Alcohol Intervention

Is an Alcohol Intervention Different from Other Interventions?

When people reach out to us and ask us about an Alcohol Intervention, many people think that alcohol and drug interventions are conducted in the same way. An Alcohol Intervention or intervention on an alcoholic is an intervention where the addiction is primarily alcohol, although there may be other substances abused as well, just to a lesser degree. Although the substance itself isn’t usually the true problem in terms of recovery, it is important to understand that each substance abused does require a different approach in terms of the interventionist. An alcohol intervention is handled differently than a standard drug intervention. Alcohol is a depressant, making alcohol interventions less aggressive than say a stimulant intervention on crack or meth. Alcohol interventions require precision timing as sometimes the alcoholic can be under the influence making an intervention for alcoholics best handled by an interventionist familiar with alcohol.

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An Alcohol Intervention is different than on a drug user?

When people think of an Alcohol intervention, they usually think of it differently than “drugs”.  Alcohol is technically a drug, however, most people put alcohol into it’s own category. Refer to an alcoholic as a drug addict and see the reaction. Due to the legality and social acceptability of alcohol we generally refer to those addicted to mood altering substances as either an “alcoholic” or a “drug addict”. In dealing with an alcoholic we generally have two types of people needing alcohol interventions, each of which is dealt with in a different way.  Again, an intervention on an alcoholic is different than one done on a drug user.

Alcohol Intervention for Binge Drinkers

The first type of alcohol intervention is on the “binge type” alcoholic. This is someone who usually doesn’t drink every day and may even go for months without a drink. However, once alcohol enters their system’s leads to another and another. This type of alcoholic often baffles the family member. He seems to be fine, everything is ok and then the worst happens again. He may even be trying not to drink, may have promised never to drink again, but there he goes again. And, unfortunately, it seems that with each binge the behaviors worsen. Sometimes getting into fights, passing out, or driving drunk, his behaviors while drunk is completely different from his personality while sober. He may even be the nicest guy in the world, but give him a drink and watch what happens. It’s almost as if there are two personalities. This type of alcoholic takes longer for a family member to become concerned enough to consider alcohol interventions. Usually what happens is that after a binge the family is quite concerned, however, they fall back once again into the hope that perhaps things will be different this time. It commonly takes either a long series of ever-worsening binges or such extreme behaviors during the binge for the family to become willing to conduct an alcohol intervention. The sad reality with binge drinkers is that statistically, they are in greater danger than the “daily drinker”, and are often confronted less often…usually only after a binge.

The difficulty of doing an alcohol intervention on a binge drinker is one of timing. If an alcohol intervention is conducted on a binge drinker who hasn’t had a drink in 6 months, there is a higher degree of difficulty in convincing the alcoholic that although sober right now, he still has an unhandled problem and without some degree of therapy will probably drink again. Ideally, alcohol interventions for a binge drinker should be conducted within months of his last binge.

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Alcohol Intervention on a Daily Drinker

The second type of alcohol intervention is on the “daily drinker”. As the name implies, a daily drinker is someone who rarely goes without alcohol for long. There are different stages of daily drinker. Generally, this begins as someone who has a 6 pack or a martini every night after work. Later this quantity might increase and as the amount and duration increases, the daily drinker might need to have an occasional drink throughout the evening when his sleep patterns become interrupted. A later stage involves the daily drinker awakening with the need to have a drink to “stop the jitters”. At this point in his alcoholism, the alcoholic has begun to become physically dependent on the alcohol and may even have seizures, delusions or tremors if he goes without alcohol for too long. The last and final stage of a daily drinker is the need to constantly ingest alcohol. To go without alcohol for any length can even result in death at this point. The irony being if he continues to drink in the same duration and quantity then he will surely die from alcohol relation symptoms…if he quits abruptly without medical supervision he will probably die from a seizure or heart failure.

The difficulty of doing an alcohol intervention on a daily drinker is also in the timing, however, this is the timing of minutes or hours and not days or months like with the binge drinker. To conduct alcohol interventions on a daily drinker in the morning prior to his first drink will usually result in his attention being solely on his first drink, major agitation, tremors and possible seizures. If we wait too late in the day he may be too severely intoxicated and unable to process the intervention.

An Intervention Can Help Save Your Loved One’s Life

Alcohol is glamorized in Movies, on TV, in print and on billboards.  There are bars, taverns or saloons in almost every town in America.  An alcoholic intervention can mean the difference between life and death for someone who is in the late stages of the addiction.  The earlier the alcoholic intervention takes place, the better the success rate for a full, healthy recovery.  Often times families wait too long to seek an alcoholic intervention.  No matter how long you wait, recovery is always possible as long as bottom lines are drawn and the enabling stops.

An alcoholic intervention is not for the addict alone.  The goal of an alcoholic intervention is to get your loved one treatment, but, it is also their goal to teach you how to live a life free from the throes of addiction.  It is ultimately up to the addict to live a life of recovery.  Accepting treatment and following through are tantamount to living a healthy life of sobriety.

Tough love is the only way you can stop enabling and take back control of your life.  The key word isn’t tough, it’s love.  We need, sometimes, to show those in our lives that we care too much for them to live a destructive life and that we care too much for ourselves to compromise our morals.  If you have ever done something that you feel is questionable to help the addict in your life, it’s time to take your life back and look into an alcoholic intervention on your loved one.

Alcoholics and Withdrawal

When someone stops drinking alcohol, obviously it is what a family hopes for.  But, when thinking of an alcoholic intervention, stopping without medical care can sometimes be fatal.  Withdrawal from alcohol is potentially life-threatening. Persons need to be medically monitored during this process. Within 3-4 hours of the last dose, a person who is dependent on alcohol will begin to experience:

First Phase Withdrawal

  • Vital signs elevated–increased blood pressure, pulse, and temperature
  • Diaphoresis
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diuretic effects
  • Slurred speech
  • Tremors, hands shake, poor coordination (drop cigarettes, spill water)
  • Unsteady gait
  • Anxiousness
  • Insomnia
  • Short attention span

Second Phase Withdrawal

  • Hallucinations–will show this by being distracted, frightened, and disoriented
  • Grand Mai Seizure is always a possibility
  • DTs (delirium tremens)–develop anytime. Severe psychomotor activity,  extremely agitated state (may act like brushing away crawling insects), incontinence, uncooperative, confused, talking and having a conversation when no one is there, diaphoretic, won’t know where they are. Once in DTs it takes 3-5 days to get out of it (21% die if they go into DTs and are not medically treated)

Treatment Applications of Alcoholic Withdrawal

  • Increase sedation–early administration of tranquilizer medication can prevent the development of severe withdrawal by staying ahead of the withdrawal symptoms
  • Monitor fluid and electrolytes closely
  • Monitor vital signs at least every 2 hours
  • Monitor the safety of all systems (restraints only if absolutely necessary)
  • Observe closely–watch for seizures–take precautions
  • Limit sensory input–quiet room, little stimulation, slow down, talk slowly, no radio or TV
  • Do not reason–no psychotherapy, no interviewing
  • Be factual, gentle, kind
  • Behave in a calm, relaxed manner
  • Stay with the patient, orient to reality
  • Accept patient without moralizing or blaming
  • Close doors to avoid shadows, keep the room well lit

Alcohol Detoxification

Following withdrawal from alcohol, a dependent person may experience several symptoms, including:

  • eating and sleep disturbances
  • tremors (involuntary trembling motion of the body)
  • sweats
  • clouding of the sensorium
  • hallucinations
  • agitation
  • elevated temperature
  • change in pulse rate
  • convulsions

Some of these symptoms can be life-threatening. In addition, the potential for suicide must be considered. Because of the possibility of these extreme consequences, there should be clearly defined procedures to follow when an individual is experiencing alcohol detoxification. These should be implemented in a variety of settings, including jails, shelters, and other congregate living situations. Alcohol detoxification is usually provided in a hospital setting for five days or less. Medical supervision is needed to provide medications, vitamin therapy, and, in some cases, measures to correct water and electrolyte imbalances. Alcohol detoxification also may be provided in non-hospital settings, but the rates of successful completion have been much lower. Patients who need medical or psychiatric care, have no housing, have coexisting chemical dependencies, are unemployed, or come to the initial visit intoxicated are less likely to succeed in outpatient treatment and are more likely to need hospitalization.  Medications that can be useful in the treatment of alcohol withdrawal include benzodiazepines and other CNS depressants such as barbiturates. Clonidine and beta-blocking chemicals may help decrease symptoms of tremor, fast heart rate, and hypertension.

Pharmacotherapy and Alcoholism

  • Disulfiram (Antabuse)–A pharmacotherapeutic medication used in the treatment of alcoholism is disulfiram (Antabuse). This medication makes people sick if they use alcohol while taking it. Because patients have to take disulfiram every day, compliance with this aversive medication is its major limitation. If they take disulfiram regularly, patients are unlikely to abuse alcohol because they will get sick. Disulfiram has been used particularly effectively with alcoholic opiate addicts who are maintained on methadone because they can take both the methadone and disulfiram together, and methadone compliance is very good. In other settings, observed daily ingestion of disulfiram can occur at places of employment or through treatment programs tied to probation, parole, or work release.
  • Naltrexone (Revia)–In 1995, the Federal Drug Administration approved a new indication for this medication in the treatment of alcoholism. Naltrexone has been previously used as an opioid antagonist in the treatment of opiate overdose and as an aid in opioid dependence. Previously known as Trexan®, the DuPont Merck Pharmaceutical Co. renamed it REVtA.

The primary indication of REViA in the treatment of alcoholism is to reduce the craving mechanism for alcohol. Several studies have indicated that with the use of naltrexone along with adjunct psychotherapeutic approaches (coping skills, relapse prevention, supportive therapy), relapse rates have declined at least in the short term (less than six months abstinence).

If you feel it’s time for an alcoholic intervention, contact one of our intervention counselors today.  They are here to take the time to listen, offer support and answer questions about the alcoholic intervention process.  We have been providing alcoholic interventions on addicts for over ten years.  Our Interventionists have a 90% success rate of getting your loved one to treatment following the alcoholic intervention.

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Our Intervention Counselors are available to help you understand our Intervention Process.

An Alcohol Intervention Can Help Save Your Loved One

Essentially each alcohol intervention is unique and after proper analysis and guidance, your professional intervention specialist will help you to determine when and what is the best approach.  Listed below we have provided additional information about intervention regarding alcohol.

Alcohol Abuse Intervention Facts

It isn’t surprising that we get a lot of requests from family members about information on an Alcohol Abuse Intervention.  Alcohol abuse and addiction are serious problems that are often denied by the alcoholic. Since alcohol plays a role in so many cultures as a natural part of celebrating or dining out, it is no surprise that some individuals start to depend on the relaxing effects of alcohol. Similar to other drugs, alcohol has the potential to devastate relationships and ruin lives. In some cases, alcohol abuse is daily, where a morning drink starts the day, but the alcoholic still manages to function and work.  In other cases, the alcoholic is a binge drinker, where they might be able to stay sober for days, weeks, or months, but once alcohol touches their lips…a binge for hours or days can ensue, often leading to wreckage and ruin.  Alcohol abuse intervention is one solution that family members can use to approach a family member in a caring and organized fashion to encourage them to start treatment.

An Alcohol Abuse Intervention is the First Step

In regards to an alcohol abuse intervention, a common question that families ask is “Am I overreacting?”  Because alcohol is so socially accepted, family members, look at the drinking as a phase that they hope will just disappear with time.  Unfortunately, for most, it doesn’t just disappear but gets worse.  How do you know if the time is right for an with a professional?  Many experts point to a good rule of thumb for determining alcohol addiction, basing the determination on whether drinking is causing a person to have problems at work or at home. In other words, if there are problems, then there is an alcohol problem.  It’s pretty simple.  This guideline provides a good way to draw the line between social drinking and problem drinking. As is true with any addict, the sooner the destructive behavior is stopped, the better for all concerned. There are certain signs that a person’s drinking has spiraled out of control. The following behaviors are a strong indication that a person’s drinking should be addressed and an alcohol abuse intervention may be necessary to get them the help they need.

Warning Signs an Alcohol Abuse Intervention is Needed

  • Feeling guilty about drinking
  • Experiencing blackouts, or periods of unaccountable time when there is no memory of what happened when drinking
  • Preoccupation about having enough alcohol on hand for personal use
  • Trying to curb the amount of alcohol consumed without success
  • Drinking alone
  • Hiding your drinking from friends or family members
  • Arguing with family members as the result of drinking
  • Trying to Stop drinking without success

Alcohol Abuse Intervention Early Stage vs Late Stage

The sad fact is that by the time many families reach out to us about an Alcohol Abuse Intervention, they have probably waited until it is much too late.  In other words, although a time for intervention is best early on in the abuse, many family members wait until the problem has shifted from abuse into chronic late stage alcoholism.  By then, the associated psychological and medical issues that begin to appear are so much greater than years before.  It is not uncommon for us to show up and intervene on someone who probably has less than a year to live because of their alcoholism.  For years, the family waited…and waited.  Had they intervened years before it would have never gotten to this point.  In later stages of alcoholism, the more negative consequences the alcoholic receives, the more they increase their drinking as a way to cope.  A tragic cycle that spirals rapidly out of control.  Intervening on a late-stage acute alcoholic is much more complex than someone in the earlier stages of alcohol abuse.

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Alcohol Abuse Intervention 101

The first step to take to help a family member or friend is to find a professional interventionist to plan and conduct the alcohol abuse intervention. It is very important to hire a trained professional to lead the intervention. Family members, friends, co-workers and other people important in the addict’s life are invited to participate. Prior to the intervention, the professional interventionist will hold a meeting to discuss the upcoming intervention and what can be expected. Participants are encouraged to rehearse what they plan to say. The interventionist will coach participants about keeping a cool head during this emotional meeting. The goal of an alcohol abuse intervention is to express concern and caring for the addict and to influence them to get help. Interventions are not always successful, but many of them save lives and relationships, helping alcoholics get the help they need.

Intervention Services has been providing alcohol abuse interventions for over 10 years and has the expert knowledge to help bring about recovery for your loved one, your family and you.

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