Interventions Can Be Frustrating
As you read through this material you’ll undoubtedly notice that the frustrations and difficulties you’ve experienced are the ones we’ve also encountered when it’s come time to find help for a family member with an alcohol abuse problem. It seems like no one has much to offer beyond confronting the “problem person” and whisking them off to a residential alcohol treatment center at great expense and with uncertain methods and outcomes.
You are, of course, aware that as a family member becomes increasingly alcohol dependent, most of us find ourselves wishing we knew what to do. Initially we all tend to look the other way and hope the problem will just go away, but eventually most of us will start getting angry, as consequences begin to affect our lives. Then you start to feel guilty about being angry. It is, after all, a disease, isn’t it? How can we be angry at someone who is ill?
Doing Nothing Works For A While
Lewis Thomas, M. D., essayist and late Director of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, once wrote that in treating patients, the most difficult part is knowing that “frequently the best we can do is to stand back and quietly wring our hands.” For many of us, that is how we respond as the problem grows.
The Need For Actions Grows
Eventually, as you have probably found out, patience wears thin, circumstances become intolerable, and our own lives begin to be affected in ways we can’t ignore – bank accounts are depleted, arrests for DUIs and other infractions occur, bail is requested, and emergency room visits arise. Quietly wringing our hands is no longer an option, and as problems pile up, and anger grows, so does the need for action, whether it helps or not.
Limited Possibilities Make Success Difficult
As you’ve undoubtedly discovered, there aren’t a lot of possibilities. As we said earlier, traditionally professionals have urged and orchestrated “interventions,” forceful confrontations between the drinker and those affected by his or her problem. Supposedly, the chastened drunk, suddenly made aware of the error of their ways, is whisked off to a prearranged residential placement and started down the road of life long recovery, and everyone lives happily ever after.
You’re smart enough to know that it hardly ever happens that way. Confronted drunks become resentful drunks. Alcoholism treatment fails within days or weeks or months. Everyone is more suspicious, hostile, and alienated – as well as considerably poorer. And there still isn’t any resolution in sight.