The prevailing thought among addiction recovery specialists used to be that an alcoholic had to ‘bottom-out’ before he or she would be willing to seek or accept help. However, over the last decade or so experts have realised that intervention is the best and most successful way to encourage an individual to seek help. Middlegate fully supports alcohol intervention when it is done properly.


For purposes of definition, an intervention can be described as a series of strategies and actions designed to help the alcoholic come to terms with his or her dependence in a way that motivates them to seek help. There are between five and seven steps depending on the intervention model followed.

Intervention Basics

The first thing to know about alcohol intervention is that it should not be undertaken without the help and advice of an experienced addiction counsellor. Going about the process improperly could do more harm than good, and that’s certainly something you want to avoid.

Second, an intervention can be undertaken by a family after they received the proper advice or, if they prefer, with the help of a professional in an office setting or at home. Both options are viable. That being said, some alcoholics would be more accepting of the intervention if only family members and friends attend it.

The Components of Intervention

Below is a list of the most common components of an intervention. Regardless of how many steps you will be using in your intervention, most of these components will be part of the process.

  • End Enabling – One of the saddest aspects of alcohol dependence is that family and friends often enable the alcoholic. How? By making excuses for them, by allowing them to come and go as they please, by helping them out of uncomfortable situations, etc. An intervention will not succeed if family continues to enable the individual.
  • Accountability – For any intervention to work family and friends must establish consequences for failure to yield. Furthermore, those consequences must be carried out; otherwise, they become meaningless threats that only encourage the alcoholic to continue drinking. Consequences should be presented not as punishment to the alcoholic but protection of family and friends.
  • Presenting Reality – The intervention should include a discussion of how the alcoholic’s behaviour is having a negative impact on others. This should not be sugar-coated or dressed up nicely. The alcoholic needs to know reality – he or she needs to know how destructive their behaviour is in the lives of other people.
  • Supportive Attitude – It is important for those involved in an intervention to show that they support the alcoholic and truly want to see him or her get the help they need. An intervention should not be 60 minutes of condemnation, accusations, and so on.
  • Responsiveness – Family members and friends involved in an intervention need to be sensitive to the responsiveness of the alcoholic. When he or she asks questions like, “How much is this going to cost?” they are likely not being defensive even if it sounds that way. They are asking because they are giving real thought to the possibility of seeking help. Reassure the alcoholic that the answers to their questions will come when they get in touch with an organisation like Middlegate.
  • Family Support – The idea of strength in numbers applies very well to alcohol intervention. Do not try to do this alone. Gather as many friends and family members as possible who might be willing to attend. Throughout the process, lean on one another for encouragement and support.

An alcohol intervention is one of the best ways to encourage an alcoholic loved one or friend to seek the help he or she needs. Middlegate can advise you and, in some cases, even assist you in conducting an intervention.