Approaching an alcoholic parent, grandparent or elderly friend is a difficult task. Denial is an integral part of the illness and a conversation can turn confrontational remarkably quickly and harsh words and accusations made that can push the alcoholic further away from help.
Many elderly people with alcohol and drug addiction problems do not believe there is a good reason to stop. They find alcohol, drugs or prescription medication an essential coping mechanism for many of the problems that come with old age – grief, isolation, lonliness, loss of mobility and ill health.
What is an Intervention?
An intervention is when a group of people – usually a professional interventionist and family members – organise a meeting with the individual who shows signs of alcoholism or drug addiction. The interventionist will train the family members, perhaps organise rehearsals and try to ensure that the meeting doesn’t become confrontational.
Essential Do’s and Dont’s of Intervention in Seniors
If you suspect an elderly family member is slipping towards addiction read up on the 10 Hidden Signs of Addiction in Seniors, a useful starting point in identifying the problem.
As we explain on our page How to Help Someone with An Addiction, you must have a flexible, caring approach and express your deep concern for the person. Expect defensiveness from them but remain non-confrontational yourself. Present the facts about their drinking and explain why, at their age, it is particularly dangerous compared to when they were younger. Use leverage where possible in a compassionate way: “I think you have a drinking problem and if I leave the grandchildren with you I will be worried that your will be unable to look after them properly.”
Involve others if you can, and do not take the burden upon your shoulders alone. You may risk co-dependency, “whereby the partner or family member becomes enmeshed in an alcoholic or drug addict’s behaviour.” Addiction is a complex and intricate illness and it will be easier to help your elderly loved one with the support of other family members, a respected figure such as a minister or priest, a doctor, a former colleague, another professional such as a addiction interventionist.
Guide them towards professional help – Recommend the self-help groups of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and offer to accompany them. Or phone a rehab clinic for advice from an addictions rehab professional. Elderly people are particularly vulnerable to drug and alcohol abuse, due to their weaker metabolism, and an early intervention could help avoid serious health risks.
Organising an Intervention with a Professional Interventionist
Firstly, the interventionist helps the family plan the intervention. The goals are to make the addict realise the damage they are doing to themselves, and others, and to help them stop. Usually it becomes clear that the only way they will stop is to go into residential rehab treatment where they will receive round the clock medical care and therapy, but there may be a lot of resistance to this.
Once it has been agreed who will attend the intervention, each person will prepare a statement. It is important to stick to the written script and not engage in debate, as they can quickly turn confrontational.
It may take a while for them to accept help, but eventually, with the help of therapists or an interventionist, family members will develop useful skills to positively impact their substance-using loved one.
Contact Us for Advice in Setting Up An Intervention
If you are worried about a friend or a loved one who is not accepting the need to seek treatment, then the Castle Craig admissions team can refer you to a professional who can advise you further about arranging an intervention.
Specialised Alcohol & Drug Treatment for the Elderly
If you are concerned about an elderly loved one, or if you are a senior citizen having problems controlling your alcohol or drug intake, get in touch with Castle Craig’s admissions team. Early recognition and treatment can help reset the damage drug addiction has on your body. If you think someone you love has a drinking problem, contact us to get help and advice on interventions.
30 Years of Treating Addictions
Castle Craig Rehab has over 30 years of experience in treating alcoholism, drugs and gambling addiction. Our integrated residential rehab programme starts with a personalised detox process and medical care. Patients attend the therapy programme, which is made up of specialist therapies and complementary addiction therapies.
This includes individual therapy and group therapies that help each patient address their own personal history and psychological issues. Some of the specialist group and individual therapies that our patients attend include PTSD therapy, Grief-therapy, Eating Disorders group therapy, Women’s group therapy, Cross-Addiction therapy.
Castle Craig is a beautiful country mansion house, set in 50 acres of Scottish countryside. All our facilities are on the same site, we have a full-time medical team, and we have a lift and wheelchair access for less able bodied patients.