Drug Abuse Help

You’d like to know about drug abuse help:  Are you the person using, or is it someone in your family?

Drug or alcohol use in a family is often described by experts as “the elephant in the living room.”  Everybody knows it’s there, but nobody ever talks about it.  When you walk through the living room, you step carefully around it.  Sometimes the elephant makes messes, and someone quietly cleans them up.  Maybe people outside your family have seen it, but you never acknowledge it with them, either.  But when that elephant gets up and bellows, it creates chaos for everyone!

If you are the family member of an addict, you can confront the person in what is known as an intervention.


You’ve got to assemble several people who are involved in the addict’s life, and this is how to do it:

  • Ask three to eight people to join with you in the confrontation.
  • Don’t let the addict know what you’re planning.
  • Each of you should write down what you think about the addict’s use.  Be sure to critique your writing to eliminate derogatory names, anger, and judgment.  Try to describe objectively what the addict’s behavior has caused.
  • Before you confront the person who needs drug abuse help, the intervention team should get together and practice what they’ll say.  Everyone should be on the same page.
  • Talk about what each of you has done to perpetuate the addict’s use.
    Some of you are probably enablers or codependents.
    Enablers are the people who keep rescuing the addict and making excuses for him.
    Codependency refers to the interactive relationship that the two of you have.
  • Assign one or two people to make a list of area drug or alcohol treatment centers.  Call them and ask how much they cost.  You should also ask if there’s a waiting list.  You can do this without giving your name.
  • Call the addict’s insurance, if at all possible, to find out what benefits are available for substance abuse treatment.  In the United States, most private insurance companies will not pay for certain types of treatment, but a government medical card will pay for a large part or all of it.  In countries with a national health service, expect treatment to be part of the standard benefit package.
  • Be realistic about the treatment you can set up for the person.  If this is the first time anyone is confronting him, the first level of treatment will be outpatient.  You won’t be packing him off to a long-term rehab, like you read about with some celebrities.  And nobody gets admitted in a day.  Tell the outpatient clinic you want to set up an intake appointment.  You will need the addict’s date of birth, social security number, and health insurance information in order to make this call.  Assure the rehab center that you are designated to do this.
  • When all of you meet with the addict, you should arrive together.  Insist that he sit down with you and read him your letters, one at a time.
  • If he agrees, then one of you will take him to his intake appointment.
  • Collect your letters and give them to the intake counselor.
  • Besides the help that the addict is getting, each person who participated in the intervention should attend an Al-Anon or Nar-Anon group.
    Visit http://www.nar-anon.org for information to help families of drug addicts,
    and http://www.al-anon.alateen.org provides information for the families and teen-aged relatives of alcoholics.

What do you do if you have the intervention and the addict refuses to be helped?  Then there are hard choices to make.  If this person has been destroying property, committing domestic abuse on family members, or stealing to pay for his abuse, then you need to call your local police and find out how to file charges against him.  What if it’s a teenager who’s tearing apart your life and refusing to go to school?   You must file unruly charges.

The truth is that some people won’t accept drug abuse help until they back up into the legal system.  It’ll be difficult to see him in a jail cell, but it would be even worse to see him in a coffin.  And some day, after he gets the help he needs, he’ll thank you!


Leave a Reply