Why are Interventions necessary?

The most frustrating aspect of dealing with an addict or alcoholic is their denial. Simply stated, the alcohol and the drugs give the user a faulty memory. But it is their memory and they rely on it. This faulty memory, called euphoric recall, coupled with denial that is normal in all illnesses, makes it almost impossible for the addict or alcoholic to see a need for outside help.


When Should I Intervene?

Over the years, many people have asked “When should I intervene?” Often these comments were preceded by statements such as the ones set out below. While there is no one certain answer, here are some of my replies to these questions and comments.

1. “I don’t want to enable them… , if I intervene with them isn’t that enabling?”

The answer is NO! Helping a sick person get treatment is not enabling. Helping a person to stay sick, by resolving their chemically related problems such as covering for them or paying their bills, without getting treatment is enabling.

2. “What if he/she gets angry.”

Anger is a natural defense used by the addict or alcoholic. If you look at the record, you will find that the person you are concerned about has gotten angry whether you spoke about the drinking or drug use, or did not speak about it. Better to have them be angry and thinking about recovery, than angry and drinking.

3. “I don’t think they are ready.”

There is no way to know if a person is ready to get help, but what is certain, is the fact that if they get exposed to the need for help, they are not very unlikely to ever recover.

4. “I’ve always heard that they have to hit bottom first.”

The problem with this notion is that no one knows what “bottom” is. What is known is that the sooner a person gets treatment, the more likely they are to recover. Early recovery means they are more likely to have a family, career, and health to make recovery more desirable.

5. “I don’t want to label him/her an addict or alcoholic.”

The good news about Intervention is that you don’t need to diagnose a person. Much the same as if you see a person in need of CPR. You respond to what you see, and get them into a proper treatment setting so the experts can do the diagnosis.