When You Love a Shapeshifter, Part 6
The drugs or alcohol have turned someone you love into a monster. How can we turn them back?
Sometimes (about half the time, in our experience,) you work at changing your own actions, eliminating enabling behaviors, and the addicted person shows no motivation to change at all. Now what?
It’s time to plan the “Intervention.” We put a lot of detailed information and resources to learn about and plan an intervention right on this website, including a complete “Do It Yourself Intervention Guide” with a bibliography, case studies, and tips for finding the right treatment. You can look there, or on our “Intervention Series” posts, for more help. But let’s start with an overview, beginning with the first of several “Action Steps.”
Step One: Assess the Extent and Severity of Addictive Disease
We call this “knowing your enemy.”
Remember, it’s the disease we’re really contending with, not the person who has it. The behaviors of alcoholics and addicts are so predictable because the disease follows a certain progression. That makes it hard for the person who has it to avoid certain situations, try as they might.
Where they are in the progression of the disease also affects just how they resist treatment.
Early Stages: The big obstacle is the shortage of serious problems connected with the drinking/drug use, as experienced by the user. “Why should I quit something I enjoy that’s not causing problems? If it ever does, maybe then I’ll do something about it.
Middle Stages: As problems start to pile up, the addict or alcoholic begins to use defense mechanisms— and they can become very good at it. Fortunately for us, though, the reality of the disease is much easier to see than in the early stages.
Late Stages: By the time it’s been going on this long, the addict or alcoholic may be in the grip of a brain syndrome that makes it impossible for them to accurately perceive reality. In this case, we may be looking for enough leverage to force the choice of treatment even though they won’t fully understand the need.
How do we make this assessment? Getting help from a professional is a good option, if it’s possible. You can also do your own research– there are many good books and online resources that describe the progression of the disease and the key indicators. Check out the Jellinek Curve, for a shorthand overview, to start.
Where on the continuum does your addict fall? Maybe it’s between stages, or mostly in one stage but beginning to show signs of the next stage, too. Well, that’s why we’re considering intervention– because the disease is getting worse.
There is another good reason for learning more about addictive disease and how it progresses: You’ll get to see what’s coming next, if it’s not arrested. That can help you keep your own motivation strong.