Seeing Life Through Another’s Eye

MarilynDavisatTIERSStarred Page By MarilynDavisatTIERS, 10th Sep 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Health>Recovery & Coping

“The mentality and behavior of drug addicts and alcoholics is wholly irrational until you understand that they are completely powerless over their addiction, and unless they have structured help, they have no hope.” ― Russell Brand

Can You See What We See?

Twenty-six years ago, I was working at a small southern college as a House Director and full-time student. I deflected criticism of my Xanax and alcohol use when individuals would ask me why I looked or acted a certain way. I would throw out my status as Dean’s List student and proudly proclaim that no one with a substance abuse problem would have a 3.9 GPA. This sidetracking of the issue typically ended the conversation about my use.

For many addicts and alcoholics, it is impossible to hear the care and concern when people talk about our use. We tend to hear the condemnation and become fearful of judgment or reprisals, so we defend our actions.

On September 30, 1988, five individuals collectively intervened on me. In retrospect, I would not make a good candidate for a TV intervention – I didn't throw a temper-tantrum or decide that their combined assessment of the situation was wrong. I knew that each of these individuals had tried to reach me and help me; however, it was not until they combined their information and became united that I had to look at my situation differently.

Why Interventions Work

The collective knowledge of the individuals will always be greater than the information and resolve of just one or two people working independently to get a person help.

With a group effort, there can be an emphasis on facts; not one or two isolated opinions. I know that when I saw five people with 4 x 6 cards ready to give me chapter and verse on my actions, I succumbed rather than face the humiliation of having my behaviors read to me. While I asked what they needed me to do and did not have to endure the embarrassment, giving in and working with a group does not always happen, yet it is a foreseeable outcome to a successful intervention; that the individual will be able to see their addiction in a more realistic light.

Who Participates in an Intervention?

The individuals who participate need to have a strong commitment to helping the individual and provide influence. Ask family, friends and co-workers if they are willing to participate in this effort. When selecting the individuals, some may have valuable information however; they are not in a position to hold fast to the proposed guidelines for non-compliance with the intervention. In other words, if the objective is to get the person into treatment that day, each participant must be willing to adhere to this and not rescue or enable the addict further. Without this level of commitment, the intervention team has a weak link that can directly or indirectly sabotage the purpose of the intervention.

Years later, my father stated that the college wanted him there for the intervention, thinking that I would acquiesce to their mandate that I enter treatment that night if my father made an emotional appeal to me. My father, on the other hand, realized that he would simply cave in and take me home if I looked distressed. Therefore, he chose not to participate.

A strategic interventionist can determine the weak links prior to the day of the intervention and skillfully redirect that person’s energies to another aspect of the endeavor.

Checklist for Participation in an Intervention


With planning and organization, an intervention can produce the desired outcome - help for the individual.

Everyone Has a Say – It’s Just Written

Interventions on family members or close friends are emotional. People feel concern, anger, fear and sometimes, guilt. When these emotions are present, it is easy to get sidetracked; therefore, each chosen member of the intervention writes a letter. There are also concerned and involved people who are not emotionally prepared to participate. Their letters are typically read by someone else to include their feelings and thoughts. There are several important distinctions in these types of letters:

1. Make sure that the person understands how much you care about them.

2. Tell them about your concerns for their welfare.

3. Remind them of how much you miss their participation in your life due to the addiction.

4. Tell them about the differences in the relationship and their participation in your life when they are using and when they are not using. Reinforce that you miss the times when they are not using.

5. Stress that you are asking them to get help and that you have a plan in place to facilitate that.

6. Outline the treatment plan after researching available options.

7. When possible, give alternatives that are equally acceptable. For instance, the choices might be to move home and participate in outpatient treatment for 12 weeks or enroll in a residential program for three months. Giving options can sometimes defuse the defenses of the addicted individual.

8. Be prepared to state that you will withhold any further assistance unless they get help for their addiction. Be specific to the type of help – financial, housing or transportation. However, you can reinforce that a withheld support will continue if they choose treatment, if that is feasible.

Beyond Family and Friends

While the intentions of the group are to facilitate help, there are some situations where the group will need a professional interventionist in working with a particular person. Does this individual have a history of:

• Mental Illness
• Violent tendencies
• Suicidal behaviors or has recently talked about suicide

When an Intervention Works

My intervention worked; I will be celebrating 26 years of abstinence-based recovery September 30, 2014. I am not an exception. However, without this structured well-thought out intervention, I would not have gotten the help I needed.

What If It Doesn’t Work?

Part of the difficulty in an intervention is that the individual may choose to walk away from receiving help. However, the family and friends will know that they did all that was possible to facilitate helping the individual.

Many times, when people realize that there was not condemnation and judgment, they will rethink their options and ask for help. While many members of the intervention are relieved, some compound the situation with an “I told you so” attitude if the person comes and asks for help after the intervention.

Rather than this, be grateful that your words, concern and planning worked.

National Recovery Month

September is National Recovery Month and if you have friends or a family member who would benefit from treatment, there will be celebrations nationwide. Sometimes people just have to know that others have been down that path before. When Marty Mann started NCADD in 1944, three ideas formed the basis of her message:

Alcoholism and addiction are diseases; that the addict is a sick person.
• The alcoholic or addict can be helped and is worth helping.
• Alcoholism and addiction are public health problem and therefore a public responsibility.


Marty’s Vision for NCADD centered on the following messages:

• To share the joy of recovery and knowledge
• To break down barriers of ignorance and stigma
• To encourage individuals, families, companies and communities to seek help



I know that the stigma still exists, and believe that by writing about my addiction and my recovery, that people will begin to understand how irrational we can be in our addiction and how often we need caring, concerned people to intervene.



For additional articles by Marilyn Davis

Each person has a unique voice and Wikinut is a place for you to share your wisdom, humor, insight and knowledge. Join, write and become connected to others who share a passion for writing, supporting one another, and learning on Wikinut.

Credits
Eye: www.pixabay.com
Word Cloud, Intervention Checklist, and Word Art: Images by Marilyn Davis

Tags

Addictive Behaviors Interventions, Alcohol Interventions, Celebrating Recovery, Drug Interventions, Help For A Drug Problem, Interventionists, Interventions, Substance Abuse Interventions

Meet the author

author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
A Certified Addiction Recovery Empowerment Specialist, with 25 years of abstinence-based recovery. I write about addictions, recovery, life lessons and general writing tips.

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Comments

author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
10th Sep 2014 (#)

Good afternoon, Steve, thank you for moderating and the Star. I've got a lot of catching up to do on my reading and commenting and you are on the list. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
10th Sep 2014 (#)

So proud of you. Your advice has helped me see my life more clearly -- thanks.

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
11th Sep 2014 (#)

Good afternoon, Phyl, thank you. I think that recovery and focusing on solutions has also helped me start framing other aspects of my life from a different perspective..anything I share about addiction and recovery, as you have pointed out, tends to have application in other aspects of life. Glad to have helped you and we will continue to help, support and promoted each other. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
11th Sep 2014 (#)

You got a lot of catching up and look at the masterpiece my dear Marylin, imagined if you were caught up, cheers!

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
11th Sep 2014 (#)

Good afternoon, Fern; love the poem that Mariah wrote about you. I smiled and grinned through the entire piece. You are certainly a valuable member of our community. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Helen Thomas
11th Sep 2014 (#)

This is just great. Thanks for sharing ~ Marilyn. Quite often those of us who say we 'walk by faith' are seemingly the worst in trying to help close family members in those situations. I think it is mainly because of the strong desire to see them get delivered. Part of the fear that the family member has ~ as you indicated ~ is that the individual may choose to walk away from receiving help.

However, the family and friends need to just know that they did all that was possible to help the individual.

I have learned that ~ in almost any area of life ~ when people realize that there is not condemnation and judgment, they will rethink their options and ask for help.

Abundant Blessings to you!

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
11th Sep 2014 (#)

Good afternoon, Helen; thank you. I know from working in the field for more than 20 years that sometimes people have to step away, reframe their expectations of outcomes, and simply do their best. I was proud of my father for knowing that he had to step away, and that was the best thing he could do that day. When we approach situations from love, that is all we can do. Again, thanks for your kind words and blessings to you, as well. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
11th Sep 2014 (#)

Everyone judges, they suppose, and assume, you cannot really know unless you have lived their life.

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
12th Sep 2014 (#)

Good morning, Mark; yes, we all have biases and make assumptions as well as judging; however, if an intervention is done from the standpoint of getting the person help, many are able to put aside their other thoughts and feelings and facilitate effectively. Thanks for your addition to the article. ~Marilyn

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author avatar snerfu
12th Sep 2014 (#)

To call a dog that has spots Spotty is also a kind of judgement, for the dog is unaware of its spots. Learning from your articles has introduced a feeling of "can do" and "will do" for me (I don't know about the others) and that makes it all worthwhile. Nice article Ms Davis.

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
12th Sep 2014 (#)

Good morning, Snerfu; I'm so pleased that my articles are encouraging - that has been much of my motivation for writing them. Thank you for the kind words, Snerfu. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Mariah
12th Sep 2014 (#)

Brilliantly written.. with such integrity and strength of character
TY Marilyn x

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
12th Sep 2014 (#)

Good morning, Mariah; thank you. Writing this one helped me remember how caring people can be even when they are showing us our worst. Without this intervention, I would not be where I am today. I've lost too many close friends to addiction, and hopefully my writing can encourage someone to take that first step - sometimes that is listening. Thanks for your support; means a lot to me. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Retired
12th Sep 2014 (#)

Thank you for this view, Marilyn. I lost a husband to addiction, he started hile in 'Nam. He would say how much he loved me and our children but he wouldn't give it up.I understand now what I couldn't back then.

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
13th Sep 2014 (#)

Good evening, Lavenderblu; I am sorry for the loss for you and the children. Although understanding may help the sitaution, I am sure it does not alleviate the loss. I appreciate your candor and comment. Thank you. ~Marilyn

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author avatar L. R. Laverde-Hansen
13th Sep 2014 (#)

You may not be an exception, but you are still exceptional. Glad to see how productive you've become.

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
13th Sep 2014 (#)

Good evening, L.R.; thank you for those kind words. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Denise Larkin
23rd Sep 2014 (#)

What an awful time you must have had. My brother died from being an alcoholic so I know how important it is to get help. We got him help 3 times where he stayed in a facility for a while to get the help he needed and it never stuck unfortunately. I am glad it helped yourself.

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
26th Oct 2014 (#)

Good evening, Denise; I am sorry for your loss. I did not see this until today. I am fortunate. ~Marilyn

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author avatar AjaySinghChauhan
25th Oct 2014 (#)

very intersecting post and thanks for sharing it with us.

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
26th Oct 2014 (#)

Good evening, Ajay; thank you for reading and commenting. ~Marilyn

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author avatar puncakceria
10th Dec 2014 (#)

Informative article. Thank you for sharing this.

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
10th Dec 2014 (#)

Good evening, puncakceria; I appreciate you reading several of my articles and taking the time to comment. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Sherri Granato
19th Dec 2014 (#)

Thanks for sharing such valuable information on a huge problem. Understanding addiction is one of the first steps in getting through it.

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
19th Dec 2014 (#)

Good evening, Sherri; I know many individuals who would benefit from a planned intervention. Unfortunately, families think that love is enough. If it was, my family would have reached me with their words. Instead it took others to get through to me. Thank you for commenting. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Retired
19th Nov 2015 (#)

And maybe even then...

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