Continued from second in the series: “The Intervention Process – The Call.”
For those who’ve never talked with an interventionist before, Burr Cook of Family Intervention Now answers some very straightforward questions about intervention, families and addiction. With 17 years experience as a nurse and 9 years experience doing interventions, Burr is a Certified Alcoholism and Other Drug Recovery Specialist (CAS) and BRN/1 Board Registered Interventionist recognized by the Association of Intervention Specialist Credentialing Board. He knows first-hand what intervention and addiction are all about.
Following is the third in the series, “The Intervention Process – Educating the Family.”
Q: Can you talk more about “educating the family?”
Burr: Families need to be educated about addiction, codependency, family dynamics, communication and problem solving skills – they need to know what dysfunction looks like and what recovery looks like. It’s important for families to see how the addiction has affected them. The important ting to do is to unite the family so the addict is not dealing with a family member one on one. Addicts and alcoholics are too skilled at manipulation, especially when they’re dealing with people on a one-to-one basis. A united front is essential to a successful intervention. It strengthens their resolve.
Q: You mention that family members sometimes aren’t aware of how they enable an addict’s behavior. What kind of behavior should family members look for in themselves as warnings signs?
Burr: Basically any behavior that enables the addiction. Addiction is incredibly difficult to sustain for any significant period of time. Addicts can’t do it alone-they need the help of others and they are skilled at getting that help. Addicts are expert liars and manipulators. If you are an addict, all of life’s responsibilities take a back seat to your addiction; it’s enabling to take on those responsibilities. Lying for the addict, keeping secrets, paying bills or providing financial support, making excuses for the addict and their behavior, fixing their problems, intervening in their relationship problems on their behalf, assuming responsibility for basic needs and functions- all of these things can be enabling behaviors. If a family member has a tendency towards caretaking, enabling or codependent behavior they will probably not believe or see that they are part of the problem.
Q: Do you find it’s hard for family members to recognize their own behavior?
Burr: Absolutely. Family members are so focused on or enmeshed in the addicts’ behavior and problems they can’t see their own. It’s difficult for some because when someone we love is in trouble we help them. That’s a perfectly natural response, particularly if you are a parent. Some people really get caught up in the cycle of crises-resolution- relief or gratification. Others see their addicted loved one as being too fragile too take on responsibilities-it might push them over the edge or exacerbate their addiction. Whatever the reason, if you take away an opportunity for an addict to experience the consequences of their behavior, it makes it easier to maintain the behavior.
For example, a 28-year old man loses his home and job, then moves in with his parents, and shots dope in their house. It suggests to the parents that this kid has lost so much that he has to go to Mom and Dad for security. Mom’s not going to kick him out on the street, but what they don’t realize is that their son’s doping up in their house. It’s too hard for them to see that. They say they have to take care of their son. But what they don’t realize is that they’re not taking care of their son, they’re taking care of the addiction.
Click here to read the next part in this series on “The Rehab Intervention Process – The Road to Recovery.“
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