It is important to understand that each substance abused does require a different approach in terms of the interventionist. Each intervention is handled according to what substance your teen or young adult is addicted to and what type of detox and treatment will be required for recovery.
Alcohol is technically a drug, however, most people put alcohol into it’s own category. Refer to an alcoholic as a drug addict and see the reaction. Due to the legality and social acceptability of alcohol we generally refer to those addicted to mood altering substances as either an “alcoholic” or a “drug addict”. In dealing with an alcoholic we generally have two types of people needing an alcohol interventionist, each of which is dealt with in a different way.
The first type of alcoholic is the “binge type” alcoholic. This is someone who usually doesn’t drink everyday and may even go for months without a drink. However, once alcohol enters their system…one leads to another and another. This type of alcoholic often baffles the family member. He seems to be fine, everything is ok and then the worst happens again. He may even be trying not to drink, may have promised never to drink again, but there he goes again. And, unfortunately, it seems that with each binge the behaviors worsen. Sometimes getting into fights, passing out, or driving drunk, his behaviors while drunk are completely different to his personality while sober. He may even be the nicest guy in the world, but give him a drink and watch what happens. It’s almost as if there are two personalities. This type of alcoholic takes longer for a family member to become concerned enough to consider an alcohol intervention. Usually what happens is that after a binge the family is quite concerned, however, they fall back once again into the hope that perhaps things will be different this time. It commonly takes either a long series of ever worsening binges or such extreme behaviors during the binge for the family to become willing to conduct an alcohol intervention. The sad reality with binge drinkers is that statistically they are in greater danger than the “daily drinker”, and are often confronted less often…usually only after a binge.
The difficulty of doing an alcohol intervention on a binge drinker is one of timing. If an alcohol intervention is conducted on a binge drinker who hasn’t had a drink in 6 months, there is a higher degree of difficulty in convincing the alcoholic that although sober right now, he still has an un handled problem and without some degree of therapy will probably drink again. Ideally, an alcohol intervention for a binge drinker should be conducted within months of his last binge.
The second type of alcoholic is the “daily drinker”. As the name implies, a daily drinker is someone who rarely goes without alcohol for long. There are different stages of the daily drinker. Generally this begins as someone who has a 6 pack or a martini every night after work. Later this quantity might increase and as the amount and duration increases, the daily drinker might need to have an occasional drink throughout the evening when his sleep patterns become interrupted. A later stage involves the daily drinker awakening with the need to have a drink to “stop the jitters”. At this point in his alcoholism, the alcoholic has begun to become physically dependant on the alcohol and may even have seizures, delusions or tremors if he goes without alcohol for too long. The last and final stage of a daily drinker is the need to constantly ingest alcohol. To go without alcohol for any length can even result in death at this point. The irony being if he continues to drink in the same duration and quantity then he will surely die from alcohol relation symptoms…if he quits abruptly without medical supervision he will probably die from a seizure or heart failure.
The difficulty of doing an alcohol intervention on a daily drinker is also in the timing, however this is a timing of minutes or hours and not days or months like with the binge drinker. To conduct an alcohol intervention on a daily drinker in the morning prior to his first drink will usually result in his attention being solely on his first drink, major agitation, tremors and possible seizures. If we wait too late in the day he may be too severely intoxicated and unable to process the intervention.
Essentially each alcohol intervention is unique and after proper analysis and guidance your professional intervention specialist will help you to determine when and what is the best approach.