7 tips on alcoholism intervention

For friends or family, alcoholism intervention can be scary. I speak from experience and offer tips on alcoholism intervention and how to present your concerns to a friend or loved one about possible alcoholism.

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Alcoholism intervention how to guide


1. Choose the right time – set aside 30 minutes to an hour to talk to your friend. Also, make sure that your friend is sober when you address your concerns. Don’t plan an intervention when your friend has been drinking. It won’t go over well.
2. Don’t go alone – Interventions can be more powerful when two or three friends address the same concern.

3. Be neutral – Take a very objective tone. Let the person know that you are concerned and talk about very specific details of their behavior.

4. Be specific – Jot down some notes, or have at least two or three examples of potential alcoholic behaviors. This is to present data to your friend, and to help her overcome denial.

5. Be kind – Tune in to your friend’s need and show compassion. It doesn’t help to accuse. Rather, present your concerns and data, and then allow time for feedback.

6. Listen – Take time to ask your friend what she thinks and feels. You will need feedback to know what to do next.

7. Have a plan – Look into treatment options for your friend so that you can suggest next steps. Maybe there is free campus counseling that you can help her set up. Or look into community resources.


Got some other tips for us?  Post them here.
Having trouble with a friend of loved one’s drinking?  You are not alone.  Let us know and we’ll try to point you in the right direction.

About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.


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  1. I’m glad you talked about being kind by tuning into your friend’s need and showing compassion. I remember when my aunt was in need of assistance in this manner. Thank you for the tips on alcohol addiction intervention and how it’s not helpful to accuse and is better to present concerns and allow feedback.

  2. My 50 something boyfriend is an alcoholic and recently spent 16 days in the hospital for an infection. Ulitimately he detoxed while he was there got released and within a week started drinking again. 2 days after returning to work he was fired. He told me again that he is done with drinking and again I believed him. I thought finally he had hit his bottom line. Well 48 hours and no drink, GREAT. then today right back to it. We had plans with a group for dinner but I went without him only to come home to him with bleeding knees and a injury to his shoulder. He fell coming in the front door. he tried to blame me as usual saying he was depressed because I went without him.I know these are just excuses to take the guilt away from himself how do I handle this every time he blames me. I know its not me its his choice. he chose to go before dinner and he chose to go after I went without him.

  3. This reminds me of an analogy that I use quite often with my clients. When talking with the parents of addicts, I often ask them to view their child’s addiction as a house fire. I then ask them to tell me how large that fire is. I ask them if they would compare it to a toaster in the kitchen that has a flame coming out? Or are flames shooting out of every window and the roof is collapsing?

    This gives them perspective. About 90% of the time, they say that the flames are shooting out of every window. I then ask them, if this were happening to your house, wouldn’t you put down the garden hose and call 911?

    The addict can’t see the fire. Or has convinced themselves that the fire is no harm to them. Many families find themselves standing on the front lawn screaming at the top of their lungs for their loved one to come outside. Meanwhile the addict is lying on the couch saying, “what is the big deal? I don’t see a fire”.

    At some point, the family has to take action. Many family members don’t want to hurt the addict’s feelings or muddy up the family waters. This is very common. Kicking the door in and pulling your loved one out of a collapsing inferno by their hair may very well cause a bit of conflict at first. Generally it won’t be for a couple of weeks, after the addict is sober for a while, that they will see that fire for what it was. It is then that they will thank you with all that they have for stepping up and possibly saving their life.

  4. If someone is not willing to accept help the only other option addiction an addiction intervention. I will tell you there is not one addict out there that enjoys being addicted. Sometime the path to recovery must be illuminated.

  5. I like the idea of including a sports/exercise element to helping people in addiction; but perhaps this is better as a lifestyle change to address after an in or outpatient certified program?

  6. This is a working strategy I believe. I’ve been to a campus, teaching college students and secondary level students on how to leave vices such smoking and alcohols. Your blog “Addiction Blog” is very nice, it help a lot of readers, I know I believe that someone was changed already by reading this blog. I would like to add like alternatives.. Prepare alternative sports or other activities that includes the person. This is in addition to “don’t go alone” points that you are sharing here.

    Thanks and keep going!

  7. Another suggestion is to have some of the recent brain and addiction-related research on hand — helping a person “see” (via brain scans and simplified science explanations) the chemical and structural changes caused by alcohol abuse and/or alcoholism can help a friend better appreciate that it is those brain changes that interfere with their ability to think straight, behave normally and act responsibly. That understanding may help them better accept that the only “cure” is to reduce alcohol consumption in the case of alcohol abuse and to stop all together in the case of alcoholism.

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