Rosenberg: You talk in The Interventionist about the addiction of codependency and needing to take care of or please others. When you wrest someone from the depths of their addiction and bring them to rehab and the doorstep of recovery, do you want them to appreciate it and thank you?
Gammill: Being a nurse for 17 years, including working on neonatal units, I learned how to let go of a patient. You can't get emotionally involved and carry around attachments or you're sunk.
Rosenberg: How else has being an RN helped your interventionist work?
Gammill: Well, of course as a nurse with seven years of drug and alcohol rehab nursing, I know the medical piece of addiction and withdrawal and how to deal with the shakes or DTs that can occur during transport. Just a few weeks ago, I had a patient who I sensed, as a nurse, had something else going on besides alcohol intoxication. It turns out she had bleeding on the brain from a fall, which happens a lot to alcoholics.
Rosenberg: There is no doubt that intervention work takes to heart the 12th step of Alcoholics Anonymous which says," Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics" and demonstrates how working with others keeps recovering people sober themselves. But doesn't publicizing patients' battles with drugs or alcohol glamorize addiction and violate anonymity?
Gammill: Anonymity is a personal choice that has to be respected -- like all medical conditions. But when someone's struggle with addiction becomes reality TV, it shows families how difficult the battle is and can get them treatment they could normally never afford. I personally got three months of rehab treatment from being on the Dr. Phil Show, which I would never have had -- probably worth $90,000. Most health policies, including mine, don't cover drug and alcohol treatment.
Rosenberg: Has your work given you a clearer picture of why some people "get" recovery and others don't?
Gammill: Well, I used to try to predict...but really you could ask why someone recovers from any disease, like cancer. I think sometimes having a lot of money can be a barrier to recovery because having to work somehow aids recovery. But mostly the keys are nothing we haven't heard before: spiritual contact with a higher power, working with a sponsor and working the steps.