Tag: Jonathan Edgeley

Helping someone who doesn’t believe they’re addicted

Behavioural health advisor Jonathan Edgeley helps people beat their addictions and guides their families through the turmoil of dysfunctional relationships. Previously he spoke to Merrick Life about how he uses his personal experience of addiction to help others.

In the second part of this interview, Jonathan explains that when a family is on its way to rock bottom, an intervention may be the only solution.

“An intervention is where a family have got a situation where they are convinced their loved one’s repeating patterns of problematic behaviour are having a very negative impact on their lives and the family’s. It is becoming very disruptive – but the loved one doesn’t accept they have a problem.

“An intervention is a very loving thing to do for somebody. You will probably have heard that everyone needs to reach rock bottom before they are able to get help.  An intervention, essentially, moves the bottom up to where they are.

“We create what we call a ‘recovery team’ within the family.  They could be the partner, children and a couple of close friends, brothers, sisters, mums and dads, those people who have got a vested interest in helping this person get well.

“Generally, we get them all around the table, no less than three really, but up to seven or eight people.

“We then allay any of their fears and resentments by taking them through an educational process on the disease concept.  What we are looking to achieve is understand that this person is suffering with an illness, rather than it being a choice.

“We need to understand how they feel about this person, whether there is anger, whether there is rejection. What we are doing is, we are looking at a team, and we are looking for a captain. Somebody whose spirit is strong, doesn’t hold any kind of real anger or resentment towards the individual and is going to be able to lead that family recovery team.

Love and hope

“Essentially, we are creating a compassionate family team that are willing to meet their family member with love and hope.

“We have to explain that their loved one didn’t make a conscious decision one morning to be an addict, and to wreck their life, their career and family. It’s not a moral deficiency or a choice in that respect. They are suffering with a degenerative illness which, if it isn’t arrested, will only get progressively worse.

“By following a proven model we guide each family member to write a letter, that states they love them, they are there to help, however they are becoming increasingly concerned about their drinking or substance misuse and are willing them to get the help they so desperately need .

“The letters are written without blame or shame and are created to connect on a feelings level with empathy and love ensuring the person receiving them is left in the knowledge that help is on offer.

“The planning stage can be extremely powerful and at times bring up strong emotions. However, it’s essential on the day of the intervention the family stay calm and have practised their letters; remain focussed and are not drawn off track.

“Once they’ve written those letters, we share them with one another in the group.

The bottom line

“Then we move them to something called ‘Bottom Line’. This is something each family member is prepared to do should their loved one not accept the help. For example, ‘if you don’t accept the help offered today, then I will have no alternative but to move out of the family home and take the children’.

“That might be one.  Another one might be, if it is a child, ‘if you don’t take the help that is on offer, then I’ll be taking your car from you’.

“So, it is something that is quite significant, but it has to be something they are prepared to do. This is really, really important and is an essential part of the intervention process. The family must stick to their bottom lines otherwise it could scupper any chance of them accessing treatment in the future.

“We invite the loved one to a family meeting, on a certain date, at a certain place. This is generally a mutual venue or in their family home.

addiction intervention

The family must stick to their bottom lines


“The family are there, we have the process. We know who is saying what and when. They will bring their letters; they sit down. It is a very, very powerful and moving experience.

“I facilitate that process because generally, we can expect a degree of kickback from the loved one.

“When everyone says what they need to say, the loved one will either agree to accepting the help or not.

“If they say ‘yes’, great. The family hug their loved and explain they have been working on finding them a treatment facility that meets their love for horses, the outdoors or specialises in music therapy and other things that connect with the heart of the family member. ‘We’ve got a car outside, your bag is packed, and we are good to go’.  And that’s essentially how it works.

‘I’m not going’

“Now, if that person says ‘no, I’m not going’. We hand it back to a family member to deliver their bottom lines.

“90% of the time people will accept it then and they will go.

“In situations where they don’t, then we just have to leave it. Everybody implements their bottom lines and sticks to them. This is when the family need to pull together and support one another to stick to their bottom lines. Generally, what happens is the situation comes back around again. They get to a point where the individual goes “I can’t handle this anymore. I’ll go.”

“This might be a week or a month later. But generally, the situation is turned around, and they do accept the help at some point and go down the process.

Emotionally charged addiction intervention

“This is often an emotionally charged situation. What I’m there to do is advise the family and ensure they are looked after emotionally and therapeutically.

“I can create options in terms of the treatment facility, so that it meets their needs and their budget.

“I’m there from that initial consultation, through to intervention planning, through to intervention, through to transportation to the treatment, through to case managing the situation for their loved one while they are in treatment, feeding back to the family.

“Then on discharge creating an appropriate aftercare programme, so they reintegrate appropriately with the family and within the community and back into work.

“Essentially I’m there to offer somebody a chance of a better life. A chance of a life without mind and mood altering substances or behaviours.”


Jonathan Edgeley is the Founder of Montrose Advisory which offers independent support and guidance to families seeking a solution to a behavioural health problem. He takes a family through the complex world of addiction and mental healthcare and creates robust care pathways to meet their loved one’s specific needs, circumstances and budget.


Addiction ruins relationships, take it from my experience

Addiction and controlling behaviour can ruin relationships. Jonathan Edgeley knows the story from both sides.

Behavioural health advisor Jonathan Edgeley is uniquely qualified to help people beat their addictions and guide their families through the turmoil of dysfunctional relationships.

As a teenager filled with fear, inadequacy and self-loathing he began looking for other activities to fulfil his inquisitive mind and channel his insatiable appetite to change how he felt. At secondary school he found a new world of drink and drugs that would take his life on a rollercoaster ride of highs and ultimate lows.

Throughout his 20s, while outwardly successful professionally, his life was spiralling out of control.

Finally, after an intervention from his father, he accepted that he needed help and so started the long road to recovery. That journey began in 2006 and four years ago Jonathan decided to put his own experiences of addiction to good use helping others.


He said: “I grew up in a world where money was deemed a token of success and well-being. If you were wealthy you were well.  I watched my mother and father’s marriage break down due to alcoholism on my mother’s side which had a devastating effect catapulting my already self-destructive behaviour to another level.

“My mother and father eventually divorced and my mother began to drink more heavily.  Sadly, four years ago my mother died due to drinking. The loss of my mother hit me like a train

“However in her death she provided me with the greatest gift. The evidence I needed – alcohol kills. I had stopped, and other people can too. I just needed to get the message out that recovery is possible.

“What enables me to connect with a family or somebody who’s got an addiction, is the fact that I am an addict. I am in recovery, I have been there and I know the route out.

“I’ve been through the whole process of having to go through treatment, and the run-up to that, and how bad things had to get in order for me to actually realise that I’d got a very serious illness.

“I can talk to people about that and explain how my life spiralled out of control, and how I’ve managed to gain a degree of power over it. I have experienced relapsed. I’ve experienced marriage, children, births, deaths – all of those things in recovery. The takeaway from this is I didn’t have to use mind or mood altering substances to get through it.

Emotional mood swings

Jonathan’s work now involves him linking with family lawyers. They call on his expertise and experience when a problem is identified and a family member needs professional help. The situation has typically got to the stage of wanting to leave a loved one because of their drinking, emotional mood swings or volatility or the children are suffering and at risk of psychological trauma.

The work is much easier if the person concerned is open to help.  In that scenario Jonathan will talk to those involved to get background and understand their situation in granular detail before putting together a tailored pathway to meet their needs, including therapies.

Jonathan added: “When I have that conversation with their families and loved ones, I can really connect with them. Meeting them where they are at that particular point and help them make some realisations and compassionately guide them throughout the process.

“I can connect with somebody who says, ‘this guy gets it’. What I’m able to do is go in at a different level completely from, say, a GP.

“I can say something like ‘I understand, you’re all right, you’re safe, you are going to be ok. I’ve been where you’ve been. I want to help because I’m sure that you don’t want to live the life that you are living now. Would you agree?’

“And often, they will say ‘no, I don’t. But I’m petrified of doing something about it because I’m not quite sure how it’s going to end up. What I know for certain while I’m using drugs or I’m drinking is what the outcome is going to be. I get high, I drink, I forget’.”

Rebuild relationships

The best-case scenario is the person receives the help they need and the partner and family members are willing to try to rebuild relationships with professional guidance.

But frequently those with the addiction are not prepared to accept they have a problem that needs tackling. The family concerned may then have to go through an emotional and often painful process that includes an intervention.

Jonathan said: “You know, this is the dark side of the addiction. The disease is so powerful that it wants to keep you in its grip. The important thing is that an intervention is approached with love and compassion. The family often require a degree of education to help them understand that addiction is a disease not a choice.

“I know all of these things and feel all these emotions going on. Whatever the addiction might be, it changes how they feel. And they’re scared of these feelings coming very powerfully back when they stop taking drink or drugs, or whatever it is they’re doing.

“And, it is really, really sad but that’s where it goes. So, if you can imagine that the people on the receiving end of that, the children, the wives, the husbands, the family members, the fathers, the mothers, all of these other people that are witnessing somebody who is in the grips of an addiction.

“They see they are slowly killing themselves. But that person is in such denial, people around them feel quite powerless to do anything.

Enabling behaviour

“They don’t know how to approach it; they don’t know what to say. They’re fearful that they push them further away, they are fearful that they may then leave. They are fearful that they may then carry on drinking or taking drugs and die early.

“This enabling behaviour unfortunately is pushing the loved one further into their addiction and supporting their using. This has to stop, as it can lead to further upset and ultimately death.

“All of these things have got a counter-argument to them. It is a positive counter-argument, that if you don’t do something, they are going to die anyway. If we don’t do something now, then this thing will only get worse.

“I’ve never seen anybody get better without clinical or therapeutic intervention to help them overcome their issues.”

The second part of this interview Intervention: How do you help someone who doesn’t believe they have a problem? will be published shortly.


Jonathan Edgeley is the Founder of Montrose Advisory which offers independent support and guidance to families seeking a solution to a behavioural health problem. He takes a family through the complex world of addiction and mental healthcare and creates robust care pathways to meet their loved one’s specific needs, circumstances and budget.