How to Help an Addict


What do you do if someone has a problem? How do you intervene? Well, there are specific techniques for intervention, one from the Johnson Institute in the USA, which I like, and the process is as follows: number one, I love you, care for you. What’s the next word which has a line all on its own? Nah, that’s the one, it isn’t. It’s AND because if you say BUT it’s wiped out the love. I love you AND not BUT and that’s very important.

Number three, “I am concerned for you.” You can say this to a staff member. You can say it to a wife. You can say to whomever. I love you and I’m concerned for you. I care for you and I’m concerned for you.

“I observe.” Now this is important, one, two, three. Fact, fact, fact, that’s very important. You don’t say, “And I think, you could do so much better at school if you…” that’s a thought. “I observe your school reports which have changed dramatically over the last two years.” That’s a fact. “I observe that you are quite incapable of coming back at the time that you said you were going to do.” That’s a fact. “I observe that your weight has changed dramatically.” That’s a fact. Because if you give opinions there, you’re into a discussion that will last in the next twenty years, just give facts.

“I suggest” and you really got to work this out in advance what it is that you’re suggesting. Do you suggest a change of behavior? Do you suggest going to rehab? Do you suggest… whatever. Make sure you know what you’re suggestions are. Work this out in advance. Discuss it with the other people who are involved, your wife, other people and the staff and so on. What are you going to suggest? Because you’re going to have to stick to it. So don’t have it airy fairy, work it out. What are you going to suggest?

And five, and six rather. If you don’t agree I shall whatever, and you’re going to have to stick to it. If you say, “I’ll divorce you!” And then when he does exactly that, you say, “Oh, well let’s give you another chance.”  And you say, “Oh, well that’s fine. Let’s carry on. She doesn’t really mean it.” So, don’t say something you’re not going to be able to carry through. You need to be able to say precisely what it is. Don’t overdo it. Give the sanction that is appropriate and stick to it.

So that’s how one intervenes. But if you do it out of a sense of self-righteousness it won’t work. If you do it out of a sense of superiority it won’t work. Look at that. “ I love you. I care for you.” That’s where it has to come from and it’s very difficult.

If somebody is behaving absolutely abominably try to remember what it was like before that happened. One of is by encourage women to do is to remember themselves by their maiden name. I will say to my wife, “Do you remember Margaret Ellis?” Be that person. Have that expectation of your life. Have that hope for the future and from that position say to Robert, “Your behaviour is unacceptable to me.”