It was 7:00 AM in Aston, PA located in Delaware County on a cold January morning. The night before I participated in an intense family education process with the interventionist. A group of 15 of us approached the front door of the home. To our surprise it was barricaded from the inside. He must have known we were coming. One of the group climbed through a window, and let us in through the garage. What happened next was one of the most emotionally powerful moments of my life. The family and friends gathered in a circle in the basement of the suburban home. Our struggling friend came down the steps with a mix of fear, anger, and surprise on his face. We told him we loved him very much, but this had to stop. Family began reading their letters of love. The whole room was crying non-stop. At the end the interventionist asked one question. He said " Are you ready for recovery?" and the man looked down at the ground then up at us all and responded "Yes". The weight dropped from the room and in a matter of no time he was off to treatment. Such is the power of an intervention.
We are in Philadelphia, PA which some say is ground zero of the opioid epidemic. According the City of Philadelphia you are more likely to die from an opioid overdose then a homicide. Drug addiction is a DEMON. Anyone who ever has had a loved one addicted to drugs or alcohol knows this disease is real. Usually the people on the internet crying over Narcan being given out to dying addicts because of the disease vs. choice debate have literally zero experience with an addiction. No one willingly chooses to drain their bank account. No one willingly chooses to spend years in jail. No one willingly chooses to destroy every meaningful relationship they have in order to use drugs. If you disagree with me. Fight me. Just kidding. But I will pray that you never have to deal with an addiction first hand.
One of the hardest things to do when dealing with the other worldly force known as addiction is to separate the substance from the person struggling which is the first step in recovery, but damn is it difficult to get them there. That is why we decided to sit down with a Professional Interventionist in Philadelphia, PA by the name of James Reidy. Jim was the interventionist in the true story above, and has performed over 300 successful interventions in his career with an over 90% success rate. Later this year he will be featured on A&E's nationally televised show called "Intervention". And by the way Jim helped my friend at no cost or charge to the family. I am very grateful for Jim. James Reidy can be found at www.addictiontreatmentgroup.com . I wholeheartedly recommend him.
James! How are you doing?!
Good brother been sitting here for the last 2 hours waiting for you. Like a good sober man would do.
I bet you have. Lets get to it. Tell us why did you choose to become an interventionist? Which is probably one of the hardest jobs on the planet.
The first time in my life that I heard the word interventionist, and that I had the ability to become that, I knew that was my purpose. . I knew that was my calling. I was trained by Intervention Services out of Lowell, Indiana by a woman named Patty Peters, CIP(Certified Intervention Professional), and Phil Kelly, CIP through what is known as the Johnson Model of intervention also known as the surprise model where families read their letters of love to the person suffering with the addiction.
I have seen you in action. You are pretty damn good. What makes a good interventionist?
A good interventionist has to be able to connect with the family first. The people who are suffering at the hands of the addiction. Secondly, you have always have an open mind and open heart. As that person sits there on their worst day you have to say I have sat there myself. I am not meeting them on their best day. I know this because I was there 13 years ago. I know their pain.
What intervention do you remember the most and why?
The most memorable intervention I had was a local intervention in Rockledge, Pennsylvania where I got a call at 11PM at night to come to a family's home at 2AM to meet with a person suffering. I went there. We connected. We cried. And within 4 hours he was on his way to treatment. The high point of this story is that the family still reaches out, and their son is 4 years sober! One thing I want to convey that i think is very important is that not one interventionist on the planet earth has ever saved someones life ever! That is complete and utter bulls*#%. What is true is that an educated professional interventionist will expose a suffering family and their loved one to a much better way of life. That’s where we make our mark. That is the truth.
What was the craziest intervention you have ever done?
All interventions are crazy because you get to take a real close look into the minds eye to see how sick people really are. One intervention that sticks out was in Elkton, Maryland. We conducted it a 5:00AM. We entered the home. Father first, me second. On the other side of the door was a machete. As I walked through the door I did not see the afflicted person. The father did. As this person went to take this machete to my jugular the father blocked it. That is how the intervention started. We still intervened. The kid was using massive amounts of drugs and he was not of right mind to accept recovery right at that time, but in my experience most people generally do even if it isn't that day. He passed out from all the drug use. And in the midst of all this he accidentally burnt his parents home to the ground. The next day we were on the way to his recovery in a treatment center.
What was the highlight of your career?
I did an intervention on a 31 year old heroin addict. It was myself his grandma, and his mother in Boston, Massachusetts. He was living in a shed at the back of his grandma's property because he had stolen everything from the house. His family wanted to give him one last chance so they brought me in. After doing the educational day and showing them the path to love I had a feeling this kid might not go to treatment for his addiction. The next day we walked into the shed. There was no roof, and he was just pulling a needle out of his arm while standing there completely naked with his girlfriend on a piss soaked mattress also naked. We intervened for 2 hours. The amount of perspiration coming from this human being was insane. Sweat popped on his head. Finally he agreed to go, and 20 minutes later we were on our way to Boston and into recovery. He is still sober to this day.
This might be a stupid question, but how do you know if you need an intervention?
Why do families wait to the bitter end for an intervention? You know when your loved one needs to be intervened on. You begged them to get into recovery, and placed every means possible in front them, and they still reject it. They still want to be entrenched in the drug and alcohol lifestyle. I want families to understand that interventions are a healthy loving thing. They are not ugly. They are not supposed to be a guerrilla warfare attack. This is about stopping someone before they go off the cliff because we all know know dead people cannot recover. An intervention has never not produced something positive.
Do you have any guidance for the family or tips?
Yes. IF anything I could say right to the families that are suffering from this ... the most wise words….for the love of God….get out of your own way. Stop thinking will power, money, job, girlfriend, wife or anything else for that matter can quell addiction. This is a chronic relapsing brain disorder. Your loved one needs help not a job.
Thanks for your time Jim!!
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