Co-Worker Drug and Alcohol Interventions

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When a family member has a drug and alcohol problem, setting up an intervention is often the agreed-upon solution. Doing so encourages the substance abuser to accept an offer for treatment.

In term of coworkers, the issue is more delicate. Coworkers may feel reticent to conduct an intervention for fear of work-related repercussions, a desire to keep things in the workplace separate from personal issues – and many other reasons. However, coworkers can offer an unbiased source of compassion for which the addict may respond favorably to.

For example, a middle-aged woman is single and has no one to answer to at her home. In the workplace, she begins to come in drunk and high several days per week. Coworkers notice her personal hygiene has become less of a priority, her productivity has suffered, and she is irritable on a daily basis. She seems restless and discontent until cocktail hour hits and she pours herself a drink. As a result, coworkers meet with one another to discuss the possibility of an intervention. Although it may seem daunting at first, it could be a lifesaver. Active addiction versus treatment often means the difference between life and death.

For addict and alcoholic workers for which family members are not an integral part of their lives, having an intervention hosted on their behalf in the workplace may be evermore valuable.

Who is the “Identified Patient?”

Coworkers watch as the addict or alcoholic, known in the family system as the “identified patient”, continues to sabotage his or her own path toward happiness. Easily aggravated, the person exhibits mood swings and anxiety on a daily basis. He or she lashes out at coworkers more and more frequently. Inter-office tiffs as a result of the person’s broken promises to stop drinking on the job or to stop abusing chemicals during work events are common occurrences.

Coworkers of the addict or alcoholic want to help the identified patient recover from chemical dependency — but find that it is not possible as pleas to reach for outside help fall on deaf ears.

Herein lies the value of an intervention in the work place. Coworkers can feel as though they constitute members of a family. Personal issues such as marital woes and parenthood struggles are shared with one another. Thus, a workplace intervention is determined to be a likely scenario. Coworkers collaborate with the addict’s family members to prepare the intervention. Integrating a professional interventionist into the plan is strongly recommended. He or she will offer unbiased advice as to how, when and where the intervention should take place. He or she will provide informative resources for which participants can utilize. Specializing in the dialogue that is most effective in an intervention is also a benefit of paying for a professional interventionist.

The Planning of your Co-Workers Intervention

Pre-planning is a crucial component of a successful intervention.

Coworkers and family members meet in-person and speak over the phone to exchange information relating to the addict or alcoholic. They decide upon a treatment program that is logistically and feasibly possible. Arrangements are made with the drug and alcohol treatment program’s intake manager beforehand. Payment terms are understood and decided upon among members.

During the planning process, participants in the intervention should read up on the subject as much as possible. The more information the family members – and coworkers – absorb, the better equipped all parties will be to handle any reaction the addict or alcoholic experiences upon entering the group forum. Upon learning more about the disease, all participants will better understand why the addict has behaving in the ways he has. Impetuses behind historical behavioral patterns come to light. Members learn why the person cannot simply stop – it is beyond a matter of willpower or personal weakness. It is not a moral failure. Addiction and alcoholism represents a serious affliction of the mind, body and spirit. Barring professional attention, the disease leads people down a path headed for incarceration, institutions or death. Nobody wants that for their loved one or for their beloved coworker. Hence the

The last step before the actual drug addiction intervention is for all participants to make lists of how the addiction or alcoholism has affected them. They use the term “I” rather than “you” to preclude a confrontational tone. The meeting is non-judgmental in nature, but firm.

Consequences are clearly outlined if the coworker decides not to seek treatment. For example:

  • Unemployment may result, sans a severance package
  • Family members will cut financial and emotional ties with the identified patient
  • The company cell phone and vehicle will be taken away

The intervention itself usually lasts one to two hours. If the coworkers and family members are successful in breaking through the addict’s walls of denial, then he or she has already determined who will transport the addict to treatment. In many cases, the addict’s bags have already been packed, and a car service is outside the door of the intervention room waiting to leave for the airport. The interventionist will accompany the client to treatment and make sure the transition from the real world to a treatment facility is as smooth as possible.

What Follows the Intervention

Following the intervention, the interventionist will touch base with coworkers and family members after the patient’s treatment stint commences. Checking in on the progress of the client lets all parties involved know that the interventionist cares about the follow-up results of the intervention.


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