Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Presentation (Part III of V)

Each person in the group presents his or her personal experience with alcoholic or addict explaining two experiences directly related to the use of alcohol/drugs and its effects on their life without blaming the addict (it's the disease and drug affected behavior damaging the person and the relationship.) Natural emotional emotional pain will be experienced and demonstrated. That’s appropriate. I statements must be used. Describing experiences their associated emotional pain in the relationship is key. If any participant is so angry that he or she can’t describe their pain and get vulnerable in front of the alcoholic, more work with that person should be considered, or their participation in the intervention should be questioned. Before describing the negative events above, each person affirms how important and valued their relationship is with the addict or how they want to return to what that value relationship once was.

When describing negative events, the key to success is not focusing on the addict's need for treatment. That comes later. Instead, have family/friends focus their experience and feelings associated with hurt and pain caused by the alcohol-affected behavior or its outcomes.

Participants describe in detail two events and their impact. A key element in interventions in having family members acquire the ability to consider within their stories the difference between what the relationship is like now as a result of the use of alcohol or drugs and what a vividly imagined and described picture of what it can and should be if only person's behavior was not affected by alcohol.

This is powerful. No presenter should discuss another participant's experience or attempt to point out what he or she thinks the alcoholic can’t see or doesn't understand. This triggers the use of defense mechanisms and sets the intervention back. The group’s goal with the serial presentations is to create a phenomenon called synergistic remorse.

Each person's presentation causes the alcoholic to re-experience feelings of remorse or guilt--originally felt at the time an incident originally occurred. These feelings of remorse are often short-lived, but they are a open window into which the group will insert a treatment solution later. The goal is to have the addict begin to feel a sense of urgency and determination to deal with the drinking problem/drug problem in some way he or she thinks might be effective. (Willpower is usually what's being silently considered.)

At the end of the last story, the group moves quickly to request admission to an addiction treatment program knowing that at the end of a series of effective presentations the synergistic remorse effect is in play and peaked. An attempt to bargain by the addict is the usual response, and then an gentle persuasion experience on the part of the group begins.

The group asks and presses the addict to enter a treatment program immediately. Each participant presses for this decision.

The goal is to successfully urge the addict's acceptance of the treatment recommendation and reject effectively ideas offered by the addict that will certainly be minimal and half-measured attempts to abstain. Participants MUST be effective with their language at providing non-agitating and non-provocative responses to the addict's "better idea". The following is a resource (sorry it is not well proofed, but I can't edit these blogs and information very effectively so bare with me folks.)

Try this document I wrote to help my own intervention clients: “Effective Responses to Defensive Statements Made By Addicts in Interventions". I think it does a pretty good job at educating participants with “what to say” and “how to say it” in response to twenty classic objections addicts use interventions. Language is disease model based and I think you will get the point of why it is effective to marshal support and confidence in family members prior to an intervention.