She had agreed to be at the mercy of an outsider and her family without any further questions or demands. I placed her on the black leather couch in between the two least harmful, but warmest people in the room– two of her aunts. Both grabbed her hands and caressed them. “Vanessa, would it be ok if your grandpa read you his thoughts first?” I said. She looked at me and agreed. (I gestured towards her cousin to grab her keys and wallet from the table, which Vanessa was too shocked and upset to notice.)
After requesting that her grandfather look directly at her when he read his letter, he reached under his lazy-boy chair and held out a handful of childhood pictures of Vanessa. While this was unexpected and not in the plans, I was forced to go along with it. He started to shake, fell back into his chair and was hysterical. The Shea boy wilted.
Vanessa looked at me with her eyes full of tears. Tears running down her face, Vanessa stood up and looked at me and said, “I know where a drug intervention near me is. Is this about me going back to rehab?” I replied, “No! If you choose to go to rehab, that’s a smart move. This is just about you listening to your family as they each took the time to put their thoughts and concerns on paper. YOU agreed to hear them all, and I think that is really sweet of you.
Are you willing to let them resume as you said?” “Yes, yes, of course I am. It’s ok. I am sorry,” Vanessa said, as if she owed us something. “Great!” I said, and I smiled at her with everyone in the room as well.
Both of her aunts who flanked her, hugged her, and held her. One cried. The grandfather started reading the letter. He got through the first paragraph, and then the second, and wiped his eyes and looked at me for approval. “Vanessa, I want your cousin Maria to read her letter to you next. Is that ok?” “Uh-huh,” stated Vanessa.
Maria approached Vanessa and gave her a big hug and started to read her letter in a very professional manner. Before Maria could start her letter, Vanessa said, “I am not going anywhere without Tommy. I don’t want to hear what anyone has to say until I know that I don’t have to leave Tommy.” Tommy sat there, with his parents close, shaking with tears running down to his jeans. I explained to the Shea parents that the family would really appreciate it if they took him to lunch alone and came back in a few hours to give us time to focus on Vanessa. They couldn’t have agreed more.
The two young drug-lovers decided to take control of the meeting by deciding the opposite.
Right before I could do my job and calmly get Tommy out the door the step-father (minus the gun, I thought) decided he wanted to be an interventionist. He got up, walked over to Tommy, placed his hand on his sidearm and told him to “get the hell out of the house” louder than a hand grenade exploding. The Shea family was gone. After he left, I immediately explained to Vanessa that we had zero opinion on what she does with her love life, we just want to help her first, try to see if she is willing to get clean, and at that point she would be able to make her best decisions on men.
She wailed and wailed, and nearly lost her voice. “Vanessa, with your permission I would like your cousin to read her letter.” In one ear, out the other. “But I want Tommy now!” And she stood up and ran for the back door, past the uncle who was in the kitchen eating pretzels and not guarding the door. “Let her go please!” I urged the family. “She is just upset, I will handle it, stay here please!”
The family complied. I warned them. It was all part of my plan, although I did not know exactly when. Then the Mother stood up. “Marla,” I said, “Marla!” “Sit down, Marla. I am going to go get her and will be back when she calms down.” In one ear, out the other. Like a linebacker trying to get his first sack of the season, she tackled her daughter down to the grass. Both of them were wailing. The intervention had changed its course. I never worry about situations like this for myself. I know that sometimes if people get very upset, they will crash and burn and then start to listen.
“You stupid moron, you went against the plans,” said the step-father to Marla. At that moment, Marla’s 300lb brother grabbed the step-father by the throat, in an effort to stand up for his sister – or perhaps venting anger from an incident from years before.
“He is armed!” I said to the brother. I then focused my efforts on the room and urged everyone to remain seated. Of course, they had to peer outside and see what happened with Vanessa, who was squirming out of her mother’s headlock and making her way around the corner. “Let her go!” Inside, everyone was screaming and yelling at each other.
Outside Marla was wrapped around me, crying hysterically as if all hope was lost. We went inside. The step-father and brother were both asked to leave the house. I confirmed that Vanessa was without her car keys and her wallet still, thank God. I told the family to leave the rest of the day to me. I could see Vanessa wailing on the grass in front of the house.
The family gave Vanessa a full-sized Xanax bar, and she conked out on her grandmother’s shoulder. Three hours had passed. I turned around to the back seat, got a slight grin from my client, and she looked at her brother in the rearview mirror and said,
“Pull over, immediately.” He looked at me. I consented. Then my day got rough. “Ok guys,” said Vanessa. “I am on with going to rehab, but I want one more high. Just one more, and I am fine to go.”
Of course, we all declined. We argued for what seemed like hours in a remote rest area outside of Mobile, Alabama. We really were not far from her treatment center in New Orleans. The problem was that Vanessa really meant it. She was not going to treatment unless she got high one more time.
See, on occasion we will have someone get drunk on a plane or take a handful of pills right before the intake process at their treatment center. It is totally understandable. The problem is that Vanessa wanted hard drugs, and she had to buy them in order to use them. She didn’t possess anything.
As we refuse to take any kind of payment from a family without witnessing the intake process, I found myself in a very difficult situation. She had promised me that she had someone who would meet us outside of some parish, somewhere in the most humid city I have ever been to. The grandmother begged me to let her and begged me to stay with the family.
With my own eyes, I watched the Grandmother take $100 from her purse and hand it to a dealer for ten tiny bags of the best heroin in the state. Her brother drove us around New Orleans while Vanessa huffed and puffed away at that very familiar and enticing smoke. She belted out in relief “Ahhhh, oh my God, I told you I just needed one more high.” Nodding off, trying to get the foil to her mouth.
Well at least she doesn’t main-line the stuff, I thought. And she didn’t. She went through each bag like chewing a small pack of gum. She agreed to treatment. We arrived on the detox side as we were instructed to do so. Her brother got her bags out of the trunk. I looked at the grandmother in disgust, like I always look at the primary enabler. Disgust, but understanding. She grabbed my hand and apologized.
Vanessa, on the other hand, was in the backseat, upside down, flicking the lighter for that last resin hit. Over and over I pleaded with her to leave the vehicle. Two nurses, both in recovery from addiction, stood in amazement as they watched this poor girl breathe in nothing but lighter fumes, over and over. “This is why you and I still go to 12 step meetings,” I said to one of them. “Uh, yeah, it’s like looking into a mirror from a decade ago,” she said. Vanessa took my hand, and we walked into the facility.
She knew it was all over. What she didn’t know was that it was over forever. At the time of this writing, Vanessa has been clean and sober for four years, has a full-time job as a real estate agent, and maintains a healthy relationship with her family – including myself.
This is what can happen with interventions id conducted properly by a trained interventionist. Do you or someone you know need intervention? Let us help. Call us now at 800-492-7848 and let us help make your intervention a success story like this one.