After setting up a scene of a parent with a child in the ER for the second time with alcohol poisoning, a blogger at intervene.drugfree.org offers some advice:
People tend to only listen to one person — themselves. And, as a result, they’re only influenced by one person …again — themselves. So, as frustrating as this may be for a parent who would like to sternly say, “You have to stop!” and to have that be enough, the real trick to motivating someone is to get them to convince themselves to make a change for their own good reasons.
The two most important things to do are:
1) STOP trying to motivate your child by telling her about your feelings, thoughts or reasons for change, such as, “You’re worrying me to death!” “I think you HAVE to go to rehab right from the hospital” or “The best reason for you to stop drinking is for your health.”
2) START asking your child questions that are specially-designed to evoke her own good reasons for change.
- Express your anger.
- Confront her with admonitions to stop.
- Tell her your reasons for why she needs to stop drinking by nagging.
- Assume the ER will somehow scare her away from drinking in the long-term.
- Use a “tough love” approach, such as threatening harsh punishments.
- Start by saying, “While I am very concerned about your drinking, I know that it’s ultimately your decision whether you choose to accept help.
- Ask , “Why might you decide to get help for your drinking?”
- Ask, “Have you ever done something you regretted while drinking? What was it?” .
- Ask, “How ready are you to take a next step on getting help (e.g., looking up local specialists with you), on a scale from 1-10, where 1 means not at all and 10 means totally ready?”
- Ask her why she did not pick a LOWER (yes, lower) number?
- (If she said “1″ to the scale question), Ask, “What would turn that “1″ into a “2″?
- Reiterate the good answers AND ignore the bad.
- begin with a simple statement of love and concern…. come straight from the heart.
- recall a time when the alcoholic has been especially helpful to you, or when you have been proud of [him/her]
- make a brief statement about your new understanding of alcoholism as a disease, and your desire for the addict to get help in a formal treatment setting
- This should be followed by a statement of facts about the alcoholic’s negative behavior. As Sargent Joe Friday used to say: “The facts ma’am, just the facts.”
- repeat your love and concern, and then ask the addict to accept help for the illness