Q&A With Someone Who Has Been Through an Intervention

Overview

Interventions are typically quiet, closed-door events. People who participate in these conversations might find them to be incredibly moving and helpful, but they might not feel comfortable with the idea of discussing their work openly. Thankfully, there are some people who have been through the process who have been gracious enough to share their stories with us.

This article contains answers from Miles (not his real name), answering our questions about his intervention process with his partner, Sarah (not her real name either). We hope this interview will persuade you to hold a talk of your own, as this story does have a happy ending.

 

Q. What substances did Sarah use?

Heroin mostly, but also synthetic opiates, like Vicodin and Dilaudid. Anything that was available, really.

Q. How long did the abuse go on before she agreed to enter treatment?

A little over a year.

Sarah had had a drug problem when she was very young, but she had gotten clean. The trouble began shortly after I made new friends. One of them was a drug user. He was coy about his habit, but I was pretty fascinated. I drew him out, and I told Sarah about it, and she got interested in drugs all over again.

We used drugs together a few times, but it was not something I enjoyed. She, however, very quickly became addicted, and I chose to turn a blind eye. I think I felt guilty that I had started the whole thing.

For about six months, the situation steadily worsened. She would invent excuses to go out and meet friends I knew to be users. She reconnected with old high school acquaintances, and soon she was stealing from our house, our neighbors, buying items with credit cards, and then returning them for cash. A friend of mine saw her and one of her drug-using friends come into his store and try to sell a household item. She eventually was arrested and sentenced to a court-mandated course of anti-theft counseling. That didn’t help with her addiction, however.

Q. Did you have informal conversations about her habits? How did those go?

I didn’t have the “spine” or standing to really confront her. We were living in a house her father owned; I’d just started working a low-paying job, and I wasn’t contributing much to the bottom line. I didn’t feel like I could hit her with consequences, so I sort of tiptoed around the problem. That didn’t work out well. When I tried to suggest that her habit was getting out of control, she would pull back emotionally, or she’d go on the attack. The conversations ended up being about me, not about her habit.

Q. What specific episodes made you certain that something had to change?

She cleaned out my bank account, which I only discovered when I went to the bank. Also, a friend of mine had stored some darkroom equipment in our house. When I discovered she’d hocked some of it for drug money, I tried to get to the secondhand store in time to stop the sale.

In my haste to get to the place, I got in a car accident. The insurance money for the car, a little over $2,000, went to buy drugs.

Q. Who came to the intervention?

Her sisters, her father, myself and one of her oldest friends.

Q. Did a professional help you pull it together?

It was one of her sisters who pushed for the intervention, but she contacted a therapist who helped us lay the groundwork and provide a framework for the event.

Q. Was she angry about that?

Angry at first, and she tried to deny everything, but by the time it happened, I think she’d hit bottom and was kind of worn down.

Q. Was she aware that you were planning an intervention?

No.

Q. Were you nervous about the talk?

I was petrified! But after the therapist made a few opening comments, I went first. It was a supportive environment, and I felt like it was about time I spoke up.

Q. Did it go better or worse than you expected?

I had no expectations. I thought it went well. There was no screaming or fistfights. Lots of crying though.

Q. How did she respond to the conversation?

Once she’d accepted that we were all there to support her, she calmed down and just let us talk. She looked sheepish and apologetic. Her family and friends loved her deeply, it was apparent. But I don’t know if she really meant what she said. She put on the face she thought we wanted to see, and we bought it.

Q. Were you successful in your efforts to get her to participate in treatment?

Yes, and Sarah’s father even paid for her to enter an inpatient treatment program.

Q. Did she stay sober after the talk?

Sarah entered the treatment program almost immediately, but she relapsed during treatment, and then relapsed a few days after being released. We separated for nearly a year after that.

Q. Did she eventually get sober?

Yes, she did. And I went back to her when I saw that she had made real changes.

Q. Do you think she would have gotten sober if you hadn’t held an intervention?

While I felt like Sarah lied a lot during our talk, I believe the intervention was an important first step. It cleared the air, and it helped me to stand up to her. It also got all the family and friends together, and it showed her in a very tangible way that she had choices and a built-in safety net. Once we really started talking about what was going on without fighting with her, we could all start rebuilding trust. And we learned how to set boundaries, and I think that’s what really made her get clean.

Getting Help

There’s a lot of information in this story, and if you have questions about how interventions work and how they should be conducted after you’ve finished reading this piece, we wouldn’t be surprised. Please call, and our admissions coordinators would love to connect you with a family mediator who can help you stage an intervention for your loved one.

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