Intervention – Don’t Believe The Hype

There is a very popular show on cable television, I believe it is on A&E, called “Intervention”. The show is an hour long per episode and is broken into two half hour segments. The first half features the addict in the addicted state ruining their lives and the lives of everyone around them. The family talks about how the addict uses around them, forces them to give money to procure their drug of choice, steals the family car, whatever.
Then, the intervention specialist comes in and arranges the intervention. They set up a meeting and bring in the addict, unsuspecting and bombard them with a massive guilt trip. They then force the addict into treatment. Usually at the end they do a follow up right after the addict has left treatment to say how good they are doing now. They don’t show the addict in six months, a year or three years. I am willing to bet that the reason is that they are no longer clean.
Well, I am here to tell you that it doesn’t work that way. First of all, they find the worst of the worst addicts. Most addicts I know do not steal their family’s cars. I know one person who one time took his sister’s car keys to cop and then brought the car back. I do know some people who have used a parent’s or family member’s spare car with permission. Secondly, on these shows (at least all the episodes that I have seen) the family members of the addicts are total enablers. They hand over money whenever the addict asks. They let the addict rule the house. Addicts are not monsters. Yes, the may do some bad shit now and then, but usually they love their family, they do not wish to burn the one bridge that has always been their for them. These people let the addicts rule the entire house, often the extended family as well. They then wonder why their child, spouse, whoever acts this way. It is human nature pure and simple. People bush the limits to see what they can get away with. I’m sorry, but these people are almost as much at fault as the addict.
Anyone who knows almost anything about me knows that I absolutely adore Courtney Love. I have read many interviews where she said that she ultimately felt that she was at fault for Kurt Cobain’s suicide because she participated in and allowed an intervention to take place at their shared home. She said that they took an addicted, incredibly depressed man and made him feel ganged up upon. She explained that it was at this point that he refused treatment and would disappear into the Seattle underworld for days or weeks at a time. When at first he refused treatment she told him that he couldn’t get high in the house. After the intervention back fired, she stated that she told him to ONLY do drugs in the houses he got out of control. She said that the intervention lead to his suicide. She is of course taking the blame for something that is ultimately not her fault, but she is right.
I personally, have never had an intervention pulled on me, but my husband has. It was before we were together, shortly after his family found out about his heroin use. He was able to hide it for a few years, going to work every day, mail ting relationships, having money etc. his girlfriend at the time would steal hiss mom’s ATM card while he was at work, get money, put the card back, go in town, get high, and be back before he got home. She played it off to him that she was going out boosting while he was at work, which since they did this together, would seem legit. One day his parents’ card got declined for a purchase of a hundred dollars or so when they should have been thousands. Now they had been spending a lot, but they knew that they should not be broke. They called the police and the FBI got involved. They brought back pictures of my hubby’s ex, and her friend at the ATM. They could press charges and get the money back or no charges, no money. The problem was that they were going to charge my husband as an accomplice. They didn’t want him with the felony and a federal charge, so they kicked out the girlfriend and let it go. He did, however, have to come clean about why she would be stealing all of this money.
They were shocked to discover that he had been using for years. He came home from work one day to find his whole family waiting. Brothers, sister-in-laws, aunts, etc. I don’t know how it works everywhere, but Maryland has a law that if a certain number of people stage an intervention and say that a person needs treatment, then that person has to go. They don’t have to stay.
So, as the law required, my husband went into in-patient rehab. He stayed for a few days and then left AMA (against medical advice). When he left, his relationship with his family was shot, he move into an apartment in Baltimore where you can stay for $10 a night with a bunch of other addicts. His habit got way, way worse then it was. His relationship with his parents has now recovered, but not with all of his family.
We are both now clean and sober, but he didn’t get clean due to the intervention. That is the kicker, you can not make an addict get clean. You can force them into treatment, but if they don’t want it, really want it, they will relapse. This is why so many addicts on parole or probation that have months or years of back of time, go back to jail after submitting a dirty urine or because they failed to complete treatment. It doesn’t matter how many logical reasons one has to do well or stay clean, they have to want it. They have to “hit rock bottom”. Some addicts are far from the bottom. Some are functioning addicts.
Sadly, thanks to the A&E show and other media portrayals, friends and family of addicts have it in their head that they can stage an intervention and their addicted loved one will change their life forever. It is fiction. It is better to be patient with the addict. Show them love and support. Let them know that you care for them and that you love them regardless, but that you feel that they would be happier sober. Remind them of their life pre-drugs. Do not guilt trip them. At the end of the day, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t teach him to drink.

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One thought on “Intervention – Don’t Believe The Hype

  1. I was thinking about what I wrote earlier today, and I wanted to clarify something. When I said that the families on “Intervention” are almost as to blame as the behavior as the addict themselves, I didn’t mean that hey share the blame 50/50, or 60/40 or anything like that. When a parent’s child or a person’s spouse becomes addicted to a drug they share no fault in that person’s addiction. Helping an addict or giving them money or occasion does not make you culpable in one’s addiction. The people on these shows, however, have let these addicts take over their entire lives and homes. They are enablers in the worst way. I do not think that the majority of families are like this.

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