It’s an essential truth that alcoholics 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 alcoholic?
- Has already expressed on at least one occasion a desire to drink less.
- Has exhibited awareness that drinking is a problem (even if he doesn’t think it’s serious).
- Has expressed general dissatisfaction about the current state of his life.
- Has already made some effort to change his behavior for the better, even if it didn’t last.
- Has indicated that he thinks he might have a drinking problem.
- Has improved for a while before slipping back into problem drinking.
- Has acknowledged at least some concern about the effects of his drinking on others (such as children or family).
- Has expressed general concern about his health, even if not specifically related to drinking.
- Has expressed concern about the effect of drinking on his ability to work or function.
- Has already sought advice from others about his drinking, even if he didn’t follow it.
A ‘yes’ response to two of ten indicates that your alcoholic is already considering change. The more ‘yes’ responses, the more seriously he’s considered it. That’s to our benefit.
With planning and preparation, we can take advantage of the positive motivation that already exists.