Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Choose Your Bottom

There is nothing worse than watching a family member struggle with addiction. They simply are not the same people we once knew. As family members watching the tornado of destruction they create everywhere they go, we are familiar with the stealing, string of constant lies and excuses, the anger and the frustration. Above all, we feel helpless to do anything. We have cried, screamed, prayed, and lectured until we are blue in the face. However, there is a way to stop being helpless and start making positive choices for our loved ones. Enter the intervention.
An intervention is not a lot of things: it is not cornering the addict and trapping them into submission, it is not forcing them to go to treatment, it is not a situation that involves blame, criticism or shame. It is a structured, professionally guided, unified show of support and love by a group of people who care too much about the addict to continue to love them to death or to let them die. What's more, it is a way of the family of addicts to take back the power they have lost to help their loved one. Keep reading...
The pure and simple fact of the matter is that every addict or alcoholic is going to hit bottom. A lot of people think that in order to allow the addict to do that, the family has to sit back and watch them suffer until the bitter end. Not so. By being a part of an intervention, the family and interventionist is going to be providing the addict with three things: the gift of recovery, the chance at a new life lived in sobriety and a safe bottom. The keyword is safe.
Take Johnny for example: his family is a wreck. They have been watching him abuse heroin and opiates for years. They have prayed many many times for Johnny to end up in jail or for something so drastic to happen that it creates what will be his "bottom". Unfortunately, it's not really going as planned. Johnny has gone from having a wife and child with a decent job and a car to crashing on couches, sometimes seeing his daughter and leaving his wife with what seems like her only option, divorce. Johnny has overdosed, lost his job and clearly, his life is out of control. One would think that any number of these things would prompt Johnny to see that he needs help to stop abusing drugs and to reach out to get that help. Although Johnny's parents try to do the right thing, they aren't helping. They have bailed him out of jail after he promised to go to rehab, they have been assisting his wife with money to keep Johnny's bills paid and until last month, they were helping Johnny make his car payment. When Johnny needs somewhere to go, his parents will let him crash at their house, all the while hoping he is coming there to get clean.
It is obvious to most that Johnny is not being impacted by the continual loss of the things in his life that used to mean so much to him. It is time for an intervention. The real problem with random bottoms is that we don't get to choose what that bottom will be. It could be a car accident, a fatal overdose, a life lived in prison as a result of a drug related crime, and the list goes on. By participating in an intervention, the family is standing together and saying "we will not help you with your illness any longer, we will only help you in your wellness." Healthy boundaries are set by the family and the addict is presented with this "safe bottom" in a loving, kind way. Each interventionist works with the family to develop a custom strategy for guiding Johnny to the right choice, that choice being treatment. In the end, the choice will be Johnny's alone, but the simple effective way it is presented to him as a result of a professionally guided intervention allows Johnny to see that this option truly is the best option.
If you have a friend or family member that has an addiction, my condolences go out to you. It's definitely not a fun place to be. However, you do not have to sit back and wait for a bottom. Take some control back and give "Johnny" the best gift he'll ever get.

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