Intervention Calls: Real life Intervention for Crystal Meth Addiction in Georgia When I get an intervention call for a family in the Deep South or the Midwest, I am usually on the plane the next day. I love working these parts of our country. Not only are people hospitable, but they are usually raised around the Church. This means they have faith. They don’t go through life on their own; they have someone more powerful to guide them. This also means they are happier. Perhaps, ultimately, there is also something special about the family bond. This bond, when tainted with alcoholism or addiction, is more likely to be handled immediately and properly in these regions. If a family knows that they can’t handle a family member’s addiction problem, they don’t just push them out – and they don’t just try to handle the problem on their own. Would you try to set a broken leg on your own? Or would you go to a doctor? There’s no difference when it comes to addiction. The people I have encountered over the years in these parts of the U.S.were wonderful to work with. In an intervention, I have to be able to do my job. The family has no idea how to get their loved one help, but for me it is second nature by now. Many times, while conducting an intervention, a family will get in my way – or rather, they get in their own way. They prevent me from helping by trying to talk their loved one into help as soon as we have them cornered.That does not work at all. I tell each family member exactly what role they should play. I spend many hours with the family the day before the intervention so that I can get an idea of which route to take. A kind-hearted family, the type that I prefer to work with, will let me help them every step of the way. My heart is always with one such special family in Northern Georgia -the Haigler family. The addict was Peter. He was a 24-year-old man with a new baby and an estranged wife. Of course, their marital problems were due to his Xanax and methamphetamine addictions. His parents and grandmother were willing to help. We had a good group,not too large but not too small. Peter was not a bad guy.He was just putting his addiction before his family, and his life had fallen apart. He was not dangerous. He was fixable.
The family and I spent about five hours together at my hotel conference room. Peter’s sister was able to get off work and joined us at the last minute.When working together, his mother, a nurse, confessed to me that as a boy,Peter may have been the victim of sexual abuse. She could not elaborate on what happened or who caused it. She was too upset. The father had always worked on the road and was not around during Peter’s developmental years or his teenage years. It is something he did regret, but based on his body language, it was something he had accepted and refused to allow to hold him back. He made good money and really was a nice man. Peter’s grandmother’s role was to remind Peter how much she loved him and that she had faith in his potential for sobriety. His wife, who showed up with the baby, was dead quiet - angry. Peter’s sister was the most helpful of the group. She wanted to get in the trenches with me. She wanted him to have the opportunity to raise the baby with his wife, not lose her. He had very little as it was. He couldn’t lose his wife. He had no idea how to be a father, but it seemed like he could learn.
Supporting a Family Member’s Recovery with a New Family The intervention was going to be focused around the wife’s promise to do her very best to give Peter a chance to be part of her life, as long as he went to rehab and got cleaned up. She looked at me and her in-laws with scorn. The two parties obviously had different methods of fixing Peter over the years. They were angry with her for leaving him. She was angry with them for not doing enough. The picture was clear. I invited the wife on a long walk for a snack, alone with me. She complied and gave her baby to her mother-in-law. It was simple. We all had to get Peter cleaned up so that he could be a father. Wehoped that the wife would take him back as well. I got her to swear to me that she would take him back as long as he went to rehab and stayed clean. I had all I needed. I gave her a hug and a thank you. She started to relax and loosen up a bit. “How many families do you help per year?” she asked. “Oh, about 25 good ones and 25 bad ones – and this is a great one,” I replied, winning a smile. We all drove together in the family’s Suburban to the home out in the deep Georgia country. We parked across the street at the community church so that we wouldn’t wake up Peter. Afterall, it was 10am. Why wake him? He had just gotten in from Memphis and likely had a huge stash of pills. He must not have been using meth at the time because if he had, he wouldn’t have been sound asleep.
Starting New with a Real-Life Intervention Everyone was fine, but his father was not optimistic that we would get Peter to attend treatment. He told me over and over how he just wanted to call the police and get his son pinched for drugs and get it over with. But he was just nervous -very, very nervous. The first plan was to have the mother go downstairs, wake up Peter, and tell him he has a family friend here to speak with him because the family is scared about his drug use. It didn’t work. The next step was for the sister and mother to go back and plead with him to come upstairs. I stood right outside the door. That didn’t work either.
We all huddled upstairs and had some breakfast. My hand never left his father’s shoulder. I asked him to grab a bat, sit on the stairs, and let me go downstairs into Peter’s room alone and introduce myself .I opened the door. Peter was in bed with his head covered. I walked up to his bed and noticed his hands were half exposed, and I gently and politely reached in and held his hand. He uncovered his face, looked me in the eye, and knew the struggle was finally over. I sat at the edge of his bed and urged him to let his family come down into his room. He relented, and for the first time as an interventionist, I conducted an intervention with the addict in his bed. “Peter, you don’t have to talk, man. I know exactly how you feel. Would it be okay if I tell you how your family feels one at a time? They don’t want to talk.” He complied, with tears running down his face. I explained to him how his grandmother loved him more than anything in the world and would fight to the bitter end for him to get his life together. I told him how his father had deep regret for not being around more to help him develop into a better man. His father reached forward and held his son’s foot and started to weep. He reminded his son that he has never cried in front of him before. I explained to him how his mother is torn to shreds because of his drug problem and has been instrumental in finding him the best treatment center with her medical contacts. His sister ran out of the room in grief. I turned towards his wife, holding their baby. I looked back to Peter and said, “Your wife gave me her word that you will have one more shot as a husband and one more shot as a father, as long as you come with me today. ”He paused. He waited. His mother laid down in bed next to him on the other side. “Come up on the porch and have some breakfast, bud.” I coaxed a bit further. “You don’t have to make a decision now”. He sat up in bed, looked at me, and said, “Where the heck did they find you?” I explained to him that I was another addict like him. I just devote my life to helping others so that they don’t get even worse. His feet touched the ground. He looked at me and nodded his head. He even smiled. He asked me what I was clean and sober from. I told him, “Peter, drugs and alcohol pulled me down. I drank and used everything under the sun until I hit rock bottom. I am here to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen to you. After all, you are a father.” We sat up on the porch as a group, like nothing even happened. They were smoking and having coffee. It was not a very long intervention. The father winked at me with a smile. I explained to Peter how we found a luxury 28-day program in Tennessee. I told him that his mother was downstairs gathering some things for him and that we would be leaving for the Atlanta/Hartsfield airport together within the hour.He was fine with it.
Recovery: Life After Rehab His baby sat on his lap comfortably. His wife remained standing, chain-smoking. She was obviously not going to be happy until Peter was drug-free. I understood. We all understood. It was brought to my attention that Peter was a former Neo-Nazi, fascinated by Hitler and all of the World War II documentaries on Netflix. It raised a really, valid point. What would become of Peter after rehab? I explained to them that if he did it right, didn’t have any slips or relapses, went to meetings, and did the right thing, that he would ultimately have a spiritual awakening. He would become aligned with a higher power. He would work through his steps and would put down his life story on paper. He would do this with someone who is very experienced in AA or NA - someone we call a sponsor. He would take a moral inventory of himself, and he would look at his role in every resentment he had. His anger and fear of minorities would gradually slip away, and he would become a better man for his wife and baby. His new identity would not be one of a group of people who hate, but of a group of people who show love and tolerance to all. While accomplishing these goals, over time he would distance himself from drugs because he would have less and less reason to use them as his pain went away. The reason he needed to go to rehab was to jumpstart this process. He agreed, and we were off to Atlanta. As Peter had a night flight to Memphis and I a night flight to Miami, we had some time to relax,so we all had dinner at the airport. Nobody spoke of recovery or the intervention. Peter asked if he could have his final beer. His family was okay with it. It is actually very common for people to drink or use once more before entering rehab. I have had people drink or use on the way to the center just to prevent painful withdrawals from kicking in. In this case, he really was just having a single beer. We all spoke about our lives and our hobbies. It was an outstanding intervention. Peter said goodbye to his family and so did I. I walked him to his gate, and he gave me a big smile and a happy handshake. As my plane’s engines went into full throttle and the pilot pointed our plane south, tears of joy streamed down my face. Six months later I got a call from Peter’s father. Peter had six months clean. He was a forklift operator at a local car dealership and had great benefits. He was about to put down a payment on a new home for his wife and baby. Unbelievable.