Professional Interventionist

When Family Members Don’t Agree on What to Do – If Anything

  • Posted by: Steve Bruno

I field calls from family members all the time who are at odds – not so much with the addict or alcoholic – but with members of their own family.

Even as a professional interventionist with a long-standing track record of success, when it came to intervening on one of my own, I found myself in the same position you might be in, trying to wrench others around to my viewpoint which I was certain was the correct one.

Different people have different viewpoints, different personal truths, maybe even major differences in how they see things. What I do is find some common ground for everyone. This is important, to find common ground as opposed to divebombing theirs in an effort to prove yourself right.

For example, not everyone may agree that John has a heroin addiction, or they may not agree that it’s as bad as you say it is, that it warrants treatment and so on, but any family member of John’s would be hard pressed to disagree with the fact that overall, if you took a slice of John’s current life and looked at it, that he hasn’t lost his way. Drug addiction or not, does he operate well? Is he ethical? Can he be trusted? Is he doing well? Is he happy? Does he have a sense of personal ethics, honor or integrity?

That argument is easier to make. A good program doesn’t actually address any specific drug, it addresses the person; in any event, don’t let someone else talk to you in a compromising your own integrity. Simply because you respect someone doesn’t mean they’re able to confront the problem. Parents often have difficulty seeing what’s right in front of them because admitting their child is off the rails means their parenting was inadequate, that they failed in some way.

If you’re reading this then the likelihood is you’re the one putting the intervention together. If your spouse, mother, father or brother is not on board, you also have another critical decision to make, which is whether or not to let that person dictate what you do about a problem you know exists.

Do you follow their lead to hold off if they don’t follow yours to take action?

Involving a professional can come in very handy if you find yourself in this conundrum. I say, “involving,” because I often consult with different family members over several hours before they decide to move forward. The benefit is that I have no history with that person, no emotional minefields to overcome, and I have decades of experience as an addict as well as a field clinician handling addiction and the obfuscation, denial and debate that invariably accompanies it.


The Issue of Proof

drug evidence


If you find yourself going through your loved ones room, taking photos, creeping around his car, searching under mattresses, counting liquor or beer bottles and so on, or otherwise seeking out evidence to prove the existence of the problem to others or to confront the addict yourself with it, STOP. You may be establishing an argument you cannot win, no matter how many bottles, baggies, burnt aluminum foil or pipes you discover. And, at the end of the day you’re not confronting a drug or alcohol problem. That’s why so many people who recover relapse; they haven’t handled the underlying condition that caused them to self-medicate in the first place. That said, debating about evidence and insisting on drug tests is not where you want to go.

If you feel very stuck on these or any other obstacle, please take the time to call for a consultation. It doesn’t cost you anything and I may be able to help you avoid mistakes that can cost you everything.

Every passing minute is another chance to turn it all around. 

~ From the movie, Vanilla Sky

Author: Steve Bruno
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.