From time to time I will get a call to do an Intervention that is only with a single family member. In other words, the Alcoholic/Addict only has one person who is trying to help them. This may be because they don’t have anyone left that wants to be involved. Perhaps they have burned all their bridges and don’t have anyone else that cares for them other than this one person. That could happen because their disease of addiction simply has taken its toll and there is one final person who is willing to go to any length to help their loved one. When someone is destroying their lives with drugs or alcohol and they don’t want to get help, nothing is going to change their mind unless they get in serious trouble or badly hurt themselves. When conducting an Intervention, we try to take the love, the life experience, and the relations of family members and use them to swish the mind of the sick individual temporarily, so they can finally make the best decision for themselves. We rely heavily on the family and encourage everyone to join us. In this particular case, we were working with a 20-year-old boy. Gordon, or “Gordy,” lived in humid Biloxi, MS. Unlike most family Interventions, Gordy did not have anyone to support him in the Intervention except his single mother. She was a lady who did all she could for him but could only do so much. She was burdened by economic woes, by her own addiction issues, by her mental issues, by her son’s addiction issues – and by the constant struggle of raising a wheelchair-bound, double-amputee son. Gordy was permanently disabled and had lost his legs due to a major medical error by the doctors during his birth. He won a malpractice suit and was able to live off it, thanks to a group of very loving and very careful trustees. Of course, the funds were not granted to him; they were granted only to the discretion of the trustees. The money was for his basic health and comfort. He wasn’t even aware of the amount and did not have any control or say on the spending of the funds.
The day before the Intervention I met with the mother, as I normally do. We spent the afternoon reviewing Gordy’s life, his unfortunate history, his drug problem, and his home life. We found his home life to be extremely chaotic. He had not seen his father in many years. He constantly fought with his mother. In some ways she wanted him to go away to treatment so she could get some time off. I would never have an Intervention under those terms, though I understood that her main concern was that her son’s drug problem was going to get worse. My concern was that there was a young man with a very challenging life as it was, and that using drugs was just going to make his life even worse. His handicaps really were as bad as they could be. At least he had use of his upper body. I have to feel very confident about an Intervention. It must have real purpose to me, or I don’t have as much to offer. Gordy was someone I wanted to save. Gordy had a drug and alcohol problem. He was a mean drinker. He would use meth and stay up for days. He wasn’t taking care of himself or cleaning himself. He had a group of very loyal friends who he could always stay with who protected him and provided him with drug money. She shared with me intimate details of Gordy’s life, how he was heartbroken that he had never been with a girl in any way and hated how people felt bad for him. Usually when staging an Intervention, I have to live through my own life and daily recovery, which means I have to be honest. I can’t lie to the family to make them comfortable. I can’t lie to the Alcoholic/Addict to get them to go to rehab. In this case I was going to have to lie, and I did not like it. I had to get Gordy to my hotel conference room by any means necessary. The mom had to tell Gordy that a medical specialist had flown in to help him with his disability. It was a horrible lie. It was all that was going to get him to join her at the hotel the following day. We went ahead with it.
The next day as the Mississippi heat raged on and the sun pierced the windows of my hotel room, I watched a tired and disheveled young man in a wheelchair eagerly wheel his way to the main office, with his mother by his side. She took him to the conference room to wait for me as suggested. I walked in and looked down at Gordy. He was smiling from ear to ear. His mother got up and stood in front of the door so he couldn’t get out. I stuck out my hand, gave him a hug and said, “I am not a Doctor here to help you with your disability. I am a drug and alcohol Interventionist here to speak with you about your drinking and using.” Gordy lost it. He broke down and cried for what seemed like an eternity. He did so while holding on to my hand. This led me to believe that he knew that he was done. Soon enough he asked for the solution and I explained to him that he needed the fellowship of other Alcoholics and Addicts if he was going to remain clean and sober. For this to happen he would need to enter rehab, immediately, that same day. We spent a few hours talking about the treatment center, which he wanted to know more about. He wanted to make sure it was completely handicap-accessible. He even wanted to know what kind of food we would eat on the way up to Jackson, MS, where he would take his first plane ride north to the treatment center. Everything was fine and he calmed down. I took him to the airport. He did not want an escort to the center and was happy flying alone. A year later I got a call that he had a major relapse. Due to his condition we considered the situation extremely urgent. We simply did not want someone with his condition to be roaming the streets while drinking. He had enough problems in life and shouldn’t have to deal with that. I immediately put together an Intervention date. We secured an open bed at another treatment center. The family had lost all contact with him. There was nothing but pain and problems in his house and they kicked him out. He was living on the streets homeless. They say that it is a progressive illness and the problem only gets worse. It is true. This time I didn’t have any family to stand with me. Nobody wanted to face him. I arrived back in Biloxi and they showed me exactly where he was hiding out. I pulled up to him and he said, “Thank God it is you. I need help. Please help me!” At the time of this writing, Gordy is comfortable, safe and sober in rehab.