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How to Stage an Alcohol Intervention

Last Updated: October 19, 2023

Editorial Policy | Research Policy

When someone is struggling with alcohol use disorder, an alcohol intervention can be the first step in helping them overcome addiction.

Alcohol addiction can devastate those who are addicted and their loved ones. Consequences include damaged relationships, legal troubles and declines in health. When faced with a loved one struggling with alcohol misuse, it’s essential to address the issue with compassion and support. This is where alcohol intervention comes into play. 

What Is Alcohol Intervention?

An alcohol intervention is a planned process where family, friends and often a professional talk to someone about their drinking problem. The goal is to help the person realize they need help and to encourage them to get it. It’s a caring approach that focuses on the person’s health and happiness, intending to break the cycle of addiction.

When Is Alcohol Intervention Needed?

Alcohol intervention is needed when a person’s drinking starts to cause problems in their life and the lives of those around them. Signs that an intervention might be needed include:

  • Not taking care of responsibilities
  • Getting into legal trouble
  • Having problems in relationships
  • Health issues caused by drinking
  • Inability to control drinking or unsuccessful attempts to quit

How Does Alcohol Intervention Work?

Alcohol intervention involves several steps:

  1. Planning stage: Recognize the need for intervention and carefully plan the process to ensure its effectiveness.
  2. Gathering information: Understand the extent of the person’s drinking problem and research available treatment options to prepare for objections.
  3. Forming the intervention team: Assemble a team of close family members and friends who are trusted and respected by the person and, ideally, a professional interventionist.
  4. Deciding on specific consequences: Determine potential consequences if the person refuses treatment, such as limiting contact or financial support.
  5. Making notes on what to say: Each team member should prepare nonjudgmental, specific statements that express concern for the person’s well-being.
  6. Holding the intervention meeting: Conduct the intervention, where the team talks to the person about their drinking and urges them to accept treatment, maintaining a calm and supportive atmosphere.
  7. Following up: Provide support and follow-up after the intervention as the person begins their journey to recovery.

The Role of Professional Interventionists

Professional interventionists play a crucial role in the intervention process. They can help handle difficult situations, manage resistance and guide the discussion. They also assist in planning the intervention and choosing the best treatment options. Since professional interventionists are trained in understanding addiction and its treatment, they can help the intervention process to be more successful. 

Alcohol Intervention Models

Different intervention models are available based on the person’s needs:

  • Crisis Intervention: This is used when immediate action is required, especially in life-threatening situations, such as an overdose or serious motor vehicle accident.
  • Brief Intervention: A short, one-on-one counseling session to focus on changing drinking behavior, commonly used in healthcare settings.
  • The Johnson Model: This model involves a team of loved ones planning a confrontation during which they meet with the person and express their concern about the person’s drinking.
  • ARISE (A Relational Intervention Sequence for Engagement): ARISE focuses on the entire family and encourages the person to seek treatment without confrontation or ultimatums.
  • SMART (Self Management and Recovery Training): SMART utilizes techniques to help people manage their drinking.
  • Family Systemic Intervention: This intervention involves the whole family and aims to change the family dynamic to support the person’s recovery.

Potential Outcomes for Alcohol Intervention

The outcome of an intervention can vary. The person might accept the need for treatment and agree to get help or deny the problem and refuse treatment. Regardless of the immediate outcome, interventions often plant the seed for future recovery. If the person who is the subject of the intervention refuses treatment, it is important for family members to maintain boundaries, such as refusing to give the person money. Holding firm boundaries can encourage the person to seek treatment. 

Get Help for Your Loved One Today

If someone you care about is struggling with alcohol use, don’t wait to get help. An intervention could be the first step toward recovery. Reach out to a professional interventionist or a local treatment center, such as The Recovery Village Atlanta, to discuss your options.

The Recovery Village Atlanta offers a range of treatment options for someone who has agreed to enter treatment after an alcohol intervention. We can provide residential care, partial hospitalization programming and intensive outpatient services. Contact our Recovery Advocates today to get started.


Law, Jerry L. “Intervention: The First Step to Recovery from Addiction.” March 31, 2017. Accessed August 11, 2023. 

Association of Intervention Specialists. “What is an Arise Intervention?” May 24, 2017. Accessed August 11, 2023.