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Intervention and alcohol treatment - how do you know if someone needs intervention?

Published 18/02/2010

It is estimated that one in 17 people (6.4%) in Great Britain are alcohol dependent . Although alcohol dependence was once considered a problem associated with middle age, this is no longer the case. In fact a report by the Department of Health has shown that alcohol dependence is now highest in women between the ages of 16-24 and men between the ages of 25-34. So what is the definition of alcohol dependence and what can be done to encourage a person dependent on alcohol to seek help?

Sue Allchurch, director of Linwood Group, a leading provider of alcohol treatment facilities, explains further: "Alcohol dependence is characterised in a person by their increased tolerance to the effects of alcohol, the presence of characteristic withdrawal signs and symptoms, and impaired control over the quantity and frequency of their drinking. A person moving towards alcohol dependency will drink even when they know it is not safe and at levels way above the safe limits and their blood tests would show signs of dangerous drinking. They may have already experienced difficulties at work, home or even with the police. When a person reaches this stage, it is vital that they are encouraged to admit and confront their drinking, before it is too late."

So, what can be done to encourage a person to get the help they so desperately need? The first stage will be some form of intervention by family, friends or a trained professional. Alcohol addiction intervention is very often a key first step on a person's road to recovery. Realisation that there is even a problem is vital if a person is going to be able to see that their drinking is out of control and that they need help. It is common for a person dependent on alcohol to deny that they have a problem when confronted and to blame, become angry, play the victim or use fear to avoid admitting the reality of the situation. This is where a professional interventionist can play a vital part in getting an addict to face the truth about their addiction.

Here are some things to keep in mind for those beginning to think about planning some sort of the path of alcohol treatment and intervention:

Who to invite? Choose a selection of people closest to the person being challenged. This doesn't have to just be family members, but can include best friends or significant others in their lives (it is recommended that children not be included). Avoid including friends or family struggling themselves with addictions, or those who could potentially prove untrustworthy with the details of the intervention to others.

When and where? Try and arrange for the alcohol treatment intervention to take place somewhere the person goes to often. As it is best to try and time the intervention for shortly after a person's last bout of drinking has occurred, the home is usually the most practical location. Remember, an intervention can be very emotional, so the venue should be chosen with this in mind.

What needs to be said? Be specific. Use examples of the ways that the person's drinking is impacting on you and the rest of the family and friends and include the latest incident as a prime example.

Be clear on the next step. You need to make it obvious to your loved one what you will do if they refuse to seek help for their addiction.

Know your options. Gather information in advance about the type of help available so you can immediately book an appointment for them with a treatment counsellor or GP if they agree to get help.

Strength in numbers. If they refuse to get help, ask one of their most respected friends or family members to talk to them and reiterate the steps you have already outlined.

Professional help? The benefit of having someone involved in the intervention who is professionally trained is that they are not emotionally tied to the situation, so can keep the process on track, steering a person towards the end goal of agreeing to get help. They are trained to handle any issues that arise during an intervention and can also escort the person to alcohol rehabilitation treatment then and there if required.

So if you need to begin the process of intervention and alcohol treatment for a loved loved one but don't know where to begin, why not seek confidential, professional advice from the Linwood Group on Freephone 0800 066 4173 (or if you are calling from a mobile phone or from overseas, call +441226 698 054)?


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