It’s an essential truth that people with alcoholism think about changing for a long, long time before they seriously attempt it. They’re ambivalent about change, and struggle to make up their minds. It’s as if there’s a balance scale in their heads that somehow isn’t yet balanced in favor of action.
One key to successful intervention is to take advantage of this existing motivation. Let’s begin with a simple inventory. To how many of these could you answer ‘YES’ about your loved one with alcoholism?
- Has already expressed on at least one occasion a desire to drink less.
- Has exhibited awareness that drinking is a problem (even if s/he doesn’t think it’s serious).
- Has expressed general dissatisfaction about the current state of his/her life.
- Has already made some effort to change his/her behavior for the better, even if it didn’t last.
- Has indicated that s/he thinks s/he might have a drinking problem.
- Has improved for a while before slipping back into problem drinking.
- Has acknowledged at least some concern about the effects of her/his drinking on others (such as children or family).
- Has expressed general concern about her/his health, even if not specifically related to drinking.
- Has expressed concern about the effect of drinking on her/his ability to work or function.
- Has already sought advice from others about her/his drinking, even if he didn’t follow it.
A ‘yes’ response to two of ten indicates that your alcoholic loved one is already considering change. The more ‘yes’ responses, the more seriously s/he’s considered it. That’s to our benefit.
With planning and preparation, we can take advantage of the positive motivation that already exists.