Every alcohol intervention presents an uncomfortable situation both for the alcoholic and for the family and friends involved with the event. Any number of things may go wrong: the alcoholic may get defensive or deny that there’s a problem, the conversation might get heated, people might begin to talk over one another, or things might get too emotional. If any of these problems arise, the most important thing is not to panic. Try to keep things calm and under control, and try these simple tips.

  • Stay calm: If everybody at the alcohol intervention loses control of their emotions, things will go downhill quickly. You can help prevent this by being the calm at the center of the storm. Don’t be provoked into raising your voice; instead, set a positive example for the others in the room.
  • Don’t blame: Of course, part of an intervention for an alcoholic involves letting he or she know what they have done to hurt people as a result of drinking, but this can be done without assigning blame or implying that the person has a moral failing. Approach the intervention with the knowledge that alcoholism is a disease, and try to blame the disease, not the person.
  • Take a timeout: If things get out of hand, don’t be afraid to stop the proceedings for a few minutes. It might be a little difficult to stop once the alcohol intervention gets momentum, but sometimes giving everyone a minute to calm down is all you need to get back on track.
  • Express your love and support: Even if the alcoholic gets very defensive, and even if he or she has hurt you in the past, make sure you emphasize that you are doing this out of love. The alcoholic may walk out of the situation feeling angry and embittered, but at least you will have planted a seed in his or her mind that help is out there. Don’t be surprised if there is a positive turnaround within a week or two.