Alcohol Intervention UK

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Call our local number 01603 513 091
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Call our local number 01603 513 091
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Alcohol Intervention UK 

Alcohol intervention is one way to deal with addiction to alcohol. It is a process that involves an intervention group of people who confront the alcohol addict and persuade them to go into a professional treatment facility.  

Alcohol has been and is still a problem in the UK. NHS recent figures indicate a possible 7.5 million people in the entire UK have an alcohol dependence issue. [1] 

In England alone, there are approximately 603,391 adults with a drinking problem. Yet about 18% of them are undergoing a treatment program. So it’s a total of 104 880 individuals under treatment with an alcohol or other substance use disorder. [2 

An intervention can be complex, as it involves typically family and friends, and the addict may react negatively to the confrontation. But, it’s constructive and has a high rate of success.

However, unless you or your loved one enter treatment to the end after the intervention meeting, the chances of healing from addiction are minimal. [3 

What is an Intervention? 

An intervention is a planned effort led by a concerned person or group on behalf of someone who has a problem with alcohol.

Interventions focus on the drinker’s behaviour and its consequences, aiming to educate the drinker on the risks and talk about ways to change this behaviour. 

The most common goal of an intervention is to get the drinking person into a drug rehab or a treatment facility.  

The World Health Organisation confirms that interventions can effectively treat an addiction. It is not easy for a family to confront their loved ones with their addiction and ask them to help.  But, often, the family feels like it is the only thing they can do. [4] 

An intervention is often executed to make the person seek professional help. However, sometimes an addict doesn't want to admit it. 

So, the most effective intervention requires that the drinking person is at least willing to go into rehab. When the person is not ready to go into rehab, the intervention may not work.  

What happens at an intervention? 

An intervention is a meeting with family and friends of the person struggling with the addiction. This meeting is used to help the person realise that what is happening in their life is not normal and they need to change.

An intervention professional is also present during this meeting, and they will guide the process and provide support.  

The drug or alcohol addiction counsellor will outline the warning signs for substance abuse and various intervention steps that can be taken.

They will also teach the family and friends of the person struggling with drug addiction how to provide support and motivation to seek treatment options. 

What does stage an intervention mean? 

To stage an intervention means to help the alcoholic to admit that they have a problem and need help. It as well means to get their family and friends to create a plan to help them get to the alcohol rehabilitation centre or treatment facility

Mainly, staging an intervention occurs when the individual is in severe danger and isn't responding to advice.  

Staging an intervention process 

The process of staging an intervention is often tedious and challenging. And that’s why it’s good to talk to a counsellor, social worker or a health expert before staging an intervention.

Apart from providing expert advice, they may attend and offer more support like a solution to legal or financial problems.  

Also, stage an intervention when everyone is available, friends, family members and any other concerned people.  

Make sure it’s in an informal setting such as someone's home or other comfortable space. It should be in a quiet room where the alcoholic cannot escape or refuse help. However, don't lock the doors or deny them exit. 

if the meeting turns out wayward. They should be able to leave if at all the meeting goes unexpected.

And it will only work if they agree, and all the people in the intervention will tell them that they've noticed a problem and want to help them with a plan.  

Meanwhile, as the individuals arrive, let them know what the meeting is about. Talk to them about your concern on their change of character as you invite everyone else to express their concern for the individual's wellbeing.  

As well, discussing the consequences that could arise if the person does continue with alcoholism and drug dependence. But do not bully them.  

So, the intervention specialist will often try to get the alcoholic to accept help without a fight. You may then provide them with a list of treatment programs and centres to begin their recovery process.

Although, in good instances, they may decide to go to rehab on the spot, don’t hesitate to facilitate their move. But, if they’re unwilling, you may end the intervention.  

It’s impossible to force them into listening or taking them to rehab or a mental health facility. 

How do you start an intervention? 

There are many ways to start an intervention, but one relatively easy way is the six-stage technique. This technique is based on the principles of addiction management.

And the method has been used by treatment professional interventionist for over thirty years. 

The techniques are: 

1 Planning 

A person will need to have a plan to start an intervention. Ideally, the plan will outline the reasons they are confrontational, the best way to express their concerns, and an outline of how to proceed in the situation.  

You may also need to have a few people there to help the intervention run smoothly. For instance, you may have intervention specialists, a therapist or any other expert in the field to offer relevant medical information on how to go about the intervention. 

2. How to prepare other members; friends, family for the intervention 

When preparing for an alcohol crisis intervention, it is essential to prepare the other family members for the intervention. This includes having everyone develop ways to support the person during the intervention.  

It is also essential to have people develop reasons why they should stop drinking without using judgmental language. Typically, the addicted person should not know that an intervention is happening.

But, if they find out beforehand, find out how best to respond to the situation. 

Remember, poor preparation can activate a sense of betrayal or anger and the addict feel ashamed. 

3. Gathering the intervention team 

Before getting started, it is vital to assemble an intervention team. The team members should consist of three to five people with whom the one struggling with addiction has a close relationship.  

So, typically, the team will consist of:  

  • The alcohol addict:  you may need to use more than one intervention strategy to avoid the addict leaving immediately after the confrontation. 
  • Friends and family: If the individual is a child, the parent will head the team. But if they're married, then the spouse will be the lead. 
  • The intervention professional team may also include a therapist or mental health professional. 

Remember, alcohol addiction is a disease with loneliness and is scary. So, seeing friends and any family member reassures you, and the addicted person may be willing to start their residential rehabilitation. 

4. Offering consequences 

Commonly, addicts may negatively respond to an intervention, withdraw and walk away. At this point, the professional interventionist team should develop a list of consequences for failure. When possible, results should be immediate, logical, and motivational.  

For example, if the dependent drinkers refuse treatment options, the consequences should not include kicking them out of the house. But you can deny them the rights with children or deny them their car keys. 

5. Sharing 

During the intervention interventions, the intervention team members must talk. And this will help the one struggling with addiction understand how concerned their family members and friends are. It might just be the best trigger. 

6. Present the treatment option 

After everyone has presented their counsel and thoughts, this is a fair chance to explain a list of treatment providers suggestions in detail.

The individual may decide on the spot and choose a treatment centre, or they may be willing to go after a few days of weighing and deciding various treatment providers. 

Intervention for drugs 

Drug misuse is dangerous. They kill people and rob people of their livelihood. Therefore, drugs are a severe problem in society.

To stop the drugs from spreading and helping create a world of false happiness, we have to have drastic action; an intervention for drugs.  

The National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counsellors (NAADAC) has a program in the US, Canada and abroad that they created to help people with drug or alcohol addiction. [5] 

But you have to believe that you have a problem and recognise that you need to do something about it as your initial step to recovery.  

Intervention does not just entail one person deciding to take action. It involves their friends and family as well. However, the idea of getting people to understand that you need help can be hard to do.  


So, what are the possible interventions for drugs? 

There are several intervention programs. We have: 

Professional intervention  

This seems the best method to identify a drug use problem in addicts. However, it can be the worst when the individual’s relapse after treatment or when it turns out a poorly planned intervention.

But, with a bit of intervention from family and addiction services, they may fully comprehend why they must seek life skills training for the substance abuse problem, which brings us to family intervention. 

Family intervention 

While the idea of intervention for family members with addiction is intense, intense emotions that provoke personal feelings are sometimes needed to wake people up.

Intervention is the process of motivating loved ones to get the help they need. 

Family intervention models for drugs is a meeting in which all the family members share their thoughts, feelings, and opinions about the loved one's addiction.

In many cases, this action has been successful, resulting in psycho-educational treatment approach for the addicted person to begin treatment.  

Though it can be hard to come up with the confidence, to be honest, it may be the only option to save the loved one's life.

The intervention should be well planned down to the smallest detail; seek support from a medical professional or an alcohol service. 

The goal of an effective intervention is to help the addict understand how destructive alcohol or drugs are. Let them understand effects like withdrawal symptoms and bipolar disorder in hopes that they will finally quit.

Family members need to have a carefully planned process and be honest in the intervention meeting to get through to the addict. 

Therefore, it's essential to understand that interventions are not about forcing loved ones to get help. Instead, they are about persuading people to believe that they are worth getting help.  

Intervention for alcohol addiction 

People often find themselves with alcohol and drug problems but find very therapeutic support in addiction treatment programmes.

These are often outpatient programs, where the person will go to groups for help, attend AA meetings, and generally be very closely monitored. 

It is essential to realise that alcohol abuse is a disease, and it is something that can't be cured by willpower or by wishing it away. Therefore, it is crucial to get help, but only with the assistance of a professional. 

Seeking help before you are ready to quit can lead to relapse after early progress. 

However, the essential initial strategy has an intervention to make the addict understand the need for help. 

Brief intervention 

Brief intervention is a strategy often used with those who may be alcohol dependent.

It involves interventions by a family member, friends, and intervention specialist, which can take place in various spots, such as the home, the workplace, and medical settings.  

Successful intervention is typically done in a group setting and lasts for less than an hour, precisely 10 to 15 minutes.  

There are four main goals that the intervention specialist will hope to achieve:  

  • First, directly confronting the drinker about their drinking.  
  • Second, giving feedback about the drinker's behaviour and emotions.  
  • Third, providing a choice of a different behaviour or a consequence for continuing this behaviour.  
  • Fourth, provide ongoing support to change this behaviour of addiction affecting them. 

Moreover, you may need to have a "drinking diary". It keeps a record of the units of alcohol consumption weekly.

Also, during the intervention, you may gain tips concerning social drinking, for instance, interchanging soft with alcohol drinks as you enjoy with friends. 

Brief intervention targets harmful drinkers and aims to cut the intake. And according to research, they contribute to about 20% to 30% drop in excessive drinking.

Above all, it is a cost-effective first-level treatment and a great programme to help your loved one. [4] 

Motivational Interviewing 

Motivational Interviewing is a new tool for recovering alcoholics. It is a bold type of therapy aimed at helping people with drinking problems develop their motivation to change.

This new therapy aims to assist people in realising the difficulties associated with their drinking, giving them the right tools to stop and guide them through avoiding temptation.  

Motivational Interviewing aims to help people find what they are missing in their lives that they are not getting from alcohol. This therapy has been proven to be more successful than traditional therapy. 

While many may find this therapy simplistic or naive, research has shown that it is an effective way to help an alcoholic get sober.

In one review done by Cohraine, it was found that there was a significant decrease in the extent of drug abuse in low dependent alcoholics than in older dependants when no intervention is used. [6] 

Motivational Interviewing is grounded in the following principles: The individual has the power to make changes continuous feedback is necessary for change  

The goal is to explore hunger and barriers to change, adjust to patients' resistance and uphold self-worth and hopefulness.  

Cognitive behavioural interventions  

A common misconception is that alcoholics are lazy, unmotivated people who lack self-control. But the truth is, the brain of an alcoholic is wired differently than an average person.

As a result, alcohol addicts may struggle with addiction to alcohol; it leads to physical dependence, cognitive impairment, and often other mental health issues.  

Some cognitive interventions for alcoholics are a perfect way out. They entail a collection of methods contingents on the learning principles.

Thus, it is a psychological intervention that emphasises classifying and adjusting irrational views, handling negative moods, and intervening after a lapse rate to curb a full-blown relapse. 

Cognitive therapy helps patients even those with serious mental illness identify and combat self-destructive thoughts and behaviours and instil better character. 

Other intervention methods are: 

  •  Detox 
  • Moderation    
  • Abstinence      
  • Medicine/ prescription drugs 

Substance abuse addiction treatment 

In the past couple of years, drug abuse has become the rising focus of the global health care system. Despite this, many addicts are given a simple ultimatum: get help like free confidential assessment or go to jail.

Unfortunately, in most cases, these harsh punishments are not effective in helping individuals overcome their addiction and mental health issues.  

Programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous work with addicts to solve this rising epidemic. The programs provide many different types of services that can help a person recover from their addiction through various means.  

For example, a behaviour modification service might teach a person how to resist their urge for drugs by inflicting pain when they have the desire. 

Other services might involve detoxification from substances, medical treatment, psychological care, or a combination of treatments. 

Tips for a successful intervention 

Successful interventions require a lot of time and effort and many different steps. Remember, the key to any intervention is to go in with a cordial and understanding tone. This will help you get the best results possible. 

If you are considering attempting to intervene in someone's life to help them, here are some tips to keep in mind before starting: 

  • Pick the right time. Timing can be critical. If you know that someone is stressed or busy, your intervention may not yield the desired results.     
  • Pick the right people. The people you choose to have the intervention with are key. They should be people who are close to the person. At least one person chosen should remain calm, collected, and assertive in the face of any challenging behaviour. 
  • Pick the right place. This is important to consider so that it is not too aggressive.  
  •  Create a detailed treatment plan. To avoid overwhelming them with finding treatment centres by themselves, you should develop several treatment programs and treatment centres for them.  Ascertain that the one they settle on has an opening and is good, then organise funds for the treatment. A 12-step model plan might be suitable for some but not all because of various people's values and religious perspectives.      
  • Maintain the consequences. Mean what you say and stick to it. Please don't decide to deny them money and still give them later. That threat will only be empty and meaningless. 

Do interventions work? 

It depends on the type of programme and treatment centres available. There’s minimal evidence on the effectiveness of interventions.

It’s more likely for an addict to seek addiction treatment after undergoing an intervention, but it doesn't guarantee a positive outcome in the end. 

With total commitment to sobriety, it's more likely that the person, even with the overwhelming peer pressure to manage to get better.  

So, interventions are a final effort for addicts who have continuously denied treatment or are unable to uphold a sober life.

And that's why anyone that undergoes intervention is always deeply deep-rooted in alcoholism or substance abuse. 

However, addicts will possibly overcome the addiction with a robust support system and access to good intervention specialists.

And an intervention specialist can be a uniting point for a family devoted to ensuring their loved ones has attained a clean bill of health. 

After the intervention 

After the intervention, the individual should take a break from alcohol for a while, seek treatment, and ask for help from alcoholic’s alcoholism counsellors.

If the intervention didn't work, let's say it didn't motivate the person, you do not need to despair.  

You may pursue manifold interventions to achieve the desired results, the right emotional response. And as you seek another intervention, it's good to limit the damage that occurred in the previous intervention.

In fact, a rehearsal intervention with a professional present may be a good step before starting the intervention treatment.  

But in case the intervention worked, ensure to admit them to a drug rehab as soon as possible. But, again, this is to avoid the change of mind. 


Your loved one's addiction to alcohol has left you feeling powerless. You may wonder if you can make them realise how much they hurt you.

You want to feel like their problems affect you, but they seem to be more focused on themselves.  

The best chance you have at getting your loved one to stop drinking is to go to an alcohol intervention earlier. Impulsivity is the key to addiction, and therefore your loved one needs intervention now to overcome addiction.

If you wait too long, then the chances of giving up alcohol get smaller.  

It's important to talk to your loved one now rather than ignoring the problem. 

Abbeycare Pricing Bot

About the author

Laura Morris

Laura Morris is an experienced clinical practitioner and CQC Registered Manager with over twenty years experience, over ten of which have been as an Independent Nurse Prescriber.

She has held a number of senior leadership roles in the substance use and mental health sector in the NHS, the prison service and in leading social enterprises in the field.

Last Updated: November 22, 2023