This is the time for holiday cheer and family memories and Norman Rockwell-esque Christmas scenes with smiling families gathered around a tree or a fire. Hopefully, not both. The reality for families of the 20 million adults in the U.S. challenged by addiction to alcohol or other drugs is more like the beginning of the Grinch tale, than the end. (Watch the YouTube video or see the online article)
Holidays are a stressful time in addition to being a time of joy. Alcoholics and non-alcoholics alike drink to ease stress. The alcoholic can't stop at one. Or six. Or on his own. And how many times, after a tear-filled holiday or blacked-out Christmas on the couch has the drinker vowed: Next holiday will be better, I promise? It's part of the way we alcoholics protect our drug. We shove the quit date off to buy one more day or week or season. We make promises. And sometimes it isn't even that we mean to break them. An alcohol abuser can quit but won't… an alcoholic wants to quit but can't. Not on his own anyway.
They quit with help. A family intervention is one way to get that help.
Two questions come up: First… Is it Grinchlike to confront the issue during the holiday? (And it's the alcohol, not the person, that's the issue.) Second… can't it wait til the New Year?
First, it's not cruel. On the contrary. It may be the best gift you ever give the person with the disease and the family around him or her. Inside every person sick with this disease is a trembling, sorry, sad person dying to feel well again. Invite him or her out onto the path to recovery. Professional interventionists are especially well-trained to do this with compassion and understanding.
Second, There's no better time than the present is the antiquated saying. In the case of the disease of alcoholism, there's no worse time than waiting for tomorrow, or the New Year. You wouldn't imagine postponing treatment for a chronic, fatal, progressive disease like cancer. Why postpone it for a chronic, fatal, progressive disease like alcoholism? If the worry is that it wouldn't be the holiday without that person near, what have the past few holidays told you about that… and what if there isn't a next holiday?