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How to Have an Intervention

answered 09:26 PM EST, Mon April 08, 2013
anonymous anonymous
My brother has made it clear to us that he won’t listen to anyone who tries to criticize his drinking and he just gets up and walks away if we try. I want to get the family to do an intervention but what are we supposed to do, handcuff him to his chair? How are we supposed to get him to stay put long enough to hear us out?

Anna Deeds Says...

Anna Deeds A. Deeds
MSED, NCC, LPC

Thank you for your question. An intervention is a great idea to get your brother to hear your concerns about his drinking. However, I wouldn't recommend trying to do an intervention on your own. You really need a trained professional who knows how to make an alcoholic hear what you have to say. A professional Counselor or Interventionist knows techniques to calm a person down and talk to him in a way that he can really hear what you have to say. An interventionist would probably meet with the family first and discuss things to do or not do during the intervention. The professional might ask you to write down your concerns emphasizing your feelings without placing blame which would only put your brother on the defensive. For example, if you use "I statements" an alcoholic will be able to hear your concerns without feeling you are being judgmental. No one likes to feel they are being judged and this would only make him want to leave the intervention. An example of an "I statement" is "I feel scared when you drink a lot."

The point of an intervention is for the alcoholic to enter treatment. Plans should be made ahead of time so the alcoholic has the opportunity to go directly to treatment after the intervention. If he is given too much time, he may change his mind. The family needs to decide on consequences for the alcoholic if he refuses to go to treatment. This may mean the family will refuse to enable the alcoholic in any way and may even go as far as to cut off all contact with the alcoholic unless he enters treatment. Whatever consequences are decided upon, it is important to be consistent and stick with the consequences. It may seem tough but if your brother is an alcoholic, his life is on the line. Alcoholism is a disease and it needs proper treatment for progress to occur.

You may also want to try going to Al-Anon meetings. Al-Anon is for the friends and family of Alcoholics. These meetings will help you deal with how you are affected by your brother's drinking. They will also help you not enable your brother. Enabling only makes it easier for your brother to keep drinking. 

You have to accept that no matter what you do, your brother may choose to continue drinking. However, you don't have to let his drinking become the focus of you and your family's lives. You don't have to let it create a lot of conflict and tension in your family.

I hope this answers your question and good luck with your brother.

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Page last updated Apr 08, 2013

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