The same people whose “enabling” actions allow the disease to flourish— and who may feel helpless to confront it— are the ones who can be most effective as interveners.
They don’t realize how effectively their actions are undermining their own goal: getting the addict into treatment.
It isn’t that big a challenge; you simply add a basic questionnaire on the subject to your intake paperwork.
The addict may have tried to control drinking or drug use many times, and failed. This experience leads him to conclude that he can’t change.
Involving the therapeutic team adds strength to the message and can speed the accomplishment of important goals.
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.
The way the “interven-ee” feels about the intervention changes a lot, from the beginning of the intervention, by the end of the intervention, during treatment and after, and years into recovery.
If we do nothing, the alcoholic person will probably wind up, at some point in the progression of addiction, in exactly the circumstances we fear.
Intervention can be quite dramatic (that’s why it makes for good TV), but it’s really the intelligent application of leverage that produces the desired result.