This part two of the true story about drug abuse intervention. There is nothing that makes an Interventionist feel better than dropping someone off at treatment. Second to that is the feeling of knowing that you have a family completely under your control. I had the Cains right where I needed them and right where they needed to be.

Miss Part One? Read An Intervention in Atlanta

See, the theory is, a family can’t accomplish their goals because they have no idea how. The mother stared at me with deep confidence. I was the one who was going to fix her little girl, she felt. I agreed. The whole room agreed. The Shea family felt left out. They were in fact, left out.

drug abuse intervention

The mother proceeded to give me a long rant about how incredibly volatile her relationship was with her daughter. Vanessa had not listened to her mother in years. Though Marla raised Vanessa all alone, Vanessa had just seen too much action, too much negativity from her mother to ever trust her again. She had even stolen money from Vanessa. She promised to fund a modeling career for Vanessa when she was 18, but the funds for the modeling agents and photos were spent on crack-cocaine. Vanessa knew this. She had been lied to, pawed at by boyfriends of Marla, cheated, and screamed at by her very own Mother since she was ten years of age.

The most difficult thing I had to do at this intervention in Atlanta was to explain to her mother why she was absolutely uninvited from having any role in the intervention apart from being a spectator.

“WHAT! You have some nerve to suggest I stay on the sidelines while trying to save my kid’s life!” She was quickly comforted by her relatives.

I explained to the room that my job was to get Vanessa to treatment. My job was not to put her in a position so that family members could take pot-shots at her. I did not need anyone to turn Vanessa upside down. Vanessa simply had too many traumatic memories and issues with her mother. Marla was going to be a massive target and distraction to her daughter. Everyone in the room knew it. Even the Shea couple humbly agreed with me through their facial expressions. I was not going to risk creating a mother-daughter mess and lose my grip on the room. It was not needed to get Vanessa to rehab. It was wanted by the mother but only because she did not know any better. Again, I reminded her – that was why I was there. She agreed.

I recalled asking her if she was willing to go to any length for her daughter to get help. She assured me she would do whatever the family agreed on, even if it is not what she had planned when she asked her family to hire me.

The abnormally large group had just witnessed their queen-bee being dethroned. They watched as I manhandled a Vet with a loaded firearm. They had no question about my ability to handle myself. They were dead quiet and waiting for the next surprise.

Preparing for Possible Outcomes of a Drug Abuse Intervention:

The Only Outcome You Can Plan for is a Surprise. We moved on to simulation mode where we played out all possible scenarios and outcomes of the intervention. I usually conducted interventions with 5-7 family members, each reading their letter on my call. Each with some kind of assignment that I give them. Today I had sixteen family members, not including myself, Vanessa, or her boyfriend Tommy. This was a massive group.

The first simulation was based around an incoherent and hysterical Vanessa, and how to handle that. The answer was simple. I would take the relative she was closest with, and the two of us would isolate Vanessa until she calmed down. The family felt that this was the likely scenario.

I disagreed. I felt she would run as soon as she heard the dreaded word “no” when she presented her counter-offer to me and I declined it. We prepared for her bolt, based on my advice and experience. The uncle at the doorway was not to touch her but only to plead with her to sit down. The rest of the room was to do nothing but watch.

My job would have been to run down that hot summer pavement in my Ferragamos.

, blisters building on my feet, and get her to calm down and sit in the grass with me. I would want her to cry, to tell me her problems, her plans, her regrets. I would need and want information from her in order to help her. This is when I would get it.

The family shrugged their heads at me. They didn’t feel she would run. I told them to expect her to run. That was the likely case. The unlikely case would be for her to accept our offer of help and to get in the car with us to the treatment center in New Orleans.

Earlier in the day, I reviewed many letters from all of the family. Some too long, some perfect.I warned them that after two or three letters, Vanessa would lose her cool and start to bargain.

Again, the family insisted she would stay put. Marla, the mother, told me that her daughter was going to respond very well to me because I had similar facial features to her family. I scanned the room and politely agreed. “See everyone bright and early tomorrow.”

The Big Day – The Cain Family Intervention in Atlanta


I had the grandmother send them a text. They were an hour away. I pleaded with them to let me do all of the talking. I would call on each family member to read their letter in the order I had suggested. It was time for a short break. Everyone was nervous.

I was nervous because the size of the family meant one thing: The odds of everyone acting how they needed to act were not great. Most of the family was very kind. They wanted me to do my job and get her out of there. We waited and waited for Vanessa and her boyfriend Tommy to cross the state line, smoke more heroin, and keep driving. It was intervention day, and the thoughts in my head were the same as they always were – anything goes:

I overheard 3-4 different uncles discuss how they were going to remove Tommy the boyfriend, from this drug abuse intervention…by his head.

I watched the Grandmother prance around the room and feed people as if she wasn’t the primary enabler and primary source of drug cash for Vanessa, like this wasn’t all her fault.

I hugged the mom who was crying, rocking back and forth like an Orthodox man at the Western Wall, and swore to her that her daughter would have a better life today and going forward. I shrugged off advice from nieces and aunts on how to handle Vanessa when she screams in my face, which she never did anyways

A car pulled into the driveway, screeching to a halt. Out came two young people, screaming at each other like they were fighting over their last slice of pizza. In this case, they were likely fighting over their last dollar. Or maybe they were fighting about how they would take a loan out on the new car they thought would be waiting for them in her family garage.

In stumbled a girl who looked like she had just walked out of a three-day rock concert. Behind her was a very underweight and seemingly high, Tommy Shea. No wonder the uncles were so willing and eager to get their hands on this guy. He was tiny and defenseless.

Vanessa didn’t look anything like the glamorous pictures her grandmother had put up the money for. The pictures sat all over the house. They must have been from the last time she was clean because she looked great in them.

According to her family and what they told me on family day, her last effort to stay clean was supposed to be based around getting a real job. Instead, she was somehow able to convince the grandmother to get her an apartment in Miami and put up the money for a modeling career. Somehow, she met Tommy and heroin – again. Her hair was matted. There was dirt under all ten of her fingernails, connected to small feminine hands. Black and dark grime. Her clothes were stained. Her Lululemon pants had a hole on her knee the size of a silver dollar.

Loving Someone enough to Intervene in a Heroin Addiction

She ran down her family hallway without a care in the world. “Hi Uncle Jimbo, what are you doing here?!” “OMG Aunt Gloria!” “Is everything ok?” She cocked her head at me like a poodle does when you ask it if it wants to go for a walk. “No, things are not ok. But they will be,” I said. I explained to her that her family had grown tired of worrying about her and her drug problem. I told her that she wasn’t under any obligation to do anything at all, though it would be deeply appreciated if her family could take the time to each explain to her how much they loved her and cared about her.

“Ok,” she said, with puppy dog eyes. I looked at her. I nodded my head slightly and said, “Yeah?” She had confirmed.

I now had an intervention.... a real life drug abuse intervention.

The Conclusion is NEXT