As a professional interventionist I’ve seen family members take these positions all the time and the damage it can do.
“Just because we have no experience doing interventions doesn’t mean we can’t do one,” (even though the family history strongly indicates it’s a bad idea).
“Maybe this time we can pull off an intervention ourselves and save money and headaches in the process” (even though they’ve been unsuccessful so far) Or,
“The people at Al-anon told me we just confront him and give him an ultimatum, throw him out of the house and cut him off. Simple, right?”
And the most common intervention related suicide note, “Let’s try it on our own first and if that doesn’t work, then we’ll hire a professional.”
For most families, these litanies are swan’s songs. In Greek mythology, a swan’s song is a final effort before death.
Too dramatic? Not from the wreckage I’ve seen.
As an example, I was hired to do an intervention in Bellevue, Washington. The family had, “tried it on their own first” to see if they could save a little money as opposed to bringing in a professional interventionist. They viewed doing that as bringing in a stranger who might make things worse. The family ended up making such a mess of things that initially the addict would not even meet with me out of fear from what the family had done. Eventually, I got the addict into the program, but it was vastly more complicated and took much longer – by many days – than it would have had the family not created a disaster for me to have to clean up first. And, there were long-term effects like a real loss of trust between the addict and his family.
The family’s intentions were good, no doubt of that, but without any real experience, once the addict said “No!” to their offer – which anyone could have predicted – they had no plan beyond giving the addict an ultimatum, to which he responded poorly to say the least. They blamed each other, got angry at the addict, and that led to war. When they finally gave in and called me, that mess is what I had to start with. Not ideal. So, I’m writing this from a position of professional self-interest. It’s like being a professional painter and being hired to do a job by a family who’s already tried to, “do it on their own,” first. You don’t have any fresh surfaces to work with. Instead you have a lot of repair work to do before you can even start doing what you do well. Interventions are no different other than the fact that a person’s future and possibly his life hangs in the balance.
The ironic thing is that families who want to try it on their own first have usually done so with limited, if any success. So how do you gauge if your family falls into this category?
If you honestly feel you have a 75% to 90% chance of getting your loved one to agree to go to treatment and getting him to arrive (these are two sequential but different things), reading my book or getting some guidance from another proven source and going in on your own might be worth it. That said, if you’re honest and give yourself a 10% to 50% chance of success, then why roll those dice on your loved one without professional guidance? If you’re giving yourself those odds then chances are you’ve already tried and failed, or you sense disaster on the horizon.
The cost to your family both financially and emotionally can be far greater if you go in and “try it on your own first.” As they say, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, and I’ve said this before; “If you think hiring a professional is expensive, just wait until you hire an amateur.”
Do yourself and your loved one a favor and call for a free consultation. As passionate as I am about my work I never pressure, only educate (somewhat passionately). At the very least you’ll have information and possibly a viewpoint you did not have before. Call any time.
Hi, My name is Steve Bruno. I'm here to build my name as a professional interventionist, an author, blogger, and - to the extent I establish myself as such - an authority on the subject of alcohol and drug addiction interventions.