How to Overcome Objections During a Drug Or Alcohol Intervention

If you think about the objections I have encountered while facilitating alcohol interventions for other families, you can see that some of them are truly legitimate reasons that would prevent someone from entering into a treatment program. On the other hand, if your loved one does not go to treatment or seek help, he may end up in a psychiatric institution due to a drug or alcohol induced psychosis, losing his freedom because he is in prison, or he will end up dead. So, let us weigh the options, and to put this simply, if he is dead, in prison or in a psychiatric institution, not one of these objections will dominate or matter compared to the potential outcome.

But since the objections are perceived as a problem to the addict, we must respect them but offer him legitimate means to overcome the objections so they will no longer prevent the addict from seeking help.

Intelligently overcome an objection by, 1) listening to what the objection is 2) offer him a solution to the objection, or evidence based on the specific objection 3) share with the addict your fears or concern if they do not seek help, 5) share how you will no longer support or enable the behavior and then, 4) ask them to go to treatment.

Let’s take a look at some common objections and how to deal with them by first listening to the addict, second, offer a solution to the objection or evidence (details, facts and specifics) for overcoming the difference in perception, share with the addict your emotions, fears or concerns if they continue to live this way. Finally you will explain to them what you will or will not do if they do not accept help just before you ask them to go to treatment today.

You will do an assignment that requires each family member to come up with five examples of the addict’s erratic and bizarre behavior and consequence. If he claims he does not have a problem or that his addiction is not as bad as the team is playing it out to be, you just calmly listen then explain to him one of the additional examples that were not mentioned in the letter. You will explain in the exact same format as if you were reading a letter. You explain details, including date or time frame of the incident, the erratic and bizarre behavior (evidence/solution). How the consequence has affected you and the addict along with your fears and concerns (emotions/fears). What you will or will not do anymore (self pledge/leveraging). Finally you again ask him to go to treatment.

“I do not have a problem”

“I understand that you feel you do not have a problem. We feel you have a problem because last week driving home from the bar you got another D.U.I (evidence/solution). I am so scared that one day I will receive a call that you were in an accident and you were killed (emotion, fear). I will not live in fear anymore if you choose not to go to treatment today I will be forced to leave you (self pledge/leveraging). Will you please go to treatment today?”

“I understand that you feel you do not have a problem with drugs and alcohol. We have learned that a drug and alcohol addictions are symptoms of deeper emotional, spiritual and chemical issues. Two weeks ago (time) when you came home (location) high on drugs, you and I sat in the living room as you cried to me telling me that you are miserable and wished your life would change (evidence/solution). I am afraid that you may do something that you will regret (emotion/fear). If you do not seek help, I will no longer your shoulder to cry on, because my giving you a shoulder to cry upon is not allowing you to deal with the root problem (self pledge/leveraging). The treatment center we picked out for you will be able to deal with those issues that are causing you so much pain and will allow you to live pain free. Will you please go to treatment today?

If you would think back to when we were discussing what causes addiction, you will remember that emotional pain, spiritual scaring and a chemical imbalance are the three key culprit ingredients that influence addiction. Therefore, if your loved one says he does not have a problem with drugs or alcohol, you may agree with him. It is very important that you explain to him that the drugs and alcohol are not his problem, but his solution or band-aid to the real problem, those three key ingredients that create addiction. By going to treatment he will deal with those issues so he can live a meaningful life without having to self-medicate. Then you ask him to go to treatment today.

“I will lose my job”

If this is an objection you feel will be a concern to the addict during an alcohol intervention, you would have contacted the Human Resources Department anonymously, asking them the procedures to take if they have an employee with an addiction problem. Most companies have a policy or a Family Medical Leave Act that allows employees to seek help if they have a drug or alcohol problem. There are laws protecting individual employment for those requiring mental health counseling or substance abuse treatment.

Another way to overcome this objection is to let him know his life is more important than work. Jobs will be available for him when he gets better. If he does not seek help, he could end up losing his job or something worse. Weigh the options and outcomes. Once you have overcome the objection, you ask him if he will go.

“I understand that you are concerned about your job, and you do not want to lose it. The night that you fell down the stairs breaking your arm because you were so drunk was it for me. We anonymously contacted your HR department and asked them if an employee needs substance abuse treatment how to approach that situation. They told us everything would be okay, and you will not lose your job as long as you seek the help you need (evidence/solution). We love you and are very concerned about you. I am very concerned about your safety. I feel that if something is not done now to help your addiction, you will lose your job or your life (emotions/fears). If you do not accept help we will no longer cover for you at wok or financially support you (self pledge/leveraging). Will you please go to treatment today?”

“I have to pay my bills”

If this objection comes up, the family would have prepared to pay his bills for him by either expecting him to pay that individual back or given as a generous gift if he accepts help. Another possibility is to have pre-dated checks. Once this objection has been overcome, you ask if he will go to treatment.

“We know that you have bills to pay, and we as your family all decided, if you seek the help you deserve, we will pay your bills for you (evidence/solution). We love and care for you so much we are willing to do whatever it takes to ensure your safety so something bad does not happen (emotions/fears). Also, if you agree to go, we will not expect you to pay us back. Otherwise if you do not go we will not bail you out or support you financially in any way (self pledge/leveraging). We love you! Will you go to treatment today?

“I can’t leave my family for that long”

If this objection comes up, think about what is going to happen to him if he does not seek help. There are only three outcomes of addiction. If he does not receive help, he will be leaving the family for much longer. His addiction will kill him; land him in prison or in a psychiatric institution. Any of these outcomes will result in him being away from the family indefinitely.

Another logical way of overcoming this objection is if you’re self-pledge or leverage is isolating the addict to his addiction, he will not be able to see the family anyway. If this objection comes up, you will need to explain to him that the results of his addiction are going to take him away from the family. Once you have overcome the objection, ask if he will go to treatment.

“We understand that 30 days may seem like a long time to be away from our family. The facility we picked for you has a family day and visitations every week which we will attend (evidence/solution). If you continue to use, you may not be around anymore to see any of us and that terrifies me (emotions/fears). If you do not accept this help, we will be forced to stop inviting you to family parties, and we will not allow you to enter our homes anymore (self pledge/leveraging) because of the pain that was caused last Christmas when you got so drunk that you fell into the Christmas tree (evidence/fears). We want you, the real you, back! Will you go to treatment today?”

“I will quit on my own”

This example may require thinking outside of the box. Has your loved one ever mentioned to any family member that he will quit or stop using drugs or alcohol, yet he is still using. If he has explained to anyone on the intervention team that he will quit, you remind him of that time; and then you proceed to explain to him that he has attempted before on one or multiple occasions and has failed every time. Once you have explained to him that he has failed every attempt to quit on his own, you will explain to him that you are not going to take the chance of something tragic happening to him if he fails to quit this time. You then ask him to go to treatment.

“We understand that admitting yourself into a program is a difficult decision to make. Do you remember when you got arrested by the police a couple of months ago for possession of drugs, and when I bailed you out of jail you told me that you would never use drugs or alcohol again? You promised me you would never use, but you are still using. Addiction is not something that you can overcome on your own. You have proven to yourself and all of us you cannot stop on your own (evidence/solution). I am terrified that the next phone call I receive from the police will be that I need to come down and identify your body (emotions/fears). We are not willing to take another chance with your life. We will not accept this anymore! If you do not accept help we will not allow you to contact us for help or support (self pledge/leveraging). Will you please go to treatment today?”

“I will do counseling”

This objection can cause a road block for some families. If your loved one is willing to go to a counselor, is this decision going to produce the same results as going to treatment? Absolutely not! Think back to the stages of addiction, and ask yourself if seeing a counselor will be sufficient for treating emotional pain, spiritual scaring and chemical imbalances? If you answered no, then you are learning and getting closer to facilitating your own intervention. Addiction is a very powerful obsession that curses the individual every waking hour of every day. If he is lucky he may see a therapist once a week. Typically he will see his therapist twice a month. If he is unable to quit on his own, how can he be expected to quit by seeing a therapist a couple of times a month. This option is postponing the inevitable, which for him is to seek a higher level of care. The obsession, ritual and habit of using his drug of choice overpowers the very little amount of healing that can be gained in a one- hour therapy session a couple of times a month.

In some cases your loved one may agree to see a therapist every day of the week. This is better, but most therapists are not specialized in addiction. Even if he agrees to see an addiction therapist every day, the therapist will not be qualified to provide medication for chemical imbalances. You will need to hire a Psychiatrist to deal with the chemical imbalances. Another problem will be all of the time the addict will have between each session. He will still be dealing with a very powerful obsession to use. More then likely he will ultimately fail, and you will have spent thousands of dollars to find this out.

If he is willing to go to a counselor, this should be seen as a good sign. This should be seen as his willingness to get better, but merely getting therapy is not intense enough for him to get better. If this objection comes up, you will need to express to him he is too far into his addiction for one-on-one counseling to be effective.

“We are so happy to hear that you are willing and ready to seek help for your addiction. Unfortunately, going to a therapist will not be adequate for dealing with addiction. You will have too much time on your hands. The therapist is not equipped to deal with addiction, and our money could be spent in a more effective way. Do not sell yourself short! If you want to receive the best treatment that offers the highest level of success, going to the treatment program we picked out for you is the best option (evidence/solution). We love and care for you too much to rely on help that is not as effect and take the chance of something bad happing to you (emotion/fears). If you chose not to seek help today I will no longer wait for you to get better. I will move on with my life with, or without you (self pledge/leveraging). Will you go to treatment?”

“I will go to an out-patient program but not in-patient”

Out-patient treatment is better than nothing. For the purpose of the intervention we are focusing on the addict entering into a residential program. Statistics show that those who only do an O.P. program have 2% -7% chance of staying sober for six months. Those who do a residential or in-patient program have a 7% -12% chance of staying sober. Those who do residential or in-patient with an out-patient program that totals a sixty day program, 25% stay sober. Those who do a total of ninety days of treatment with a minimum of thirty days in-patient, and the other sixty day with in-patient, residential, out-patient or sober living, an astonishing 65% stay sober. Do the comparisons yourself. Is an out-patient program best for him in the beginning, or would out-patient be better after he does an in-patient or residential program?

If this objection comes up, it is recommended that you highly encourage and only accept in-patient or residential program for him. If you have tried everything in your power to convince him to go to an in-patient or a residential program and he still refuses, you have two options. 1) You can either put in place the self-pledge and leveraging, or 2) you can accept the out-patient scenario under two conditions. First, the addict must commit, if he fails once while in an out-patient program, he is pulled out of the program, and out-patient is no longer an option for him. Secondly, he will immediately agree to admit himself into an in-patient or residential program if he has failed in the out-patient program.

“We have done our research and have found that for you to maximize your success in staying sober and dealing with your addiction, an in-patient or residential program is by far the best avenue to pursue. Statistics show your chance for success in an out-patient program is below 5% (evidence/solution). We are not willing to take the chance of your failing with terrible results and something tragic happening. We could not live our lives knowing we should have sought a higher level of care for you (emotions/fears). We have a plane ticket ready for you, and your bags are packed. If you choose not to go you will need to take your packed bags and leave our home immediately and you are not welcome back until you agree to go (self pledge/leveraging) Will you go to treatment?”

“We can see you will not agree to admit yourself into an in-patient or residential program. We have two options: either you pack your belongings and leave our home, or if you fail once while in the out-patient program, you agree to immediately check yourself into the treatment program that we chose for you. Which will it be?

You need to make sure that the team does not just give up and agree to an out-patient program the first time this objection comes up. The team will need to work on the addict, trying to get him to agree to go to the program the team picked out. If you are stonewalled, and the only two options are 1) for him to reap the consequences of denying help (self-pledge and leveraging) 2) or going to an out-patient program, it is best for the team to accept the out-patient program.

“I have pets to take care of”

During the drug intervention preparation of objections, if this objection comes up, there will be a family member that will take care of his pets. If this comes up, you let the addict know so-in-so will feed, water and walk the pets while he is gone. You then ask him to go. Also, ask the treatment centers if they allow pet visitation. Some do!

“Jonny has agreed to take care of your pets while you are gone. He will go to your home every day to check on your pets, feed and water them and walk them for exercise. You life is the most important thing, and if it requires us to help with your pets in order for you to save your life, we will do that for you (evidence/solution). We feel that if you live this way much longer you are going to end up in jail or dead (emotions/fears). The program we have chosen for you is a great program and we know that you will like it there. If you decide not to go you will need to surrender you vehicle and cell phone because we are not going to pay for you to contact your drug dealers or drive while high (self pledge/leveraging). Will you go to treatment?”

“If I go to treatment it will affect me the rest of my life and be on my record”

Federal laws protect patient confidentiality rights, and it is against the law for any facility, doctor, health care practitioner or therapist to reveal any information regarding a patient’s personal situation, treatment attendance or personal information. There are also treatments facilities that are in-home based and will come to the home of the addict and treatment will be performed in a private setting. If this objection comes up, you let him know he is protected by federal law, and his information will be held in complete confidence. Then you ask him if he will go.

“We understand that this is a big decision to make, and you’re afraid people will find out about your seeking help, and it could affect the rest of your life. We have made several phone calls and have talked with a number of different professionals about your privacy. We found out that federal law protects you and your privacy is held with the utmost confidential practice. Your information, records and files will not be exposed to anyone (evidence/solution). All we ask of you is to take the time to heal yourself so that we can have the real you back. We love you and want you to be happy (emotions/fears). Your bags are packed for you to either leave are home until you are ready to change your life (self pledge/leveraging) or to head to treatment. It is your choice. Will you go to treatment?”

“No! I will not go”

If this objection comes up during an alcohol intervention, you need to dig deeper to discovery why he will not go. The best way to overcome the objection of his saying “no,” is simply to ask him why. When you do, one of two things will happen; he will either get angry and more and more defiant about seeking help, or he will give you an objection. Since you know how to overcome the objections and have prepared for possible objections, you will then overcome the objection when you have pulled it out of him. If he continues to deny the help and you are seeing that you are not getting anywhere with him, you then move forward with your self-pledge and leveraging.

As I mentioned before, objections are a good thing. If the addict just refuses and says no, you ask him why. By asking him why you are pulling out and probing for objections, such that, you may overcome them to make it easier for him to accept help. When the addict tells us that he will not go to treatment for reason A, B, or C, we are able to overcome those objections, making it easier for him to accept help.