Jerry Davich: Intervention an empowering process
Jerry Davich email@example.com February 9, 2013 10:56PM
Patty Peters of Stepping Into Change. | Provided photo~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 11, 2013 6:28AM
For several years, the 40-year-old Crown Point woman couldn’t kick her addiction to booze and prescription medications, preferably Xanax.
She kept relapsing again and again, downing the popular anti-anxiety drug by the handful while her husband bristled in frustration. He tried everything — kind love, tough love, using every bit of his love to rescue her from the abyss of addiction.
“I didn’t know what else to do,” her husband told me.
His last shot, and his family’s last shot — an intervention. Just like the kind you watch on TV, complete with a surprise ambush of sorts, caring friends and family on hand, and someone to choreograph the often traumatic exchange.
That someone was Patty Peters, a counselor and consultant who has facilitated more than 250 interventions through her own company, Stepping Into Change.
“I always describe interventions like a dance,” said Peters, who has been in recovery herself for 20 years. “We dance around long enough for them to process and agree to get help.”
“Whether the dance is an immediate surrender to help, or crying, yelling and completely shutting down, it doesn’t matter. We have to give them time to process, give them that space, it’s an empowerment process.”
The husband told Peters he was “100 percent on board. It’s either this or divorce.”
Families and loved ones of addicts are typically afraid to “upset” the addict or they feel as if they’re letting them down somehow. Peters doesn’t agree.
“The truth of the matter is, interventions are done out of love,” Peters said.
“Walking around on egg shells, tippy-toeing around every word you say, every call you make, every question you ask, does not get them help,” Peters told me. “It only sends them deeper into the addiction. You can never do it too early.”
Peters told the husband of the Crown Point woman, “If you’re really done, let’s do an intervention and get her into treatment, away from all she’s familiar with here.”
The key is to remove the addict from the familiar, addictive and, all too often, enabling situation that they’re in. But the addict has to at least be partly on board, not only admitting to their problem but also agreeing to seek help.
“Waiting for an addict to ask for help is unrealistic,” Peters explained. “We are waiting for the one in the biggest fog to think clearly and make rational choices.”
“The sad thing is in so many cases while people wait, addicts die or end up in jail,” she added. “The help that loved ones see as good only allows the addict to escape back into drugs.”
A plan was devised. Peters explored treatment options and found a rehab center with an opening, located in California. The husband asked family and friends to meet at a specific day and time at the couple’s home.
It took place early December last year, after Peters first met with the husband, friends and family to prepare and educate them for the intervention.
“Patty coached us very well on what to expect, what to say and what to hope for,” the husband told me.
The group then met with the wife and asked her “to give us a few moments of her time.” Those few moments stretched into a two-hour intervention.
The wife became upset. She cried. She yelled. She was shocked, overwhelmed and angry. She knew where this was going. But she agreed to listen, a huge breakthrough as anyone knows regarding these situations.
Everyone shared their letters of love, caring and support. They also shared their fears of where they saw her going if she didn’t find treatment. Possibly the grave. They ultimately asked her to accept their help, their love and their heartfelt plans for her.
Eventually, she agreed. A friend escorted her to the airport that day and flew with her to California, where she currently resides in a months-long treatment program.
“She had to leave that day, that minute, so we could seize on that vulnerable moment,” explained the husband, who asked me not to identify them publicly.
Today, his wife is doing “remarkable,” he said. Not only is she kicking her addiction, but more importantly she is addressing the underlying problems behind it. This is another key in anyone’s recovery.
It’s not always the pain pills, but the pain behind the pills, so to speak.
“The intervention worked out much better than I could have ever expected,” the husband said. “Patty was wonderful and she still keeps in touch with me and my wife.”
Even better, he told me, “I have hope again.”
This is only one brief snapshot of an intervention, but I have heard similar success stories from other families who chose this road, too. If you or your family faces such an addiction challenge with a loved one, I encourage you to seek professional help.
Delaying help only delays the inevitable, which always includes more pain and sometimes includes jail time, injury or death. Wouldn’t you rather face your loved one once at an intervention rather than visit them repeatedly at a cemetery?
For more information on Peters, visit www.Steppingintochange.com or call 689-3577.
Missing no longer
Where is Danny Slawnikowski?
That’s what I asked in a column last week after the 51-year-old Portage man had been missing since Jan. 12.
After telling his mother he was going to the store in her car with his girlfriend Tammy Clark, the couple seemingly disappeared. Until early Thursday morning when both of them wound up in jail again.
They were picked up in LaPorte County by sheriff’s police on warrants for failing to appear in court, and then transported to the Porter County Jail.
I also should note that Slawnikowski’s former employer, Great Lakes Plant Services in Gary, fully cooperated with his search.
“We left his cell phone on to allow signal tracking, and also made several attempts daily to make contact with him,” said James McGlothen, the company president. “I commend Dan’s sister for working so diligently in attempting to locate her brother. Everyone should have a sister like her.”
McGlothen also noted that although Slawnikowski was not employed there very long, he passed a pre-employment drug screening test and, later, a random screening test.
“If any of our employees test positive, they are terminated,” he said.
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