Sooner or later an addict or alcoholic will be confronted very harshly with an intervention because he either wreck a car, get arrested or will be found face down in the bathroom amongst other untoward outcomes. However, when family and friends influence an alcoholic for seeking treatment, it is called an intervention. Families who conduct an intervention with an addict succeed 90% of the time. However, in sharp contrast only 10 percent of the families agree to conduct an intervention in the first place. Hence, surprisingly it is easier to convince an unwilling individual suffering from the problem of addiction, however it is extremely difficult to convince his caring, loving and worried family members to conduct an intervention. Families keep waiting for a miracle. Amongst the many forms of misconduct being shown by the addict, the family focuses specifically on drug abuse. They end up developing tunnel vision.
Dr. Sadaqat Ali , a graduate from Dow Medical College, Karachi is a renowned professional in the field of addiction psychiatry. He has a background of getting trained at “HAZELDEN” and “Vital Smarts”, USA. Dr. Sadaqat Ali is the Project Director of Willing Ways (Pvt.) Limited and Sadaqat Clinic (pvt.) limited. He is a sought after speaker who promotes new scientific solutions for persistent and profound problems. Dr. Sadaqat’s name was included in the international Who’s Who directory of professionals which was the first ever distinction of any Pakistani doctor.
Editor: Haroon Christy Munir
I am Dr. Sadaqat Ali; an interventionist and addiction counselor. I am going to share how my friend Sami’s life was in shambles due to addiction and how it turned around due to Intervention. He is now enjoying sober life for the last 15 years. He told me that once his brother walked into his apartment and saw him on the floor, knew in his heart that he was dead and said to himself, thank God it was finally over. He also told me that he gave a great speech at his brother’s wedding and then he promptly stole his brother’s wedding money. Sami’s brother looked into his eyes and said,” Who cares whether you live or die.”
Sami shifted from one drug to another. The drugs were not his problem. He was actually addicted to avoiding uncomfortable feelings, things and situations. This is what we call experiential avoidance. He became an expert at handling uncomfortable confrontations. If anyone tried to talk to him about his problem, he shifted the blame elsewhere. If his mother tried to confront him, he would start playing the role of a victim. He did not do it intentionally; he did it instinctively. He mastered these tricks like a magician. His hunger for pleasure was insatiable; no matter if it was alcohol or drugs, sex or anything else.
The families are caught up in the belief that if their loved one is consuming drugs on a given day, he is not an addict. Though Sami did not take drugs every day, he used to binge on them. He could go on for days or weeks without drugs, but when he was on binge he could consume for almost three days. He would steal his family’s car, sell their possessions leaving his family distraught. Sami told me how he used one little trick for making them all back off. He used to tell them “I will never use drugs, get a job and will pray five times a day.” His family wanted to believe that he was heading in the right direction. After 15 years of addiction, his family was still stuck between hope and fear. His family did not stand a chance against him as they loved him. But he did not love them; instead he loved drugs. Sami shared how he would handle his relationships during his drug consumption days. He would draw all the ‘nice’ people into his life who could play the role of martyrs and accommodate all the digressions that he was making.They wanted to give him a clean slate every day. Actually they were not helping but hurting him. Moreover, drug addicts and other accomplices in his surroundings co-operated with him. They always scratched each other’s back to rub off the uncomfortable feelings, things and situations.
However, his family was stuck and was not getting along well with Sami. His mother bore the brunt of his misconduct. He lied to her, tricked her and preyed on her motherly instincts. His mother was faced with the guilt that had if she had done a better job with his upbringing, he would have never given into the throngs of drug addiction. His mother was haunted by the guilt that it was somehow her fault and therefore she should be punished.