A friend of mine called yesterday asking me this question. She hasn’t talked to her mom since Thanksgiving which has been a couple of months now. Her mom has been isolating herself and when she does contact my friend her behavior is bizarre. She will send irrational and nasty text messages, she will lie or not tell the whole story. Often times her story about events changes. My friend is worried about her mom but doesn’t know what to do. Should the family do an intervention? She knows her mom drinks wine but isn’t sure how much since she lives a couple of hundred miles away. Is her mom an alcoholic or does she have a mental illness?
Her mom has always had issues and especially when things are bad in her life. At one point her mom was married to an abusive man and during that time my friend would receive these nasty abusive emails that were her mom was clearly drunk and slurring her words. They finally rescued her out of that situation and things got better. Her mom married a wonderful man and things were really good. But then two years ago her new husband got cancer and died quickly. Since then it has been a spiral downhill.
When my friend asked me if she should do an intervention on her mom this was my answer: what do you have to lose? Right now she doesn’t have a relationship with her mom. If she does an intervention and it doesn’t work (if you get a good interventionist the success rate is very high) then she is in the same place. Except, she will be able to rest knowing that she has done everything she could to help her mom. On the other side, if it does work, her mom will finally get the help she needs and they can start putting their relationship back together.
If you are reading this and asking the same or similar question then let me encourage you. Everyone in your situation second guesses themselves. Does she really have a problem? Is an intervention really the right thing to do? These questions are born out of your own fear. The reality is, if you are asking the question then 99.99% of the time the answer is yes – they need an intervention. Think about it, have you ever asked that question about a normal person? Is there anyone you can think of where you thought they were an alcoholic or drug addict and it turns out they weren’t? No, of course not. If you are asking the question then clearly there is an issue.
If that isn’t enough then consider this: over 52,200 Americans died of an overdose in 2015. That’s more than died in car accidents (37,757), more than died in gun deaths including suicide (36,252), and more than died in terrorism (44). This really is a life-death situation. Do you want to be standing at your loved one’s funeral knowing you could have done something but didn’t because you were afraid?