“Addicted”, Intervention, and An Addict’s Fear

Posted on April 29, 2010. Filed under: addiction, Addiction Resources/Support, Intervention, Parent of an Addict | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

I was all set to tune in to the program, Addicted last night at 10:00 pm on TLC; however, it wasn’t on.  I’m not sure why.  Did its contract only run for six programs?

I have ‘enjoyed’ the show, in that, even though it’s difficult to watch, I’ve learned things I didn’t know about a variety of drugs. Although my daughter is a heroin addict, I’m sure she has probably tried the entire menu of drugs out there, depending on what was available at the time. Actually seeing how certain drugs are used, the paraphernalia involved, the living conditions of drug addicts, their enabling families, every one’s desperation – all of it adds to my knowledge bank – which is, of course, a painful deposit.

I had also wanted to make a few comments regarding Kristina Wandzilak as a professional interventionist and her process.  First, I found her to be entirely genuine – very authentic in her emotional connection to the addict and their families. Allowing herself to spontaneous emote along with the addict and family members can not be scripted, in my opinion.  And, Kristina’s ability to relate to the addict in a very personal way is unique, I think. Her own journey through addiction and recovery give her insight and strategies that cannot necessarily be taught, but are only learned through experience.

It occurred to me that one reason Kristina is so effective, is that she follows her clients through the rehab process, serving as their personal coach, advocate, and liaison to family.  This is a crucial component, I think, to keeping the recovering addict on track since they can easily detour off the prescribed path towards sobriety.  I wonder if Kristina does this with all her clients, or just those being filmed for the TV series?  I don’t know – but this technique is so crucial, I think, that I would consider using it if and when we do an intervention with Hayley.

Which brings me to that controversial topic of –  INTERVENTION. I’ve raised the intervention issue several times in past blog posts.  Our family considered it last summer when we first learned of Hayley’s crack cocaine use – which quickly led to her heroin use. (Graduation) I can understand the rationale for both sides of the intervention debate.  However – – – things have deteriorated so horribly for Hayley in the last couple of weeks that I’ve decided to try an intervention – for myself, really.  My daughter has never had a professional intervention, and has never been to a drug treatment program, even though she has probably been chemically dependent on something for the last 10 years.  I truly believe that yes, Hayley can be very resourceful in terms of procuring her drug of choice, but is still incapable of getting herself out of this deep, dark hole of addiction. And so – in order to truly know that I tried every thing I could and was available to me to ‘help’ my terminally ill daughter, I want to try this – an intervention. I feel strongly that Hayley deserves a chance – with help – to get clean and sober enough to then be capable of making important decisions for herself and her future.

After Hayley walked out of medical detox last August, our family essentially washed our hands of her.  This was her first experience in medical detox, and she was then scheduled to go to a woman’s treatment center in Seattle.  I just learned that after almost 5 days of de-toxing, with the worst behind her as far as physical withdrawal symptoms, her anxiety issues kicked in and she just couldn’t face going to treatment.  That unknown seemed too overwhelming to her, whereas going back to using heroin and its accompanying lifestyle, was something she knew, was familiar with, in a ‘community’, of sorts, where she had a place.  “Belonging” – – – a very seductive reason to re-join and/or become a part of any group.

Kristina Wandzilak, in her blog, The Kristina Chronicles, had this to say regarding “Fear and the Addict”:

“How much of fear is responsible for a person’s descent into addiction and inability to retrieve him or herself from it? Addicts, in general, are fear-based individuals. I’m not sure that fear has a lot to do with the manifestation of the disease, per se, but once we’re in it, fear keeps us from getting better.

We’re afraid of what will happen to us. We’re afraid of success, of failure, of living and of dying. We’re afraid to try to get better. It can feel easier to be resigned to a life of addiction than to live a different, sober life. Sobriety changes everything. “

Some of you may know blogger, Dawn (DHAM).  She sent me this excerpt from a recovering addict’s blog: (http://thewarondrugs1.blogspot.com/

“I was zombie like–running on automatic. Addicts don’t desire financial ruin, loss of self respect, ruining good relationships with family or friends, or spending time in jail/prison.  Those are all just consequences of being an addict.

People w/o addictions generally make their decisions based on their conscious motivations.  An example, normal people get jobs so they can pay bills and support their families.  For me as an addict, my decisions were made based on an impulsive, physiological drive for drugs.  Every decision I made in life was centered around my drug addiction.  The only reason I got a job was so I could pay for my drugs.  If it was a choice between paying bills and copping a bag, the bag would always win.  If I had a choice between eating a meal and drugs—-drugs.

Self control was non existent for me.  My probation officer told me if I failed another piss test at one point I’d go to prison for five years.  So for two weeks I’d quit using 3 days before I saw my probation officer.  Then the lack of self-control took over me.  During my 3 days of not using, I’d continually obsess over the drug, and despite the potential consequences of 5 years in prison, the drug would win.

The drug came before everything in my life.  The high was more important than my family, my friends, money, food, water, my health, my future, my own life.    Consequences never even crossed my mind like they do for ‘normal’ people.  I needed it.  I lived it.  I breathed it.  It became me…”

I guess it sounds as if I’m trying to justify and make a case for doing an intervention with Hayley.  I am – and, I’m not.  This blog helps me articulate my feelings, think “out loud”, and get some clarity.  Essentially, I’ve decided to do what I can to get Hayley to treatment.  It’s a matter of life and death. She needs help to do this, and deserves a chance  – at life.

P.S. our apple blossoms are in bloom – as is most everything, now. The image at the beginning is a photo I took last year – and represents such hope of new life, new beginnings, re-birth – – –  I sometimes dare not look at it.  But today, I’ve allowed myself this beauty and joy – and I’m feeling a glimmer of hope, that I’m trying to ‘contain’ and keep realistic.  After all, it’s all I have.


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18 Responses to ““Addicted”, Intervention, and An Addict’s Fear”

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How can I help? Just say the word.

After being clean now for sometime and having worked some steps I have come to realize there are 3 things that are ‘defects of character’ or psyche’ if you prefer. Fear, Anger, and Guilt. These 3 things alone are like a catalyst for the using addict to continue to live in active addiction. I liked Dawn’s letter, it made sense. I have found that being addicted to certaintity or the ability the change the way I feel with drugs and suffering from chronic projection are 2 of the fundemental basis for denial.
My thoughts are with you Peg.

Bob – thanks for this input. I think I disagree with a basic premise of yours. I don’t consider fear, anger, and guilt to be character defects. They’re human emotions that we all naturally feel – through out our life, and should be recognized and acknowledged, in my opinion. Behavior that is based on or dominated by any of those emotions can be problematic some times. Learning how to manage those emotions, while still feeling them, is the key.
When I think of character traits, I think of honesty, patience, compassion, persistence, fairness, generosity, tolerance. (I’m sure I left something out). Those can all be taught, modeled, practiced, and learned. And, I believe that anger, fear, and guilt will always play a part within those inner character traits. The trick is finding balance, moderation, examining motives, and triggers. Often, those emotions become a reactive response to a situation because of a lack of coping skills, recognition of what emotions are operative at the time, a lack of knowledge about their origins, and healthier alternatives. Just my thoughts. Don’t beat yourself up for feeling fear, anger, and guilt. They are naturally within us all. We just need to learn how to manage them. Peggy

My therapist once told me that any decision you make when it feels like “life and death” is the right decision. We never did an intervention…but when Bryan overdosed we found a different inpatient and we told him that if he would try, we would send him. For us, it was that one last chance to keep him alive. The feelings/drive described by the addict are discussed intellectually in the DVD Pleasure Unwoven. It is the most intellectual and clear explanation I’ve ever heard about addiction (from The Institute for Addiction Study). I highly recommend that you get your hands on a copy. I will continue to pray for you Peg, and Hayley.

Lisa – I will order Pleasure Unwoven from Netflix. Thanks. And, you’re right – I must have reached a critical mass last week, deciding to go ahead with an intervention on my own, if I had to. We’re holding a family conference call Sunday evening to discuss our options and plan. Everyone in the family seems to be on board, which is good. I spent a couple of hours with Hayley yesterday. It was very difficult and painful. I can hardly bear to be around her. She looks terrible, and is desperate. It’s almost impossible not to enable her in some way. She called me to take her to the DSHS (welfare) office to get food stamps and apply for the state funded treatment program. I also lent her my phone to call her probation officer, took her to see a counselor I had met at Dependency Health Services (state funded), and bought her $175 worth of groceries. She’s been stealing from Wal-Mart to survive. Right now, I’m just trying to keep her connected long enough to get her to treatment. It all takes time to arrange. Thanks for your continued support, Lisa.

Peg, I know how you feel. I have done all what you said and then some. The problem was, my daughter never hit bottom that way and was truly ready for rehab. The more you are helping, the more likely it is that they don’t feel ready for rehab. Have you read Bugz blog http://thewarondrugs1.blogspot.com/? She explains so well the mentality of a drug addict.

I wanted to respond to Words Aside’s question about sibling reaction. I have two daughters who are very close in age, both young adults. My non-addicted daughter has alternately cried, raged, begged (the addict to stop) and turned her back on all of us over these last few years. Fear and frustration seem to guide her emotions. She’s often angry and frustrated with me, but that’s because I’m safe, and because being angry at the addict is futile. Bottom line, the price paid by addicts’ siblings is high, and all we can do as parents is try not to lean on these healthier children too much and not let the addict’s issues overshadow our relationships with them, either. Easier said than done.

Your fight for your sweet daughter is moving. What a battle you are in. As a family we never executed a textbook intervention, and I so wish we had. It was more or less “direct encouragement” for her to seek help. Would it have changed things? Would she have been on the path to recovery today instead of our worst fears coming true? She never wanted it or at least couldn’t pull herself to get there. But I know in my heart she did not want to live this life. Who would? Crossing over the line into sobriety and pushing pass the symptoms must be so terribly painful. Our sweet girl could never push far enough past this to see the light and forever remained in her disease. I am so encouraged that you are now moving towards intervention. Whatever the outcome, Peggy, you are doing the right thing as a mother and someone who loves Hayley unconditionally. Prayers and love are with you.

Dear, dear, Faye. Thank you for your touching and insightful comment. My family’s feeling of helplessness is soooo overwhelming, that we can get paralyzed. However, just in the last few days we have seemed to rally to give it our ‘all’, in trying to get Hayley to treatment, before it’s too late. Your family’s story was an impetus. There is no right or wrong formula here – of what to or not to do. It ends up being a combination of opportunity, timing, chance, intuition, saturation of pain, and luck that moves some one to action. And, of course, that action may be in vain. You and your family are forever in my heart. Our connection is a painful one – but one that teaches us so much about human suffering, giving us the opportunity to perhaps ease that suffering for someone else. Thank you. P.

We held a family intervention for my daughter almost 3 years ago. She had stayed out all night and only came home to change and go to her job at a local restaurant. We flattened her tires so she couldn’t leave, which she tried to do at first. We called her work and told them she had relapsed and wouldn’t be back ( her sister also worked there so she knew the managers very well) and we called her probation officer and left a message to call us back. We then told her how much we loved her, how much we wanted her to choose recovery, etc.. and that if she didn’t agree to go, we would turn her in to her probation officer and her alternative was jail. She went to treatment, reluctantly, but over the next 45 days, ( at La Hacienda, in Hunt TX) she began to ‘get it” for the first time. She has relapsed at least three times in the last 3 years, but has managed to go an entire year sober in there. At least I feel like she has the tools now to choose and work her program. Sorry this is so long but I wanted to share my experience. You and your daughter are in my thoughts.

Thanks for this. I am beginning to understand that relapse is often the reality of a recovering addict’s journey. And each time they relapse, they know more about themselves and can, hopefully, apply what they’ve learned. It’s the school of ‘hard knocks’, I guess. Most of us need to find out for ourselves, what works in life. I’m allowing myself a tiny glimmer of hope right now, that Hayley says she’s ready to go to treatment. However, already, she’s demanding certain conditions – does the treatment center we chose allow suboxone/methadone? (No, it doesn’t) I have no idea how to navigate through this mine field. It will be a miracle if we get her somewhere. Stay tuned.

I understand. You do what you have to do. I wish you luck and success in your endavor. I hope that Hayley is ready to receive help. Just remember to keep your expectations to a minimum or don’t have any at all (which kind of defeats the purpose of what you are trying to do), so in case it does not work out, your disappointment won’t be so devastating. Best of luck. God bless.


Thank you for your post. I had kept checking for your update! The struggle is so tiring. I read your blog and think of my parents. How do Hayleys siblings react to her addiction? I have hunted high and low for sibling accounts but havnt found many. I relate so much to how a parent feels as I love Hannah so much but have recently understood we will never undertand what it is to be the parent of an addict.

PS: My sister and I conducted an intervention on Hannah. It worked at that point. But she didnt complete her rehab. Now she is trying again. Hopefully, someday, something will click…
PPS: I finished reading Beautiful Boy thanks to your recommendation. It moved me beyond belief. Thank you.

Things have been intense and a whirlwind of activity here. I will try to keep my expectations to a minimum. I’m not convinced my daughter truly wants help and out of her addict lifestyle, even though she says she does. I think her drug and $ supply have dried up, so, she’s willing to “try” treatment. I don’t really feel the commitment, but we’ll see.

Peg, just remember, you’re not alone. Whatever you do, whatever happens, there are a lot of us who care about you and Hayley. Stay strong.

This is so comforting – truly. Thank you. I feel your love and support.

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