When is it too late for an intervention? I believe as long as an addict is breathing it is never too late, you never give up. There is still time to save their
I believe this because I am a product of an intervention. I have the gift of being able to help people break the cycle, and that gift was given to me when an intervention was performed on me in 1989. I was addicted to crystal meth, alcohol and anything I could get my hands on. I believed I could do it on my own, but I was wrong. My employers sat me down with a professional interventionist and, in a loving way, told me I needed some help. Because of the intervention, I agreed to go into a treatment facility and have been clean since July 14, 1989.
I’m now an addiction interventionist and have been working in the field for most of my sobriety. I ended up in this line of work because of my own personal experience with addiction and because of my passion for helping others. Being able to help people break through the walls of addiction and denial is a gift that I will cherish until the day I die.
With addiction there’s a wall of denial that needs to be broken through before the healing can begin. Like many other medical conditions addiction can run in the family. Ten percent of the people in the world are born with a gene that makes them vulnerable to addiction. I had an incredible upbringing and I’m an addict while my sister is not. It’s the luck of the draw, so to speak.
Sometimes people blame the parents or the family. I work with hundreds of families all over the world, and while some of them are difficult, some of them are the most loving parents, and yet their kid suffers with addiction. Sometimes parents are addicts, but the children are not.
It’s important that people who blame get more education. Certainly family behaviors and trauma can do damage and can magnify the addiction but it’s not the root cause of addiction.
Addicts can be the most selfish people in the world – when using – and people who love addicts often experience a lot of anger. That can be a healthy anger if they’re angry about the addiction. They have to separate the addiction and their loved one. Addicts aren’t bad people, they’re sick people.
Instead of being angry with the addict, stand up in front of the addiction and say, “I love you, but I’m not going to love you to death.”
Many families and loved ones can be helped though Al-Anon or counseling before during or after the addicts find recovery.
Standing up to addiction isn’t easy. Between addiction and the human spirit, addiction is stronger, but if you become unified as a family, then you can become stronger than the addiction. The individual cannot fight the addiction by themselves once it has gone to a certain level, and that’s why there are treatment centers all over the world.
In America, there are 23 million Americans suffering from addiction, and only one per cent of them get treatment on their own. The denial is just so strong that it requires a combined effort.
Environment plays a huge part in people’s addiction.
You have to create an environment that stops the addiction. To stop the addiction, the person has to hit a bottom and realize they don’t want to live that way. That is where we come in to intervene, help raise the bottom of the addiction so it does not have to be jail or death.
We facilitate the healing process by getting as many family members, friends, co-workers or anybody who loves the addict, together in a room to confront the addict.
Most of the addict’s prayers are, “Please don’t let me wake up tomorrow. I don’t want to live this way.”
For some reason, when you have all these people in a room talking about how much they love the addict, it gives the addict a bit of hope to want to stay alive.
There’s no cookie cutter formula for an intervention.
Doing an intervention on a prescription medication addict is completely different than on someone who is getting their drugs off the street. What addicts have in common is that they all need to hit some form of bottom in order to break through. Every addict hits a bottom where using is not as fun as it use to be and is more devastating then wanting to seek help.
Professional interventionists help to create the type of rock bottom appropriate for a particular addict.
Every single addict who finally puts an end to their addiction - hits what the general public known as “rock bottom”. But what exactly is “rock bottom”? And how many different ways are there to get to that painful, yet powerfully healing place? Here is what I have come up with:
The five “rock bottoms” (Health, Emotional, Legal, Personal Finances and Spiritual) and why each of them works.
Health bottom: is usually very effective at stopping the addiction, since it usually means the addict is confronted with failing health and left with no choice but to either quit or die.
Emotional bottom: can be a variety of things, but is usually when the addict has pushed so many people from their life that the emotional strain becomes too great for them to bear.
Legal bottom: is when the law intervenes. It’s when their addiction has caused them to break the law and they have some form of legal action being taken against them. This leaves the addict with no choice but end the addiction due to facing criminal charges.
Personal finances bottom: is when the addict has used up all their resources—money, possessions and everything they own—leaving them with nothing but their own addiction.
Spiritual bottom: is something very personal between the addict and their God. It can be incredibly powerful, but also very difficult to predict.
Each of these bottoms is equal to each other—and just as influential as the other—for stopping an addiction in its’ tracks, so that the loved ones can once again reclaim their life back. Best of all, the five “rock bottoms” are easy to remember, since they spell out the word “HELPS”—something that each rock bottom does either individually and/or collectively to cure the disease of addiction.
In an intervention, we will also explain to the participants that having an addict in their life unfortunately means that they are also well on their
way to hitting their own rock bottom. Afterwards,
I’ll offer assurance that the tools they are about to learn will prevent them from ending up here again.
We do our best to facilitate a rock bottom for the addict. For a lot of people the physical bottom isn’t enough to make them stop – they’ll be brought back from the brink of death and go right back into their addiction.
There’s an emotional bottom, which is what we deal with in a professional intervention. We see people quit drinking because they ended up driving drunk with their kids in the car and they don’t remember how they got home. For some, that’s enough of an incentive. We try to pull at an addict’s heart strings in order to beat the addiction.
If that’s not enough, then there’s the financial bottom. That’s what ultimately worked for me – I got fired from my job and had no way to support myself. A lot of families give the addict money, and we get them to agree to stop doing that. We may go to the employer and ask them to support the intervention by cutting off the money. There are times when we have no control over this bottom either though, like the executive or business owner that has plenty of funds to live on if they stop working.
The legal bottom, a lot of people go to treatment because the courts say, “You either go to jail or you go into treatment.”
Every human being has a living nightmare meaning a bottom, and so we have to figure out how to make that nightmare a reality in a respectful and loving manner.
We only do this if they choose not to go to treatment after the letters are read and they did not hit that emotional bottom. The more bottoms that can be achieved the better the chances are of success.
Often family members will turn away because they simply feel they’ve done all they could, but I believe the only time you close that door is when the addict stops breathing. Do whatever you can to pull your loved one back. Closing the door while your loved one is still alive is a lose-lose situation – the addict goes further into addiction, and the family members’
hearts still ache. Love doesn’t stop.
Interventions work. It worked on me and I have seen it work on countless families. But an intervention is only the beginning of the road to recovery for the addict and the family. There is a lot of work ahead
for everyone. The payoff for me is seeing families
heal and find the love and happiness they thought was gone forever.
If you have someone you love that needs help, please contact a professional.
Ken Seeley, BRI II, CNDAI II, RASi is the founder of Intervention911.com and an interventionist on the A&E show Intervention.