As the President and Founder of Family First Intervention, Inc., I would like to share my story with you. In doing so, I hope you can see the importance of what intervention has done not only for thousands we have helped but also what it has done for me and my family.
Mike Loverde, CIP, BS
President and Founder
Family First Intervention, Inc.
What happened, what it was like & what it’s like now
Growing up, I never planned on becoming a substance abuser. When I spoke with my guidance counselor in high school or when I accepted my Bachelor of Science in Finance from Northern Illinois University, I never thought I was going to become a heroin addict. Early on in life, I knew that I wanted attention and probably felt I did not get enough of it. At an early age, I learned the benefits of con and manipulation although never realizing the downside, not until later at least. At the early age of 19, I remember taking two pills called Vicodin that a friend of mine who had cancer gave me. I remembered liking the way I felt. In the following days, I did not think about it again, at least not until the friend offered more. Keep in mind that it is no one’s fault I continued to accept these pills; I take full accountability for that, it was a choice.
Over the next year while attending junior college, I found myself going through people’s medicine cabinets and even having fake prescriptions filled until I got arrested. Because the crime was a first offense and only an attempt charge, I received supervision, and it did not appear on my record. At this time, I made a deal with myself that if I were accepted to Northern Illinois University for business, I would stop and never use again. Needless to say, I was accepted to college, quit cold turkey, and went off to college. In three years, I received a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance and began working for a Fortune 500 telecommunications company in Chicago. In college, I was completely capable of controlling my alcohol intake, proving to myself I had a problem with nothing. At this point in my life, the thought of being a drug addict or losing it all never crossed my mind, not until a friend of mine gave me Vicodin as a graduation gift, and I made the choice to take them.
My Addiction on My Family
Like the first time, I started off slowly. However, I quickly got to a point where I was using Vicodin every day. My habit went up to dangerous levels over the next three years. While this was going on, I excelled in my career, moving on to a big five accounting firm and becoming a model employee. I was the poster child of the “functioning addict.” My illegal activities came to a screeching halt once I got arrested for a felony fake prescription charge with more to follow after that, only making my legal situation worse. My family’s only concern at this point was: “He has to keep that job,” because if he loses that, it will be all over, or so they thought. My parents equated addiction to someone who did not have a job and stole to support the habit. They thought that if I just met the right person to take care of me, I would stop using drugs. Over the next couple of years, my family tried to fix the addiction themselves and did the exact opposite of what most people not emotionally attached to the situation told them to do. It was not until years later that they would realize those people were right, and my family’s way did not work. Everybody said that I needed long-term care away from home. Every program I went to, 19 to be exact, lasted 28 days or less and were located only 20 minutes from home. Since my insurance at the time would only cover a limited amount of treatment, my family thought that would be enough. People told my family not to consider state-funded programs, but that is all I went to. They were told time and again to do an intervention, and the response of my family was: “It will never work, and he won’t go for it.” The only information they actually listened to was the bad information from misinformed counselors, doctors, psychiatrists, and even people from AA or NA who kept telling them I had to want it or hit a bottom.
The Descent into Heroin Addiction
And so, as my family waited for these things to happen, I lost my job, picked up a heroin addiction from a female I met in a state-funded program, and ended up in jail for 90 days. Also, while my family was waiting for me to want it or hit bottom, they were making that impossible by paying all my bills, buying my cigarettes and gas, feeding me, and paying all other living expenses. Remember, the next time that someone says you have to wait for your loved one to hit bottom or want treatment, that will never happen if you are enabling. The actual worst form of enabling my family did, that people probably do not view as enabling, is they actually did nothing at all in regards to changing themselves to rearrange the situation. Many families tell me things like “We are done with them” or “We have done everything,” and this is actually the highest and worst form of enabling known to addiction professionals.
The Family Intervention
After waiting year after year for me to hit bottom or want to stop, my family could not take it anymore—they were at bottom. They realized that waiting for me to wake up and say I have had enough was never going to happen. They had to change the way they handled and viewed my addiction because the addiction was not going to correct itself. The only information they received that was worse than being told I had to want help or hit a bottom was telling my family (or any family for that matter) that I needed to be thrown out on the streets in a tough love kind of way. My family tried that several times, which only left them feeling guilty and me resentful with no accountability for being in the streets. After all, I always thought my problems were everybody else’s fault anyway, so what better way to confirm that theory than being thrown out of the house. I was always good at making my family feel guilty. Sick of feeling this way, my family hired an intervention counselor to come in and perform the intervention. I remember walking into the intervention feeling angry and betrayed and even wanting to walk out, which most do, initially anyway. It only took my intervention counselor having my family read their letters before I broke down and accepted help, and it took only hours for me to walk out of the local treatment center my family insisted I go to, despite all other suggestions.
The Road to Recovery
What happened next is truly why I do interventions today. Not because I said yes to treatment, but because I said no and left treatment. After 19 treatment attempts, I would always work my way back into the house by making my family believe it would be different this time, even convincing them to let me sign a contract. That only taught me to become a better liar. When I showed back up at my mother’s door after leaving treatment, an amazing thing happened. For the first time in her life, she did not let me manipulate her into letting me back in the house, and she called the police. For 4 days, I did everything I could to rearrange my family back to the way I had them before, you know, the way that worked for me and not them. The reason they would not let me control them is because of the intervention education. Had it not been for my family rearranging the entire universe, no longer listening to bad information, and doing an intervention, I would not be alive today. In addition, I live today in peace with a family of my own, and I dedicate my life to helping people receive correct information about intervention and addiction. When it comes to treating addiction, I always put the family first.