These stories don’t come across my path often as I can usually lead families to understand how important it is not to wait. By the time you make the call to me so much devastation has already taken place and I never waver on the importance of today. Today is when this needs to happen. Yesterday is already gone and tomorrow may never come for most. Addiction ends one way or another. Death or Life. Just because alcohol is legal, acceptable and sociable doesn’t mean it won’t kill any differently than heroin or prescription pills.
The timeline: October 17th-November 3rd. 17 days.
October 17th I received a call from a mother who claimed her daughter had been drinking a long time, the daughter was a bartender and in denial that there was a problem despite the fact that she was hospitalized recently with pain in her abdomen. This girl, 31 has had numerous DUI’s, some with her young children in the car.
This mother called to see what could be done to help her daughter. I took a full history on her daughter as best as mom knew and found that, like with every single addiction story I have ever encountered, this poor girl was an emotional and psychological mess.
We chatted about the possibility of an intervention and found that it was the best solution for her daughter. She said that the plan was to “talk with her” that weekend to try and get her to realize her addiction and to “convince” her to get help. They were adamant about doing it “their way” and thought that this time would be different. I told her that this is a method they have attempted for years and nothing has changed, in fact, according to the mom, her daughter has gotten worse.
I had no control over the family’s decision to try this again so after the weekend was over I called her immediately to see what happened not knowing what I was to hear on the other end.
She didn’t answer my call, text or respond to my voicemails. I made a number of attempts at reaching out to her knowing full well that many times when a family takes this route, they don’t want to hear “I told you so” (family only “talks” have less than 1% success rate) so many will not pick up the phone and will go dark on me for days if not weeks.
By the way, I have never told any family “I told you so”. I get it. It’s hard, it’s an emotional and financial commitment. It’s a unique process and the word “intervention” that can for some, have a negative connotation as they see ambush, attack, judgement, confrontation and dragging their loved one to a treatment center. This is the exact opposite of how we love your loved one.
I kept trying to connect with her. I was afraid for this girl with two young children who for all intents and purposes had been crying out for years only for her tears and wailing to fall on deaf ears. I do this all day every day and through the vein of addiction runs the same through every family, every family has its own unique set of dynamics and dysfunction but most are either in denial or enabling them to their grave and have no clue the reality they are in. When a family tells me they are going to “try again” to talk with their loved one, that is the reddest flag waved. It’s their own cry for help, hence the subsequent call to me. So though most families that get to the point of bravery in making that call, I can usually help them put into perspective the real possibility that this process works. The red flag keeps me running to the fire that is surely burning.
Two weeks go by. I get a text in response to a text I sent to mom in the morning expressing my ongoing concern for the family and in particular her daughter. This is her response;
“Please be advised that our daughter died last night. We were too late.”
I stared at my phone which seemed to be an eternal vacuum. I couldn’t believe the manner in which she texted nor the fact that it read “we were too late”
Why, oh why do families wait??? The money that could have been spent on saving her life will now be spent on her casket and funeral not to mention the mental and emotional price to the family and those two small children. Broke me. I could do nothing but cry and tell her that I had no words but that I will pray for her and those children who now have to go through life without their mother, without the love and nurturing that they deserve and the loss that they all have now incurred at the expense of waiting.