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INTERVENING TO MAKE THE ADDICT SEEK HELP

It is very unusual for addicts or alcoholics to seek help unless there is no other alternative. The people most able to force them to look at their drug or drink problem are family, friends or employers.

The inability of alcoholics or addicts even to recognise that they need help is called 'denial'. To put it simply, denial is an attitude that 'My drinking or drug-taking is not really that bad!'

In fact, those around them can see that their behaviour is obviously progressively more disastrous. The solution is to use a crisis that the drinking or drug-taking has created, so that they have no alternative but to seek help. This is called intervention and it is best done in a caring but firm manner. Here are three examples of intervention.

  1. After a crisis, a wife may say to her husband: 'I love you, Michael, but unless you do something about your drinking, I am going to see a solicitor. If you accept treatment, though, I'll support you all the way.'
  2. After a crisis with her addicted daughter, a mother may say: 'Unless you get help with your addiction, you will have to leave home. Go to Narcotics Anonymous or get into treatment.'
  3. At work, the boss or the personnel manager can have the alcoholic in and relate the history .of his deterioration in job performance. 'Tom, you were once a valued and trusted employee,' he may say. 'I know you can be that again if you seek help for your drinking problem. Otherwise we can't keep you. You have had numerous warnings and this is the last.'

In each case there must be a commitment to follow through. If the alcoholic or addict does not get help, then the wife must see the solicitor, the mother must make her daughter leave home and the personnel manager must dismiss the employee. Otherwise the options become meaningless.

It must be made clear that abstinence is the expected goal, and that a change to more responsible behaviour must also occur through treatment or through involvement in the self-help groups of Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous.

In our experience, despite the fact that the alcoholic or addict is forced to seek help, the outcome is usually successful. It is common to hear later from the recovering person: 'If only someone had forced me to face this years ago, I wouldn't have wasted so much of my life or hurt so many people.'

One of the most tragic aspects of this illness is that the drinking alcoholic or drug-using addict will only grudgingly accept help when there is no other choice.

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WHAT MAKES AN ADDICT DECIDE TO STOP?

Let's pause here and consider why addicts decide to stop using drugs and get well. Such a decision isn't an easy one for them. Addicts fear withdrawal and they cannot conceive of a life without drugs. So why do they stop taking drugs?

STOP HELPING THE ADDICT STAY ILL...

LET THE ADDICT SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES...

INTERVENING TO MAKE THE ADDICT SEEK HELP...

LETTING THE ADDICT KNOW HOW YOU FEEL...