If your family business is struggling with the burden of alcoholism or other substance addiction, one of the big questions is likely to be: How can we get the addict to seek treatment?
A 2006 poll by HBO and USA Today of families with members addicted to drugs or alcohol found only half of them ever sought treatment, and that family pressure was seen as an important factor encouraging those who did.
This poll also found treatment was generally successful. However, performing an effective family intervention is no easy task. It is often made more difficult by emotions stirred up by the addict’s often erratic and destructive behavior. And if, as is sometimes the case, the addict has stature and influence in the business, it gets even harder.
However, interventions can succeed. Experts advise that concerned family members approach the problem like this:
- Plan thoroughly. Avoid an off-the-cuff intervention as a reaction to an outrage the addict has performed. Think carefully about what to say and how to say it. Then, write it down and try to follow the script as well as circumstances allow.
- Have an outcome in mind. Generally, this will be for the addict to voluntarily commit to treatment. The precise goal may be for the addict to commit to treatment for a certain length of time. Remember, however, that there are many different types of treatment and a principle of substance abuse treatment is that no therapy is right for every addict. Some flexibility may be necessary.
- Stay calm. Avoid showing anger (even or especially if you feel it.) Do not condemn the addict or present the treatment as punishment. Approach your troubled family member with love and emphasize how much you care for them.
- Be specific. Discuss identifiable actions, behaviors and consequences rather than applying sweeping labels or launching broad-brush accusations.
- Be brief. An intervention may look like an opportunity to reel off a list of every offense suffered over many years. However, it’s more important to get the important points across before the addict’s attention lags.
Generally, offering factual information as opposed to opinions about the problem’s consequences and remedies can help the addict reach a decision to voluntarily enter treatment. Families can, for instance, show how much behaviors such as absenteeism are costing the business.
Offering the addict choices is another way to improve chances of voluntary treatment. At best, intervention becomes a collaboration between the ailing person and other family members rather than something imposed on the addict by the rest.
Finally, don’t discount compulsory treatment if that’s an option. Evidence on the effectiveness of voluntary versus compulsory treatment is mixed. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that people who enter treatment under legal pressure have outcomes about as favorable as those who get treatment voluntarily.
So if legal or familial pressures can compel treatment, that could work. But a well-crafted and caringly executed effort to get a family member to voluntarily enter treatment is most business families’ first choice. If you are struggling with addiction in your family business then please reach out to REGENERATION. Our team of experts could be the objective third party that is needed to help your family member find the help they need.