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SamIAm's avatar

Anyone have experience staging an intervention?

Asked by SamIAm (8633 points ) February 23rd, 2011

It’s a long story and I’m tired and it’s late. But basically, this family “vacation” has, once again, turned into pure hell.

I’ve spent the past hour+ on the phone with a hotline to help me figure out what to do and he had some very helpful advice. I need to get my mother into rehab… like, tomorrow. We may never all be together as a family again (we’re visiting her father, and we haven’t all been together in 8 years at least). I can’t wait for someone to send me a professional. I need to try to get the family to talk to her and get her into treatment ASAP. We all head back home (I’m 3,000 miles away from her and the rest of the family) this weekend so I’m really short on time.

Today was a disaster. Just like the past 24 years have been, just like every vacation has been. I can’t let my little sister suffer through this anymore; I can’t take it anymore.

I know this isn’t very detailed but if there’s any advice you can share before morning it would be much appreciated. It’s been a rough night and I want to get this all organized first thing in the morning before she wakes up.

FYI, With the help of this professional at the hotline, I have found a place that seems like it would be very fitting for her… I need to discuss funds with my grandfather before I can go ahead and arrange anything. We are also waiting to hear back from the insurance company. The last time I approached my grandpa, he basically told me I was lying and cut me off because I wouldn’t support her. We had a moment tonight and I hope that he finally realizes what is going on. This is my last attempt. I don’t know what else to do. It’s exhausting and so painful.

I just need some guidance. :/

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6 Answers

Jeruba's avatar

I have experience being part of one, yes; leading it (orchestrating, staging), no.

In your desperate situation, I will take a chance on telling you what worked—even though this is no substitute for the skill and experience of a pro. Also I have never seen the TV show. I don’t want to steer you wrong, but I’m not sure there’s a downside from where you are right now.

Our intervention specialist (D) explained his philosophy: to create a crisis that would raise the person’s bottom rather than leaving him to crash all the way. Let’s call the person G.

He set a purpose: to get G to agree to sign himself into rehab. The aim was to get G to say yes and then go get in the car with D.

D told us his approach, and this is what he followed: we would all get together around the table, and we would bring G in on some pretext, and then D would say to G that his family is very concerned about him and ask him if he is just willing to listen to what we have to say. Just listen.

Then D called on each of us to speak in turn. He had already decided who would speak first (it was I). For each of us, the message was the same: I love you, I’m worried about you, and I want you to get help. Each of us was to say this in our own words.

D had also planned in advance who would go after G if he bolted. If and when G said yes, he would not be left alone but D would go with him to his room while he packed a small bag. Anything else could be taken to him later.

We had already selected the facility and made sure they had a bed. And we knew what insurance would cover.

In our case it worked beautifully: as soon as I had spoken, G said “Okay.” D said it was the easiest one he had ever done. G packed his bag and got into D’s car, and they drove away. An hour later, G was signing the papers.

One thing I hadn’t known beforehand is that at a rehab with a staff doctor, they can prescribe meds that will get the person through detox pretty comfortably. It doesn’t have to be the total nightmare that withdrawal is if you do it on your own.

The night before this event, I went through hell. I felt like a betrayer. I was scared to death. I was sick. I was desperate.

After it was done, I felt unutterable relief.

G had a rocky year from there; it doesn’t always take at the first try. But I think he is on the right track now.

And you, my dear: you need to get yourself to Al-Anon. See this question. You didn’t cause it, you can’t control it, and you can’t cure it. You must take care of yourself.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@SamIAm : First, breathe. You’re exhausted and probably rightly so. Breathe.

I have never been part of an intervention of any kind, but I am a recovered alcoholic. What I have to say comes from that perspective.

I was a hopeless drunk with a family and a job and a house and 2 cars and all the toys. I was on the brink of losing all that, but did that matter? No. Emphatically, no. What mattered was where I was getting my next drink. People talked to me about my drinking. It did no good.

I had to realize it for myself. I had to come face-to-face with the realization that what I was doing was killing me. I had to face my own mortality. For me, it had to be that stark.

I’m not saying that interventions don’t work. I’m only saying that having people talk to me didn’t help me. It had to be an inside job, so to speak.

I recommend that you go ahead with your plan that you have and with the sage advice from Jeruba. I also recommend that you make up your mind what you’re going to do for yourself, if things don’t work out the way you want them to.

Contact your nearest Al-anon group and talk to someone there. They understand your plight. They can help you feel better. They’ve been there a million times. They know what it’s like to have an alcoholic in the family and the havoc wreaked.

I wish you and your mother all the best.

Jeruba's avatar

I totally agree with @hawaii_jake that it’s an inside job and that nothing that anyone else says matters. Nothing comes between the addict and his drug of choice. G has said to me: “You can’t scare an alcoholic.”

But what this did do was allow him to experience his first sober days—weeks, a month—in years. Even though that is not nearly long enough for the fog to clear, it’s a chance for them to remember what sobriety is like. It still takes a good while before their brains start working right again, but it’s a place to start.

I understand that a lot of folks spend their whole time in rehab planning their next relapse. I understand that it may be a while before they stop experimenting, thinking that if they do this or that differently, they can still drink and it’ll be all right. I understand that it may continue to look hopeless for a good long while. I understand that until they really get to the place where they just can’t stand the pain any more, they’re not going to stop.

But a day of sobriety is a day of sobriety. It opens the door to better choices.

Alcoholism is a progressive disease, and it is fatal. The good news is that unlike a whole lot of diseases that some of the rest of us have, an alcoholic can make choices that halt the progression.

SpatzieLover's avatar

I agree completely with @Jeruba and @hawaii_jake. No matter what happens, you need Al-Anon.

My father had some days of sobriety, but in the end it did consume him. I know this was his choice. It takes time to process that reality (like a lifetime).

SamIAm's avatar

She’s in a facility. I dropped her off yesterday in California. I am exhausted and can’t stop crying. I know this is for the better but this has been the most emotionally draining week of my life. I’m tired. And I’m going to try to get to Al-Alon soon because I don’t know what else to do.

Thank you all for your PMs and your advice and help here. I really appreciate it. It helped tremendously.

Jeruba's avatar

oh thank gdness bless you & best wishes—this is a step, and 1 step is 1 step.

mods plz dn bust me for txtspk. i just brok my rt arm

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