THE LAND BEFORE OZ – Intervention
As a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and an Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor, I have accompanied hundreds of people through the “haze” of using to find the path to recovery. This is often a dark and frightening time for people. As alcohol and drugs begin to consume more of a person’s life, the darkness and confusion presses in and the world around them spins out of control until they hit a point of crisis.
The crisis point is different for everyone and 12 step programs refer to it as “hitting bottom”. Some people face more than one bottom as it’s well known that ‘every bottom has a trap door’. There are always more serious consequences for addictive behavior if it is not arrested in a timely manner; the worst of these being death.
Usually, families and friends have spent time preparing to have a loving conversation with someone who is addicted. Often they see the signs and symptoms before the person does. This is the phenomenon of “denial”, an adaptive process that allows the person to rationalize & defend that alcohol & drugs are not the cause of the problems in their life. This manifestation of the belief that “if I could just fix ‘enter any number of excuses here’ then everything would be just fine”! “I wouldn’t need to drink or use so much”
The point is, an addict rarely is cognizant that their usage is a problem and they are often the last to be aware of the fact that there is a problem with their behavior at all! Further, if the addict does know he or she has a problem because either, they are repeatedly told by others, or they are beginning to see their world crumbling around them, they will continue to do everything possible to protect their using!
Hitting bottom, whether it is a bottom that it brought up to them – firing from a job, a spouse filing for divorce or legal issues, or that they fall far enough down – guilt, shame& remorse over the inability to stop using, is a crack in the denial. The bottom, then, is the first ray of light to pierce the veil of denial illuminating the fact that alcohol and drugs are at the root of the problems of the addict.
It is during these ‘bottoms’ that reaching out with assistance is critical and can often provide the addict an awakening of life-changing proportion. Usually, someone close to the troubled person leads the addict to my door. It can be a parent, a spouse, a loving member of AA or it can be health, a job or the law. Whatever the reason, we have the resources to help. Knowledge of the disease, the treatment centers and the program are all at hand.
I spend a good amount of time consulting with, and visiting, facilities in and outside the U.S. that offer primary treatment solutions. These solutions are only a phone call away and we can assist anyone with coordinating going to treatment. This may include calling family members, insurance companies, employers, and airport escorts to help the client get on the plane!
Yes, this is a huge step to take, but within a couple of hours, the shift from addiction to recovery can take place. Most people I have counseled are afraid to go to treatment but most often there is a huge a sigh of relief that “it is finally over” and the beginning of the end is in sight!