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Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Intervention – Presentation Guidelines

Your Intervention Data are the chemically-related facts or events which you are going to present during the Intervention Session. Your data should follow the guidelines below:

Data should be chemically-related behaviors or events. It is extremely important that all data is chemically-related. If data is not chemically related, you take the focus off the fact that your chemically dependent person has a disease for which he/she needs professional help. For example, “Dad, last Friday you were drinking and driving. You were arrested and charged with DWI.” This piece of data is chemically related and tells the chemically dependent person that it is the chemical use which is causing his/her problems and his/her harmful consequences. If the data had been stated as “Dad, last Friday you were arrested for reckless driving”, it would not be appropriate for the Intervention Session because it is not chemically related. The chemically dependent person can deny that this incident was unusual (“everyone breaks the speed limit now and then”) and can deny that the chemicals were the cause of the irresponsible drinking behavior (“I was in a rush – it was a rough day and I was upset.”) You have to tell the chemically dependent person with every piece of data you present that it is the chemical use that you are concerned about and which is the cause of his/her inappropriate behavior; it is the chemicals for which the person needs help.

Data should be witnessed or documented chemically-related behaviors or events. In other words, you have to be sure data really happened and that you are reporting that data as it happened. For example, “Mom, Tuesday morning you were shaking, your face was pale, and you looked sick and scared.” This piece of data was witnessed and was reported as witnessed. A piece of data such as “I think you are having an affair” or “I think you go to a bar instead of working late at the office” is speculative and is a guess, not a fact. This does not mean that you cannot report incidents which you have not personally witnessed. You can report data which other people have witnessed as long as you can document it. An example of this type of data would be “Your boss called me last week. He said that you have come into work with alcohol on your breath every day this week” or “You have purchased one case of whiskey every week this month. I know this because I balanced our books and have seen the cancelled checks.”

Data should point out facts about total chemical consumption or usage. Some of the items of data should focus on the amount of chemicals the chemically dependent person is presently using, such as, “Mom, you have five prescriptions for Valium, all from different doctors. You take 20 pills a day.” or “Dad, you drank eight cans of beer and you were drunk and asleep by 8:00 p.m. every evening this week.”

Data should specify the date or time when a chemically-related event or behavior occurred. The more specific you can be about when, where, and with whom a chemically-related incident occurred, the more credible you will be. Also remember that the chemically dependent person was probably intoxicated when these incidents happened and was therefore not perceiving or sensing accurately. The more information you can provide them, the more you will help them recall these incidents. Data should specify when an incident occurred and can be stated as “last Friday” or “on June 15th” or “on our last anniversary” or “during this past month”. If possible, data should be recent. Incidents that happened last week will be easier to recall and have more impact than data that happened ten years ago. If you cannot recall a specific date, specify the time by the month during which an incident occurred or the season.

Data should be presented with care and concern. You need to begin and end each data presentation with a statement which says, “I am here because I love you, care about you, and I want you to get some help.” You should present your data in a factual but supportive manner. Many times the data you discuss will be painful for you to talk about and for the chemically dependent person to hear. You should be honest about the fact that these things are difficult for you to say, but that you care too much to leave these things unsaid.

Data should include the consequences you experienced and feelings you had as a result of the chemically-related behavior or event. Data should include your feelings. “I was embarrassed by what you did” or “I was scared for you or myself” or “I called your boss and lied for you” or “I carried you out of the bar” or “I borrowed money from my parents to pay our bills.” Be careful not to “blame.” Tell the truth in a factual manner and let the chemically dependent person know that you chose your own reactions and responses to his/her behavior or these events. But also let him/her know that you have been affected by his/her chemical problem and that these effects have not been pleasant.

Data must be written. Bring a written list of the data that you and your facilitator agree upon in the Intervention Rehearsal to the Intervention Session. Do not rely on your memory. You will be nervous during an Intervention Session, and your nervousness may cause you to forget. Therefore, have your data written on a list and have the list in your hand during the Intervention Session.

Data should point out the contradictions and conflicts in values and behaviors that occur during times of chemical influence/intoxication. You need to point out that your chemically dependent person does not behave “normally” when he/she is under the influence of chemicals. His/her intoxicated self is not the self he/she has been, can be, and honestly wants to be. Data can state this by pointing out that “Joe, you have been one of the company’s best employees and have always been evaluated as good in customer relations — until recently. This week I received five customer complaints about your rude and drunken behavior” or “You have always been a good, kind and considerate husband but last Monday you came home drunk, we had an argument and you hit me. This isn’t like you. You have never hit me before, and I know you would never have hit me if you had not been intoxicated.”

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