Drug Addiction Intervention Strategies
When someone we love is destroying themselves with drugs, alcohol, and destructive behavior, we can be desperate to get them into effective drug addiction treatment. Often, the first step to successful drug rehab is intervention. Debra Jay, a well-known professional interventionist and an Oprah favorite, offers a personal and concrete approach to preparing for an intervention when someone we love is destroying themselves with drug addiction or alcoholism. In her book, No More Letting Go: The Spirituality of Taking Action Against Alcoholism and Drug Addiction, Jay “personifies” the addiction, separating it from the person inflicted and referring to it as a powerful third party intruding upon our interactions with the addict we love:
Whether we realize it or not, we are continually negotiating with the addicts and alcoholics in our lives. Negotiation is our attempt to reach agreement or solve a problem. But most families are poorly prepared to negotiate with an addiction and end up losing to the addiction. We forget that it is the addiction doing the negotiating in an attempt to protect itself.
She then goes on to define the five typical negotiating styles we might find in a family challenged by drug addiction or alcohol dependence:
Reading her descriptions makes me wonder if she’s been spying on my family Thanksgivings.
“Adversaries are the addictions themselves. They take a defensive stance in an attempt to protect the addiction and avoid pain. The thought process is that addiction is a solution, and attempts to handle it are not help, but attack.
Aggressors are those convinced that their approach toward handling the addict is the best . They commonly try to bully the addict into sobriety and control the family’s approach. They frequently create more problems and friction within the family, making a handling increasingly difficult.
Appeasers try to smooth over the current crisis, often at the expense of an ultimate resolution. They tend to submit to the addict’s threats while trying to convince themselves that the situation is improving. Appeasers tend to lose the respect of others while settling for an increasingly difficult life.
Avoiders ignore problems and conflict. When a negotiation or fight surfaces, they leave. They make family communication and intervention difficult as they provide no support. They live with increasing fear and isolation.
Analysts try to understand and explain. The risk with this approach is that they tend to delve into explaining the problem rather than confronting it. They often search for the root cause and end up mired in logic that does nothing to handle the situation. Over time, they will tend to become increasingly emotionally detached.”
Jay suggests that before organizing an intervention, each of us takes the time to identify which style(s) we tend to use (I’m multi-lingual in all five). She asks us to set aside our favored style in order to adopt a new style of negotiation: that of ambassador. And here’s where she really personifies the disease in order to cut through its crap:
“Ambassadors are able to operate outside the addiction’s sphere of influence. They understand the difference between the addiction and the addict and do not grant the voice of the addiction any power. Instead, they come from a position of love and direct their intention toward the person behind the addiction while keeping the ultimate goal at the forefront.”
I cried when I first read that. Somehow, for me, Jay’s simple concept of ambassador melts anger and resentment and defensiveness. It brings dignity and recognition to our loved one struggling with addiction. As an approach to intervention for drug addiction, it lights a path home to hope.
Republished with permission from www.whenweloveanaddict.com. Copyright 2016