Monday, June 25, 2012

Intervention With A Small "i"

"Do you think we should talk to him?"

That's a question comes up in many intervention planning sessions that always seems to take me by surprise. It shouldn't but it does. The dialogue that follows goes something like this:

You've never talked to him about his drinking?
Not really.
How come?
Well, I tried to. My son and daughter tried, too. And Uncle Bobby. (There's always an Uncle Bobby.)
What happened?
Well it was after the wedding, before the twins were baptized, etc., etc., and then he was doing better, and...well.....anyway it didn't really happen. Nothing happened.

Here's why. It's tough to talk to someone you love about something that's painful. It's even tougher when you are worried that you might make things worse. And if your feelings are raw and close to the surface, like on the morning after some particularly bad night, it's like playing with dynamite.

It adds up to a Trifecta of procrastination. So here are a couple of things to do if you are planning to talk to your loved one about their drinking or drugging:

  1. Be clear and specific, not general. It's not "you drink too much", it's "last night when you came in I smelled liquor on your breath and you were unsteady on your feet."
  2. Say what you want. There's a big difference between "I want you to behave yourself" and "I want you to try and cut down on your drinking, and if you can't, see a professional for some help."
  3. Don't shame or blame. I could write a chapter on that, and one of these days I will. For now, don't do it. 
  4. No drama. Once the voices raise, the cause is lost. For now, anyway.
So, unlike Mr. Wizard said, go ahead, kids and feel free to try these at home. If it works, great! I am very happy that you need no other help.

If not, give me a call or text at 484 431 2931, or email me at