Methods of intervention in alcoholism

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Methods of intervention in alcoholism

What is an intervention?

When a person is suffering from an addiction they are quite likely to be in denial about their dependence and are unlikely to seek help voluntarily. Previous attempts at discussing this with them may well have ended in an argument and defensive comments on their part. This is where an intervention comes in. It is a systematic process of conveying your feelings and worries in an effective manner, and in a way to make your loved one see their addiction clearly. By doing this you can successfully direct them into treatment.

Where to begin?

An addict can be unpredictable when pushed, so it's important for the people who know them best to be involved in the planning. By using your knowledge of the subject, you can discuss with a professional the best way in which to approach the individual and ensure the most positive outcome possible.

The Johnson Model

The Johnson model of intervention is a direct approach in which the addict isn't forewarned of the intervention. The Johnson Model can involve:

  • A pre-planned effort by a group of family and friends
  • Writing a letter to the addict describing in detail moments from the past in when their addiction has affected them
  • Calm explanation of the effects and realities of the addict's behaviour and the damage their addiction is causing
  • Motivating the addict to make positive changes to improve their life
  • Acceptance of treatment for their addiction problems.

Systemic family approach

A systemic approach is a family orientated intervention which works on changing the family dynamic to appropriately discourage the addict from continuing their destructive behaviour. Addictive behaviour can cause tension, suspicion, or anger for all members of a family. A systemic family approach commits the entire family to the healing process, to alter behaviours and receive therapy.

  • There are no secret meetings
  • The subject of the intervention is invited to be a part of the planning, along with a specialist
  • The whole family discusses the impact of the addiction
  • The addict is encouraged to go into treatment
  • The family continue to take part in formal therapy in order to learn more about addiction and to overcome it.


The ARISE (A Relational Intervention Sequence of Engagement) model of intervention is in three parts and focuses on family healing.

1) Meetings with a professional in the area. The subject of the intervention is invited, but isn't obliged to be there, and the family discuss the addiction, its effects, treatment options and why treatment is important.

2) The family can move forward if the individual agrees to treatment. The family can also work on stopping enabling the addict and how to support them.

3) Once the addict has completed a treatment programme the family can then concentrate on the recovery process, on their lifestyle, relationships, work, and more. This phase is then ongoing as they continue the healing and recovery process. By concentrating on everyone affected by the addiction, the ARISE model motivates everyone to change and support the overcoming of the addiction.

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