January 28, 2015
Family Resources

What if They Say No?

With the exception of law enforcement or judicial intervention, substance abusers must agree to enter a treatment program. This freedom to say “no” can cause quite a bit of anxiety for friends and family members, and although the vast majority of professional interventions end up successful, that small chance still looms in the back of people’s minds.

This is one of the reasons why intervention specialists meet with family members and other key players before the intervention, as the group has to discuss this “what if” question and how it will be dealt with. The group must decide what their bottom lines will be, knowing that if they don’t hold those lines then the addict or alcoholic will continue to have a reason not to seek help.

While these bottom lines can be different from family to family, many of them have the same theme, such as withdrawing any form of financial support or privileges that were previously given. Without things like money in their account, a car to drive, a free smartphone with unlimited usage, a free place to live and free food to eat, it suddenly starts to become clear to them that their life of staying drunk or high isn’t going to be that easy. Although they will adopt a “how can you do this to me?” attitude, it is very much them doing it to themselves. Their behaviors and lack of responsibility are what caused the situation, and you have to let them know in no uncertain terms that you’re not going to continue supporting those actions.

If and when it gets to that point in the intervention, then most of the people in need of treatment quickly recant and agree to get help, even if it is not immediately. Only in more extreme cases are tougher measures taken, such as involuntary commitments. Most of the time those are not needed, as following a proven successful intervention program that includes bottom lines are usually sufficient.