If one of my family members were an alcohol or other drug addict and were not seeking help to deal with his or her addiction, I would call Jeff and Debra Jay and say, “Help.” I know them as admired and treasured friends. But I also know them as professionals with knowledge and experience, both wide and deep, relative to the complicated, treacherous and costly disease — alcoholism, as well as other addictions.
I share the view of these authors that alcoholism is the most serious and destructive of our public health problems. My knowledge and insight relative to the estimated twenty million alcoholics and two million other addicts in the United States was sketchy and limited prior to the death of my daughter Terry to alcoholism at Christmas time 1994. That sad loss of a most promising and engaging young woman whom I loved deeply forced me to delve deeper into the struggles and possible emancipation of addicts such as Terry.
One of the most important and critical steps in the rescue of an alcoholic is the “intervention.” This is the well-planned, carefully structured process in which the family and sometimes close friends join in lovingly, but firmly confronting the alcoholic with his or her illness and the necessity of beginning its treatment. Frequently the addict’s employer is involved in the intervention.
The Jays have carefully assembled here the step-by-step process by which a loving and effective intervention should be constructed and carried out. In their lives and work, the authors have encountered all the myths relative to alcoholics and other addicts, some of them deeply ingrained in the minds of intelligent people. They have patiently and convincingly refuted each of these myths. They have also related the most frequently used excuses of the addict to account for his or her need for alcohol or other drugs and why there is no need for treatment.
Perhaps more to the point is the manner in which the Jays’ work through the mistaken views frequently held by an addict’s family. During the years of Terry’s drinking with its frequently sad results, she did seek help in treatment, counseling, and Alcoholics Anonymous programs. But we were repeatedly told by well-meaning, supposedly informed friends, that we would have to wait until Terry really “hit bottom.” The trouble is that when she “hit bottom,” she died.
Intervention is a way of erecting a “bottom” before such a tragedy. This point is persuasively made by these authors. The pages which follow are going to save many addicts and their families years of suffering, and loss and sorrow. This is a “tough love” book that underscores love. It is a life saving manual for those who would live and love so that others might live.
George McGovern is a former U. S. Senator and 1972 Presidential Nominee. He is the author of many books, including: Terry: My Daughter’s Life-and-Death Struggle with Alcoholism.