The family attempted an impromptu intervention on the drug addicted son, and it turned out great…..for the son.
They say that drug addicts, for the most part, are of above average intelligence. They also say that addicts are often calculating, charismatic and selfish. Just FYI, these traits together are a great combination for the drug addict or alcoholic (basically the same thing), yet a horrible combination for the family, friends and colleagues around him or her.
I’m going to take a quick leap to the actual point of this article, which has to do with what I believe to be among the top 2 or 3 reasons for utilizing the services of an experienced, shrewd, time-tested interventionist or intervention service, but there’s a caveat…
Just a quick disclaimer, I am not a licensed clinician or physician or anything medical whatsoever, nor am I an employee of, or in any way professionally affiliated with FoxWhole Recovery Services from a recovery services standpoint. Everything I say is the result of 25 years of hardcore drug addiction and somewhere around 12 to 14 trips to residential and PHP drug rehab, some of which included an initial stay in a medical detox facility. From about 1996 to 2015 I basically went from rehab to sober living to recovery home to rehab to sober living to therapist and so on. I tried Scientology. I tried Orthodox Judaism. My parents even blew 6 grand on sending me to Mexico for 3 days in order to try an experimental treatment called Ibogaine therapy, which was not legal in the U.S. There were a couple of points during this 20 year stretch where I’d managed to put 2 1/2 to 3 years of sobriety together and actually worked in treatment and managed two different sober living homes. The point being, my views are entirely experiential, both from my own experiences as well as observations of other’s experiences.
On a side note, if you’re reading this and all of a sudden freaking out that you or your loved one is destined to go through the 15-20 year revolving door of drug rehabs and sober livings, as I did, you can breathe easy. There are different severity levels of addiction. From the weekend user that goes a bit overboard all the way up to the hope-to-die, won’t-stop-for-anything addict that will, without hesitation, sell their soul for one measly hit of crack. Between those two points there are countless levels of severity, each affecting different people in different ways.
Long story short, I’m basically the worst type of addict, and I saw this pattern in myself even very early on, as far back as high school. There aren’t many of us out there with my type of addiction, or at least not that I’ve seen. However, you can also flip it and use my story as a source of hope, because if I can get sober then truly anyone can 🙂
So, what is the caveat? First off, if you haven’t done so yet then you need to jump over to the Philosophy / Who We Are page and quickly read paragraph #2 in the upper section. It’s the bold italicized text that explains how addiction is unlike any other malady known to mankind. Think about it, diabetes is a physical illness; clinical depression is a mental/psychological illness. Neither of them is fatal or progressive if treated or managed correctly. Conversely, addiction exists on 3 levels as opposed to 1 level like the others. And it is chronic, progressive, and fatal! My point in saying all of this is that we are dealing with an entirely different animal.
So back to the caveat. To be a talented cardiologist one does not have to have had heart or arterial problems themself. To be a talented trial attorney one does not have to have been involved in legal matters on a personal level. With addiction, however, human forces create barriers around the addiction as a means of protecting its existence. Since the addiction eventually becomes more important than food, shelter, family, career and basically anything of monetary or emotional value, those protective measures must become stronger, wiser, more cunning, and more resilient than the opposing forces from loved ones that are trying to expose and starve the addiction.
Thus the caveat is, to be broadly effective, insightful, and in tune with the client while in the role of an addiction interventionist or recovery coach, or substance abuse counselor or therapist or whatever, he or she must have ample personal experience with addiction, as well as the many ways it manifests and interacts within the sufferer’s mind and body. If the client is a true addict, that is, an addict like me, then they will likely be able to manipulate their way around any intervention unless it is administered by a seasoned professional who themself has also experienced the very lows of substance abuse as well as the highs of having persevered through it and achieved lasting sobriety.
Any non-addict interventionist or other type of substance abuse professional will of course disagree with my assessment.
Here is an example of where my thoughts come from. On 3 or 4 occasions, while in treatment and meeting with a non-addict therapist, I attempted to explain this recurring thing I was going through. Quite often, during any random time of day, I am literally emotionally catapulted to a specific moment in my past where I was smoking crack. I can taste it, I can smell it, I envision my surroundings exactly as how I remember. Whatever I happen to be doing at that moment is instantly back-burnered. My heartbeat goes crazy. I’m filled with adrenaline, and the only thing on my mind is that pipe in my mouth and the lighter in my hand. It’s called euphoric recall, and it’s as if my mind and body are instantly taken hostage by that experience. It hits me with the same speed and force as fight or flight.
The gravity of this type of euphoric recall is not like remembering the wonderful borscht your grandmother used to make. It’s not even in the same universe, and when I drew this scene for these therapists they just gave me a blank stare. One of them asked me where do I think these daydreams come from. My response was, “daydreams?” (I got up and walked out) Another one suggested I find some new hobbies (that one didn’t even merit a response).
I’m not saying they’re bad therapists. What I am saying is that for someone like me, going through these types of issues, it doesn’t work.
When my family attempted to have an intervention on me that day, they were completely ill-equipped, but let’s just say for a moment that they knew all the mechanics of an intervention to the same degree as someone like Billy. They still would not have been successful, and that is because the protective barriers I have built around my crack-cocaine addiction manifest themselves in the form of cunning, strategic, and calculating manipulation skills that enable me to run circles around them. When they asked where I was spending all my money, I immediately responded that I had been gambling too much. Mind you, admitting excessive gambling was by no means a good thing, but in my family using drugs is viewed far worse than gambling, excessive or not. Then when they asked why I was so skinny, I immediately replied that I had been going through some depression in lieu of poor grades in college along with being placed on academic probation (because I was smoking crack-cocaine all day every day) and consequently was not eating well or taking care of myself in general.
One minute they are accusing me of using drugs, and the next they’re taking me food shopping, buying me a gym membership, and giving me cash to have so that I could go out with friends and do fun things to counter the depression. Guess where I spent all the cash??? I’m not proud of how I treated my family, I love them dearly, and I was raised with strong values in a loving home, but in the face of addiction none of that matters. I will say and do what I have to in order to get and ingest what I need to. THAT is addiction!
With basically zero effort I was able to take control of the situation and guide them in the direction I wanted. Someone without personal addiction history could not have seen this coming. They could not grasp how my addict mind so quickly and seamlessly diffused their original thoughts and objective. Part of the interventionist’s talent and experience has nothing to do with the mechanics of the intervention. It has to do with seeing through the many faces and facades of the addict, and this simply cannot be accomplished to the same degree by someone without personal experience in both addiction and recovery.
Addiction is exactly the opposite of other illnesses. With cancer or diabetes you’re desperately trying to get rid of them. With addiction your objective is to protect it and feed it. It sounds morbid, but it’s true. Go to 100 people who are currently active in their substance abuse and ask if they would rather have money for drugs or instead stop using and get a ride to drug rehab. If less than 98 of them opt for the money then you need to pinch yourself because you’re either having a dream or not living in reality.
So at the end of the day, whether you are hiring an intervention service, a sober coach, a private therapist or some other addiction treatment professional, I encourage you to hire one that is a recovering addict or alcoholic themself. In addition, they should be active in their own recovery and present themselves as such. And lastly, in terms of sobriety time, my suggestion would be no less than 8 or 10 years sober.
Whatever your story or situation is, I wish you the very best. And remember, as long as we’re above ground there is always hope 🙂