Punishment or Research

So, we made it through the holidays. It wasn’t easy, it had its up and downs. But thankfully they are behind us. B-E-H-I-N-D U-S!!! We enjoyed Christmas Eve at The Smolinsky’s which we all thoroughly enjoyed. As always. It was full of food, laughter, drinks for those able. Nice way to start the holiday. And as promised, I assaulted Danna’s preggers belly which is both adorable and unbelievable, (unbelievable because I still cannot believe she is preggers!). JoDee spent much over due time with DJ and Calvin. Over-all happy. Even Jay J and Jared hung out and that is priceless.

Christmas Day was basically fine. We had some small schedule snafu’s which typically happen when you are dealing with multiply cultures (and others feel their time is less valuable than their own, a story for another day) and multi-families. Again, we managed through the day. Played cards against humanity. Oh my god did we laugh. That game is hilarious. That was a lot of fun. Then the fun was over and it was time for JoDee to head home, the girls to retreat to the basement, for me to pass out on my bed with the post-christmas-hang-over that only a parent can appreciate. I knew something was amiss when JoDee kept saying she didn’t want to go to the Narcathon, or to a meeting. I won’t rehash the events, but we all know that it ended (the next day) with me having a blow out with JoDee and cutting ties with her. That has been much harder than I thought it would be. I was so angry, Rage was so wonderful to me, it almost seemed easy. I did all the things I said I would do when the time came to cut her off, and I was proud of myself. For about 8 seconds. Then the realization that she might not take her meds, or spend all her money, or crash her car, or not eat started to settle in and sleep (whatever little bit I was getting) completely departed. Reality kept reminding me that she can take care of herself. When I was her age I was taking care of 2 kids. Literally. Jay J was born right before I turned 21 so by the time I was her age, he was already here. The point being we figure out how to survive and do what we have to when we need too and so will she. She will have to. She will swim. I will swim. We will all swim even if they are in different waters. Alas, we will all do what needs to be done. Hopefully.

The other night when I could not sleep, I stumbled across re-runs of Intervention. INTERVENTION PEOPLE! HELLO! Do I not have enough firsthand knowledge of drug use that I need to watch this crap! Of course, I watched them until 4 in the morning.  What a strange experience this was. For many reasons. Let’s review. Lynne and I used to faithfully watch Intervention every Monday night and would rush into work Tuesday to talk about what we had seen. The conversations usually went something like:

  1. Omg I hated that mother, no wonder the kid was an addict.
  2. Omg I hated that guy, he is so not going to make it.
  3. That girl was a skank and needs to grow the hell up.
  4. I hope he overdoses.

Yup. I’m ashamed to say we were judgmental, uneducated and completely heartless in the way we judged those putting themselves on display for the sake of their loved one.  I would do anything, ANYTHING, if it would mean long-term clean time. I would make a blood oath for my soul to the devil. I would even, allow my family to be on national TV with all of our dirty laundry aired out, as much as that would suck. The realization of how hard it must have been for those poor people to let us, the naive viewing population, into their intimate, lowest moments was completely lost on me until now. I just never realized how hard it must have been to know that everyone would see your child or spouse or mother or grandmother in one particular case, in such a disgusting, dirty, vile situation. Selling their body, drugs, their prized possessions or the possessions of someone else. Stealing, acting vulgar, nodding off, vomiting, manipulating and hating life itself. It is indescribably hard to watch JoDee like that and no one else really sees it but me and whatever hospital I drag her too kicking and screaming.  I can’t imagine knowing that my arch enemies, my loved ones, my family, my co-workers could all see that on TV so that JoDee could have a chance to go to a top-notch rehab? Sickening to think about. In some ways, now that I am more educated, it seems exploiting to the families and the addict. This is really for entertainment purposes, is it not? So basically, you allow us to be entertained by your families’ struggles and worst moments in life and in return we will give you a stay at a rehab that otherwise would not be available. Wow. I’m not condemning the show, even though now that I look back at it, it makes me somewhat uncomfortable that I was in fact entertained, because they successfully helped many people and their families. According to The Daily Beast (link below) there is a 71% success rate for the addicts they help. That’s pretty good.  I mean, the rehabs they send them too are between $50k and $120K for the 90 day stay, something that is way, way out of reach for the average person. When I was watching the shows, almost as though I have never seen them before with my new perspective, all I could think is, JoDee never went to any place like that. Where she went they had bed bugs, people stealing your clothes, and dingy used furniture with folding chairs being held together with duct or electrical tape. They were not set up in beautiful surroundings with nutritionists, nurses, social workers and psychiatrists on staff. The places that JoDee has been are either so religious that they are throwing holy water on her and jumping back to see if she will combust or have washer and dryers so decrepit she would be better off beating her clothes on rocks at a local stream. The message I am receiving here is the rich are worthy of good recovery while the poor should just accept the inevitable or you can sell your privacy and remaining dignity to get someone else to pay for it for you. I would do it. In a second. For JoDee to get 90 days or longer in one of those fancy-shmancy rehabs with 3 course meals and real mental health workers that can diagnose, treat and follow-up on true illness, I would let A&E into my house to video tape whatever the hell they wanted too. Isn’t that sad? I think it is. Those types of facilities should be reachable to anyone.

So, given that I have a pretty good understanding of how addiction works, and I am not likely going to be able to get that sort of rehabilitation for JoDee anytime soon, and she certainly is going to get it herself, one might asked why I watched 6 episodes of torture. I can tell you honestly, this time it was not for the entertainment value. I was not entertained, though I was riveted.  Instead of judging the parents/loved ones/non-using characters on the show, I empathized with them. I understood why they have done the things they have done. I can see how the families enabled their addict. It happens so slowly and in your head you justify how you’re actually helping the addict from hurting themselves instead of seeing that your actions help the addict stay sick. In one of the episodes a woman was so addicted to pills that her husband took the pills, locked them in a safe that he carried in his car and would dispense pills to her at his will. He said he did this to prevent her from overdosing in front of her sons. It never really dawned on him to tell the doctor she was an addict and take the kids to hit the road.  There were hundreds of these examples while watching these shows. One of the interventionist said something that really resonated with me; he said that drug addicts could not be addicts if we didn’t make it easy for them. How freaking true is that???? I mean, hard-core addicts, once cut from their family, will figure out how to get drugs, i.e., stealing, robbing, borrowing, scrounging but it won’t last forever. Refer back to Jail, Institutions or Death. But for the most part, we are usually supporting (and by support I mean give money, a place to live, take their lies, give our time/energy, etc.) the addict to allow them to continue to use. And somehow their recovery, at least in my case- JoDee’s recovery, becomes my problem. I would be desperately making calls, trying to find a treatment center, fighting with insurance, while she slept on the couch or watched Crazy Dance Mom’s or something like that. I would be near tears trying to call in every favor I could while I would hear her say “Oh my god, Abby is nuts!” Watching a cray cray amount of Intervention was definitely educational for me. And a penance. I had to silently ask forgiveness from those who have never met me for being so judgmental because now I understood their struggle. I also heard what those interventionist told those families. Stop helping them be sick. Stop helping them be sick. Strong words. Couldn’t be more truthful. And it was, dare I say, comforting (???) to see how difficult it was for them, and they had the support of an entire Intervention Team. They got time at the Betty Ford Clinic, and attended Family Week at said Fancy-schmancy rehab.  I have had to sit across from JoDee and her social worker and tell them their great plan isn’t going to work because she can’t use my car anymore, trying desperately to avoid looking at the crestfallen look on JoDee’s face.  It’s not just the purposeful manipulation but the incidental hurt that you see in their eyes when they realize you are let down again. I know that JoDee knows I am in a bad place if I am saying no, which is a reminder that she is in a bad place which in turn makes me feel bad for making her feel that way. I would feel guilty for being resentful because I couldn’t go out to dinner because JoDee’s call time was a two-hour window and I didn’t want to miss it. I would feel guilty that I would be mad at her because I skipped my book group, again, so I could go to the visit time since no one else was going. Seeing Intervention from this perspective made me realize, I shouldn’t feel guilty and it isn’t just OK to say no, it’s necessary. Boundaries are good. Riding the guilt bus through life means missing all the joy. I’m assuming it will get easier, and then harder, and then easier. I am assuming it is a life time of reminding myself that I have worked hard, I have loved with all my heart, I have tried my best and I don’t have to feel guilty anymore. Just for today, I’m going to give myself a break.





4 thoughts on “Punishment or Research

  1. Lisa says:

    I know the average person thinks everyone lives happily ever after once the addict is on the plane and the music plays in the background. If only it were that simple. We sent our son to a treatment center which has been featured several times on intervention. We found it thru a referral, however, and not as a result of the show. It was far from fancy and cost much less than 50k for the first 3 months. Meals were ok, but there were no fancy extras. I think addicts need 2 make their own beds & clean the toilets. What I think worked at this facility was it’s long term focus. My son was in treatment there 10 months and then spent 2 more years in their sober living facility. The other thing that I think worked was living with other addicts in recovery for such a long period of time. It makes me sick what some of these treatment centers cost, knowing that families are draining their life savings trying to find help for their kids. Our children should all have access to treatment. They are sick. I enjoy reading your blog. I look forward to the day you can write about your daughter in long term recovery.


    • I totally agree that addicts should have rules and structure which is really a big part of recovery. JoDee went to one rehab in Arizona that was gorgeous, and new and she was on the housekeeping crew and then worked in Food Service. And then she ran away. I could pay for her to go to a $100k a month facility (I mean, theoretically because I am not Rockefella!) but it wouldn’t do any good if she isn’t there. And she isn’t. JoDee does not see the value of her life, or life in general. There is no happy awaiting plane to whisk her off to anywhere. Even now, she is living in sober housing and I know she isn’t clean. I know it in my gut. I don’t need to see her, or talk to her, I know it as an instinct. I hope someday she gets to a place where she is ready to truly join the fight for her life, before it’s too late and she loses her life.


  2. Jill says:

    Once again, your blog hits home with me in so many ways. I have been recording and watching Intervention lately, too. I’ve been watching to compare my enabling traits to the families on the show. I didn’t make any resolutions for the new year, but I did make myself a promise that I have got to find my boundaries and draw the line. Having two addicts living under my roof is taking its toll and I don’t want to go through another year as stressed and miserable as I’ve been the past 3. So far, it’s not working. Same shit, different day.

    It’s interesting you bring up the rehabs and the tv show. I pulled my youngest daughter from a crap rehab like you described last month after 4 days. Big mistake, but I don’t regret it. It was chaos from the gitgo for multiple reasons and I had no desire to travel there 3 days a week to participate in support activities. Hell, I wanted to use when I left there and I don’t drink or do drugs. Anyway, last week my husband and I actually did a Skype call with a producer for a teen intervention show. I’m praying and crossing every body part that they swoop in and take this kid to one of these rehabs. That will help me with 1. I have also emailed Intervention for their casting call to see about help for the older one. No word from them. I never thought I would reach the point of desperation where I would air my dirty laundry. Now I don’t care. My husband and I were watching Intervention tonight and we both just sighed and said, “Why can’t we get our girls into someplace like that? Maybe we could get our life back.” Heavy sigh. Thank you for once again assuring me I’m not alone. There are far too many of us in this same position.


    • It’s amazing the things we say we couldn’t believe we would ever do, but now seem like they may be the saving grace! If I thought for one minute that one of those rehabs would help I would try. After another allnight stint in the ER witha strung out JoDee, we are waiting for a detox bed. Then… it all starts again. I’m afraid to even try calling Intervention (the show) because they might take her and A) I’m not sure I want to see what really goes on in her life when the show airs and B) she would probably go to rehab, leave after 30 days, like she does everything esle and that would mean someone who would stay might not get a spot. Such a vicious cycle.


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