Stop Drinking Now .. When to Confront an Alcoholic
The decision to confront an alcoholic is never an easy one to make. The most important thing is you should never attempt it when the alcoholic is currently under the influence of alcohol. The confrontation should be planned when he or she is sober. Confronting an alcoholic is sometimes called an intervention and must be carefully planned according to recommended expert guidelines, preferably those issued by a knowledgeable organization like Al-Anon which is the support group for family members of alcoholics. Also, prior to confronting an alcoholic, you should check with the persons doctor or a specialist in treating alcoholic disorders to determine how to prepare yourself and any others who might be helping you to confront a drinker about whom you are concerned. We have listed nine tips that may be helpful in preparing for an intervention.
Instead of formulating a confrontation plan on your own, see what the experts advise by talking to the Al-Anon association in your area. People there can advise you how to plan the intervention, and provide useful resources and information, too. If Al-Anon is unavailable in your area, make an appointment with a licensed therapist, counselor, or psychologist to discuss the nature of the problem and how it might best be approached. Although confronting an alcoholic can be similar in many respects for many families, it is a good idea to clarify unique circumstances or personal characteristics that could make a difference on the outcome.
It can be tempting to criticize the alcoholic for being intoxicated yet again when someone you care about comes home drunk. This does not help the situation as the drunk will usually tune out the criticism for the time being, or forget about it the next day, when sober, and thus be unable to do anything about it. It is vital to talk to the person when they are sober, and hopefully in a reasonable frame of mind to hear your concerns. If you find that no spontaneous opportunities occur, you can attempt to schedule a talk after dinner or at another time when the two of you can be uninterrupted.
Other relatives, close friends, or even members of Al-Anon that you may have met can by your supporters, as they may have been in comparable situations as you at some point. They may even decide to join you in confronting the alcoholic in your family. That decision can depend on you and the circumstances involving the person who drinks too much, as well as professional opinions about the situation.
When the times comes to confront the alcoholic, you must not be wishy-washy or indirect. Use a factual tone of voice and lay out the situation. Use examples of the drunkards problem behavior and ensuing results. List dates, frequency of bad behavior, amounts of alcohol consumed or sums of money spent on drinking, and other data to support your claims. Please note that it takes courage to confront an alcoholic, so dont back down. If the alcoholic chooses to argue with you, remain calm and point to the facts.
An alcoholic often is able to stay in that condition by learning how to sidestep responsibility and manipulate other people to ignore his misdeeds or cover for him at work or in public. If you are in the habit of doing these things in the past, the problem drinker may assume he can have his way again to get out of the intervention without making any changes. Part of an interventions potential for success is the family member who arranges it being able to change, too. A person who wants to help cannot keep enabling the alcoholic to abuse alcohol. Stay firm, and dont let the alcoholic bully or wheedle you into giving up.
Coupled with confronting an alcoholic with the consequences of his behavior is the need for a plan of recovery. If you are working with Alcoholics Anonymous or Al-Anon, they can help you with making arrangements for a problem drinker to enter a rehabilitation program, either onsite at a facility for this purpose, or as an outpatient in a local clinic or support group. In some cases, a halfway house might be an appropriate alternative. Find out ahead of time if a particular detoxification program will accept the problem drinker you are working with, and make preliminary arrangements for the person to be admitted immediately following the intervention. Make it clear that you cannot guarantee the drinker will enroll, much less stay with the program, unless he accepts the program as part of his new life of abstaining from drink.
If the alcoholic agrees to go into rehab, family members should try to provide support and encouragement during the detoxification phase and rehabilitation program, which involves patient and family education and can last anywhere between several days to several months. Most programs last 28 days or less, given peoples job and family responsibilities, and some of the rehabilitators can continue as a non-resident while resuming career and household duties. However the program plays out, love, acceptance, and willingness to support changes in lifestyle can go a long way toward helping the alcoholic become successful in rehabilitation.
Remember that family members living with an alcoholic must be willing to take responsibility for their own behaviors and make necessary changes themselves. Adjustments might consist of refusing to cover for an alcoholics incapability to go to work by reporting him absent, paying bills that the drinker should pay when he has spent his paycheck for alcoholic drinks, and letting the alcoholic mistreat or intimidate the family by acts of thoughtlessness or hostility. Sobriety can many times make life harder for the drinker and his family while everyone adjusts to new rules and learns how to follow through consistently. Some ex-drinkers can be ill- tempered, challenging, and irritable, while others might act guilty, humiliated, or remorseful.
After confronting an alcoholic, results may not appear automatically. The drinker may vacillate between agreeing to rehab and resisting it, or he may enter rehab but leave early or fall off the wagon after completing the program. Nothing is guaranteed. After confronting an alcoholic, all you can do is continue to hold your line and wait for the drinkers response. That alone will determine the outcome of your intervention. If the drinker opts not to continue treatment or it proves unsuccessful, the family should continue to receive counseling and support as they make decisions about the future.
Living with an alcoholic is one of the hardest things to do. Their uncontrolled drinking causes problems that can affect family members and other people. It can be difficult for relatives to dissociate themselves from the drinker and establish effective boundaries between his behavior and theirs to avoid unhealthy enmeshment. But with education, professional support, and courageous conviction, family members can learn to practice tough love when confronting an alcoholic to give that person a fair shot at recovery. An intervention may be the first step toward acknowledging a problem and doing something about it that can make a positive difference in the lives of a problem drinker and his loved ones.
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