intervention for Alcoholic

Intervention for alcoholism can happen at any time and does not have to occur when something horrible occurs. Some families choose to shy away from a family intervention with a functioning alcoholic. There is a fear of their backlash and what they will say. However, early intervention is always the best approach. The most successful way to overcome this fear and regain control is to hire a professional interventionist. Your loved one may not know they have a drinking problem and is unwilling to come to terms with it. Certified intervention specialists understand this and are trained and qualified to overcome it. Hiring an interventionist is the first step to staging an alcohol intervention.

Typically, after a professional interventionist is hired, two days are spent for the entire process. Usually, the first day is family education. The family day involves learning about intervention, selecting who will be there, choosing a time and a place, writing impact letters, and preparing for every scenario. The second day is when the alcohol intervention takes place. Following a successful intervention, the alcoholic is escorted to the pre-selected treatment program. The interventionist brings your loved one from the intervention to the treatment facility. This has always been the most successful approach because a qualified interventionist knows what to expect along the way.

What if an alcoholic says no to treatment?

The most challenging aspect of family intervention with a high functioning alcoholic is his or her ability to deny they need help. However, the purpose of each person involved with the intervention is to create an emotional impact. The letters each person reads are projecting love and support, and an understanding that this is important. The professional interventionist is the third party keeping the intervention in the track. However, despite all of this and the emotional impact, they may still say no to treatment – what happens next?

Plan B, which is tough love or an ultimatum. Planning consequences for a high functioning alcoholic if they choose not to go to treatment is not always easy. However, there is still something that a person realizes they will lose or someone they will hurt if the alcoholism continues. For example, an alcoholic could be facing some severe DUI charges, which could lead to court-ordered treatment if they are not voluntarily willing to attend rehab. The alcoholic may have a significant other and children with that person – some families have gone as far as a restraining order if they did not go to treatment. A high functioning alcoholic may own a business, and their business partners could shut them out. Some families even get their loved one’s employer involved from where they work. The purpose is to demonstrate the severity of the problem and how much everyone cares.

How does a high functioning alcoholic remain in an alcohol addiction treatment program?

The time between when they leave the intervention to the rehab center can be emotional. Interventionists typically escort the person to the pre-selected alcohol treatment program. However, within those first two weeks, your loved one will attempt to leave, guilt their family, and or friends into helping them go, and they will not want to be there. The intervention does not stop after a person agrees to treatment. A certified interventionist continues to work with the family during the treatment of their loved one. The intervention may even go on for weeks with all parties involved continuing to convince them to remain in treatment. Also, this does include reinforcing that bottom line or consequences.

High functioning alcoholics will always have a reason why they do not need help and why they can stop on their own. Moreover, any person struggling with addiction will have these same reasons. Yet, the only constant is that any addiction, no matter what it is, becomes worse if left untreated. Alcohol addiction leads down the darkest hole physically and psychologically. The addiction takes everything away from you, whether it happens now or twenty years later. That fact will never change and is the reason why staging an alcohol intervention saves lives.

Source: https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/alcohol-facts-and-statistics

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