Many times, the friends and family members of someone abusing alcohol may try to stage an intervention without professional advice and assistance. Although they have good intentions, these attempts often wind up doing more harm than good, sometimes even leading to violent confrontations. If you feel your friend or family member might benefit from an alcohol intervention, you should always turn to a professional interventionist for help.
Although individuals who are abusing alcohol often think they can quit whenever they want, the statistics show they are deluding themselves. Even if your loved one is an alcoholic and happens to be one of the few people who has the willpower and determination to stop drinking on their own, they can still run the risk of dangerous side effects. If they don't agree to go to a professional medical detox facility, the withdrawal symptoms can result in possible delusions, seizures, and even death. A professional intervention should be considered mandatory to ensure that your loved one doesn’t further injure themselves in a misguided attempt to save money or time by not getting the professional help they need.
Another common belief among alcoholics is that they are only hurting themselves, or that it is no one else’s business how much or how often they drink. This is, however, a completely false assumption. As the loved one of an alcoholic, you know how much of an emotional toll someone’s unhealthy drinking habits can take on everyone around them. Additionally, alcoholics have alarmingly high rates of drunk driving, assault, rape, child abuse, murder, and suicide. Even cutting yourself off personally from an alcoholic may not shield you from the impact of their behavior as it ripples through the larger community. Helping them is a way of protecting everyone from the potentially disastrous consequences of their drinking.
Alcoholics tend to fall into two broad categories that are very different from one another: binge drinkers and everyday drinkers. Each of these types has very serious problems with alcohol which manifest quite differently, and each type also faces their own set of unique challenges to recovery and tends to require a very different intervention technique.
Binge drinkers usually don’t drink every day and can frequently go for long periods without even touching alcohol. But when they do start drinking, they lose any semblance of self-control and can act like a completely different person while under the influence of alcohol. They may drink until they pass out, drive while drunk, get into fights, or be verbally abusive to loved ones or friends.
Binge drinkers are rarely on the receiving end of an intervention from family or friends because of the infrequency of their binges and the fact that their personality, at least while sober, is usually amiable enough that no one can even think to accuse them of having a drinking problem. If confronted about their habits, they will likely promise to quit or slow down their drinking after a binge, and often do, only to go on another even more destructive binge in the future. Because of this, binge drinkers can actually be the most destructive type of alcoholic, both to themselves and those around them.
The binge drinker’s ability to “quit” drinking for extended periods of time can also make them very resistant to seeking treatment for their problem, particularly if some time has passed since their last binge. Friends and family members seeking to stage an intervention for such an individual are usually more successful if they confront the binge drinker immediately after one of their binge drinking episodes.
The everyday drinker, unlike the binge drinker, can rarely go without alcohol even for a short period of time. Although they may begin by simply having “a few drinks” every night after work, the everyday drinker will scale up to increasingly larger amounts of alcohol more frequently throughout the day. As their daily consumption increases, their bodies become physically dependent upon alcohol, and they will eventually develop “the shakes,” a slang term for the clinical condition known as delirium tremens, if they go without alcohol for even a short period. In addition to delirium tremens, they can also experience seizures or even death if they stop consuming alcohol entirely for any length of time.
The nature of this physical dependence on alcohol, as well as the seriousness of potential withdrawal symptoms, makes a professional, medically supervised solution particularly critical for the daily drinker. Therefore, it is especially important that the intervention for an everyday drinker is performed with the advice and participation of a professional. Even the time of day can be crucial for a successful alcohol intervention with an everyday drinker. If you approach them before their first drink of the day, you risk being drowned out by the agony of their withdrawal symptoms; if you approach them later in the day, they may be too inebriated to be understand what is at stake.
If your loved one has a serious drinking problem, you need to get involved, and the best way to do that is by scheduling a professional alcohol intervention today with us at the National Intervention for Drugs and Alcohol. We can help your loved one see that they need to accept professional help so they can get better not just for themselves, but for everyone that loves them. Contact us anytime 24/7 toll-free to start your loved one on the path to recovery.