Ask an Expert: My Family Won't Consider an Intervention

By Jay Westbrook 02/19/15
Today's question is on where to go next when your family won't stage an intervention for an addicted family member.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Last week Jay Westbrook responded to reader Emily's email about an addicted cousin she cares about by recommending that the family consider an intervention. Here is Emily's reply and a further response from Jay Westbrook.]

I thank you for taking the time to write such a thoughtful and informative response. Unfortunately, the idea of an intervention was not well received by my family. One of the biggest reasons being that my aunt is in such deep denial, she won't/can't even admit that he is using drugs, let alone has a serious problem. (Complicated family dynamics also contribute). In the meantime, I plan to look into Nar-Anon (I've had some experience with Al-Anon), send him my letter and some info about treatment options, and hope for the best. Thank you again so much. - Emily


Jay Westbrook:  Emily, I'm so proud of you, and your healthy approach. You know, Malcolm X once said, "If you see a man drinking from a glass of muddy water, do not tell him not to. Rather, place a glass of clean, clear water next to the muddy one, and step back; allow him to choose." From my perspective, the loving letter and treatment information you've sent, the kindness and concern you've visited, and the self-care you've role-modeled, are the glass of clean clear water. And he gets to choose it, or not. Move forward in your life, and I have little doubt that as you do, many will benefit from your kindness and compassion (including Emily).

As always, in love & service - Jay 



G Jay Westbrook, M.S-Gerontology., R.N, is a multiple award-winning clinician (Nurse of the Year), Visiting Faculty Scholar at Harvard Medical School, speaker and author who specializes in both substance abuse recovery and End-of-Life care and is an expert in Grief Recovery©. He has both consulted to and served as a clinician in multiple treatment centers and hospitals, guiding clients through their grief, and working with them and their families on healing broken relationships. His lectures to physicians and nurses include trainings in When Your Patient is a Substance Abuser: Currently or Historically. He can be reached at [email protected].    Full Bio.

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