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It’s an essential truth that people with alcoholism think about changing for a long, long time before they seriously attempt it. They’re ambivalent about change, and struggle to make up their minds. It’s as if there’s a balance scale in their heads that somehow isn’t yet balanced in favor of action.

One key to successful intervention is to take advantage of this existing motivation. Let’s begin with a simple inventory. To how many of these could you answer ‘YES’ about your loved one with alcoholism?

  1. Has already expressed on at least one occasion a desire to drink less.
  2. Has exhibited awareness that drinking is a problem (even if s/he doesn’t think it’s serious).
  3. Has expressed general dissatisfaction about the current state of his/her life.
  4. Has already made some effort to change his/her behavior for the better, even if it didn’t last.
  5. Has indicated that s/he thinks s/he might have a drinking problem.
  6. Has improved for a while before slipping back into problem drinking.
  7. Has acknowledged at least some concern about the effects of her/his drinking on others (such as children or family).
  8. Has expressed general concern about her/his health, even if not specifically related to drinking.
  9. Has expressed concern about the effect of drinking on her/his ability to work or function.
  10. Has already sought advice from others about her/his drinking, even if he didn’t follow it.

A ‘yes’ response to two of ten indicates that your alcoholic loved one is already considering change. The more ‘yes’ responses, the more seriously s/he’s considered it. That’s to our benefit.

With planning and preparation, we can take advantage of the positive motivation that already exists.

This post belongs to Intervention Series