Staging an Alcohol Intervention

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration recommends a two-drink limit per day for alcohol consumption. Data collected by Harvard Health Publications show an estimated one third of Americans exceed this limit on a daily basis. Alcohol consumption at three drinks or more per day falls under the “problem drinker” classification. Most all alcohol-related problems, such as accidents, injuries and family dysfunction result from the problem drinker type.

More oftentimes than not, the problem drinker doesn’t see alcohol as a problem, which makes him or her that less likely to seek alcohol addiction treatment. For these reasons, staging an alcohol intervention may be the only way to help him or her get needed treatment. Most of the work involved with staging an alcohol intervention takes place at the planning stage with certain conditions and considerations to keep in mind.


Bringing an alcohol problem to the forefront and helping an addict understand his or her drinking needs to be dealt with is the overall purpose for staging an alcohol intervention. Proper planning and preparation can go a long way towards creating the type of verbal exchange that motivates a person to seek help. Preparation for an alcohol intervention includes the following steps:

  • Seek professional help and/or assistance
  • Assemble friends, family, colleagues and anyone else who holds importance in the person’s life
  • Rehearse the intervention beforehand
  • Make admission arrangements with a treatment facility
intervention for drugs and alcohol

When done right, an intervention can save someone’s life.

Enlisting the help of an alcohol intervention specialist can take much of the guesswork out of deciding whether to stage an alcohol intervention, who to include and how to proceed. Ultimately, the message communicated to the addict during an alcohol intervention should let him or her know how much you care about them and how their drinking affects the people in attendance.


During an alcohol intervention, emotions can run high and the situation can easily fly out of control. Setting certain agreed upon conditions beforehand can prevent the intervention from taking a bad turn. Set limits in terms of certain consequences the person will meet if he or she refuses to get treatment. For example, requiring him or her to live elsewhere or a pending job loss may be suitable consequences.

Never start an intervention when the person is under the influence as impaired thinking processes will hamper his or her overall judgment abilities. It’s also important not to stage an alcohol intervention when you’re upset so as to avoid diverting from the original plan. Also, avoid using sensitive labels, such as “addict” or “alcoholic.”


Before considering a staged alcohol intervention, it never hurts to try having a less formal, one-on-one conversation with the person about his or her drinking. While this may not work, it does show a sign of respect for the other person’s dilemma in terms of trying to work it out in a less confrontational manner. Only after attempting a one-on-one discussion should an actual staged intervention be considered.

Many people who do decide to enter treatment did so in response to pressure from family and friends. For many alcoholics, a staged intervention provides the necessary first step towards acknowledging alcohol as a problem and getting needed treatment help.