Allan Blackwell:            Welcome to Your 20-minute podcast with David Brower, where we do our best to give you useful information in 20 minutes or less. Now, here’s your host, five time voice arts award’s nominee, David Brower.

David Brower:              Thanks Allan, this is David Brower with Your 20-minute podcast. Our special guest today from Sonoma, California, is Steve Bruno. He’s been a professional interventionist for over 17 years and helped literally hundreds of families help those they love recover from addiction and alcoholism, and he’s also an author. His book, More Than Hope, offers an inside into the mind of the addict, and lays out strategies geared to help families. So Steve, welcome to the show. How are you, man?

Steve Bruno:                Good, thank you for having me.

David Brower:              Absolutely. Absolutely. So you’ve got a long story that got you into this endeavor, right? How do you go from Steve Bruno, child, to Steve Bruno, veteran interventionist?

Steve Bruno:                Well, you have to have a long middle chapter there …

David Brower:              So true.

Steve Bruno:                … titled Steve Bruno, the addict.

David Brower:              There you go.

Steve Bruno:                And obviously I mean I wasn’t an addict all the time, but my life was a booster, and I had stellar successes. Student body president in high school, and in college. Followed by these cliffhanging chapters of drug use, cocaine, meth, crack, at different points in my life depending on where I was living. And yeah, by the time I had gone through treatments, six times, I had given up.

David Brower:              Wow.

Steve Bruno:                My family came down and did an intervention on me, and I was not in denial. I felt broken, and it didn’t matter.

David Brower:              Yeah.

Steve Bruno:                It didn’t matter what I did. Didn’t matter what I tried. It was never going to work. And-

David Brower:              Did you not care about-

Steve Bruno:                So, they did this- hmm?

David Brower:              Did you not care about anything at that point?

Steve Bruno:                I did, but I just couldn’t seem to make it work.

David Brower:              Yeah.

Steve Bruno:                I cared a lot.

David Brower:              Yeah.

Steve Bruno:                And this is the thing a lot of addicts, people, families will overlook. And they say, “Well, the addict doesn’t care,” but the reason that the addict is using, and is in so much internal conflict, is because he cares.

David Brower:              Yeah.

Steve Bruno:                I’ve been doing interventions for years, as you’ve already mentioned, and I have never done intervention on somebody who was insensitive. Usually people that I’m hired to help are very sensitive and very intelligent, and that’s why they get so very, very stuck under the burden of their own wrongdoing and in the cycle of addiction, solving that burden on a daily basis by, you know, with drugs or alcohol.

David Brower:              And so the experience that you had obviously helps you communicate much better than concerned families that don’t know much about anything, right?

Steve Bruno:                That’s right. That’s right. Eventually I shared the intervention, what happened at the intervention, with my dealer, with my meth dealer.

David Brower:              Okay.

Steve Bruno:                And she had asked me, “What’s the meeting about?” And I told her, and ironically, she said, “Steve, you should go.”

David Brower:              Wow.

Steve Bruno:                “You should go to the program.” So my dealer talks me into going. She said, “I’ve been worried about you because you’re just, you smoke more meth than anybody I know. You’re going to kill yourself.”

David Brower:              Yeah.

Steve Bruno:                And so, anyway, I ended up going to the program and graduating. And in answer to your question, yes, just after two weeks after graduating, I did my first intervention, and all of my years of using and struggling with depression and my family and drugs used and treatment and all this, suddenly came to bear. It suddenly became this skill set …

David Brower:              Wow.

Steve Bruno:                … where I could see into the mechanics of a family who has an addict, and is struggling with the chaos of it, invariably is part of that life. And I was able to get the guy into treatment the next day, and yeah, I’ve never looked back.

David Brower:              Wow.

Steve Bruno:                That’s how I got into the business. Yeah. So yeah, something to be said for experience over academics.

David Brower:              Well, yeah. It’s interesting to me, in a good way, that your dealer even noticed that, “Dude, you need some help,” or you’re not going to be here tomorrow, you know?

Steve Bruno:                Yeah.

David Brower:              Wow. I mean to live through that, now to be able to share that life with different people over the last 17 years or so, I mean that’s got to be unbelievably satisfying for you, not to mention the families that you’re affecting.

Steve Bruno:                I got a call on Thanksgiving from this guy Taylor … Tyler, I’m sorry, Tyler. Tyler, 22 year old I helped, and the intervention … And just so your listeners know, this is unusual, but the intervention took 10 days. And I was getting ready to just close the file on this one, I mean I was out and I was … He was riding his bike around in the middle of the night every night getting meth.

David Brower:              Yeah.

Steve Bruno:                We’d already been through an eviction with him and all of this, and anyway, it was a very sad story, but basically I was able to get him in. So he calls me on Thanksgiving to thank me.

David Brower:              Wow.

Steve Bruno:                For helping get him into treatment, and that he was doing really well in the program. And I don’t often get calls from clients because a lot of time the addict or alcoholic will just … They don’t want to remember the intervention, they don’t have any, you know, but occasionally I’ll get a call. Tyler was doing really well, and he’s going to stay in San Diego where the program is, and live there, and he’s really happy. Yeah, that’s pretty satisfying.

David Brower:              Boy, no kidding.

Steve Bruno:                To have helped somebody go from riding around on their bike in the middle of the night, somewhere in West Virginia, and buying meth and wasting away his youth.

David Brower:              Wow. That’s incredible, man.

Steve Bruno:                Yeah.

David Brower:              That’s incredible.

Steve Bruno:                Yeah. Yeah. Well, and I don’t need any credit. I mean, like I said, I … And I wrote the book. I didn’t write the book thinking I was going to make money with it, or thinking I was going to become famous with it. I wrote the book because families need the viewpoint of an addict when it comes to helping an addict. They really do, and there’s very few, you know, there are very few books out there about this. About how a family can win when they’re challenged by the chaos and the mess that is often the life of an addict. But yeah, no, Tyler just called me on his own. It wasn’t an apology or anything like that.

David Brower:              Right, right.

Steve Bruno:                He got my number from his mom and called me to thank me for helping him out. Yeah, I’ve gotten that a couple of time.

David Brower:              That’s cool.

Steve Bruno:                And there are stories in my book. There was a young woman, Kate, in Bellevue. She’s, the story in the book is Sarah. She was wealthy. She had $2 million in the bank. She had a big house, and she had a bong and had a very nasty crack cocaine addiction, and she initially agreed to go to a program, and then she missed her flight, and then we went back the next day, and she didn’t answer the door.

David Brower:              Wow.

Steve Bruno:                So she missed the next flight.

David Brower:              Yeah.

Steve Bruno:                And by the third flight she’d missed, her mom, I remember turned to me and said, “Steve, why don’t you just go home. She’s just lying.” And this is something that often is sort of bypassed by families. She wasn’t lying, and this is the case with a lot of addicts. She was stuck.

David Brower:              Yeah.

Steve Bruno:                She was stuck and she was chained, shackled, to this drug. And so we stuck it out a couple more days to get her onto a plane. Finally, get her into a program, and she graduated six months later. She got a degree in addiction counseling and she became the program director for a women’s recovery program in Newport Beach.

David Brower:              Oh my God. I got goosebumps on that one, man. That’s wow. That’s cool.

Steve Bruno:                Well, and this is the recurring theme that is going to get us out of this opioid epidemic, and any drug epidemic, is going to be those who have recovered helping those who haven’t.

David Brower:              Yeah.

Steve Bruno:                It’s not going to be as though some government intervention, I’m sorry, but it’s going to come from us helping one another.

David Brower:              Yeah. Well, and yeah, I mean it’s pay it forward on steroids. I mean, you know?

Steve Bruno:                Right.

David Brower:              No drug pun intended there, but. So the book, More Than Hope. The Intervention Guidebook. What Works. What Doesn’t. What To Do and How To Do It. That’s the name of the book. It’s on Amazon, and it says volume one, so are you working on volume two?

Steve Bruno:                I am. I’m working on a workbook for families so they can fill-in, sort of answer the questions as they go along.

David Brower:              Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Steve Bruno:                And then I’m working a book called, The Exploding Workshop, which is just a collection of true stories, true interventions.

David Brower:              Nice.

Steve Bruno:                So look for those next year. Yeah.

David Brower:              That’s very cool. Well in reading some of your … I mean all of your reviews are five stars. I mean people are really connecting to what you’re doing here, and some of the … What was one of the reviews? It was like basically the guy said, “Man, I had no idea,” right? What about the life of an addict.

Steve Bruno:                Yeah, it’s not dry reading.

David Brower:              No, it’s not.

Steve Bruno:                Yeah. No.

David Brower:              Absolutely not. I mean just reading through part of it, and I’m going … I mean all you got to do is read one, two, three of those reviews and realize that you don’t know what you don’t know, and you better pick up that book.

Steve Bruno:                At the beginning, I tell my story of addiction, and then I tell the story of my intervention, from my viewpoint at the time. And then my mother wrote a chapter about my intervention from her viewpoint at the time.

David Brower:              Perfect.

Steve Bruno:                So I tried to … A lot of its first-person narrative, real grit, frontline stuff, and then there’s a lot of strategic advice I give. And then as I said, the last section is six true stories. So yeah, it’s not like a textbook or something. [It’s kind of bringing people into-

David Brower:              Yeah, it’s not for the faint of heart. It’s real life stuff.

Steve Bruno:                Right.

David Brower:              Right?

Steve Bruno:                Oh yeah.

David Brower:              So how do people, how do families find you? Somebody’s sitting at home in Kelso, Washington, and they think they … They don’t think. They know they need to have some kind of intervention. They don’t know what to do, where to go, who to talk to. How does that kind of a situation find you?

Steve Bruno:                Well often, I mean as far as your listeners go, they can just go to my website, My book, as you mentioned, is on Amazon, More Than Hope. My name is Steve Bruno, as you said, and I’m one person. There are a lot of people out there who can help. I’m often found through when families contact a treatment center, I typically work through referral, but More Thank Hope is the website and the title of the book. So they can go there and my phone number is there, and they’re welcome to call or fill out the contact form if they’re more comfortable with that.

David Brower:              There you go.

Steve Bruno:                People don’t have to be hiring me to talk to me, I want to say that. I’m always happy to talk shop and to give advice if I can help. If there’s a situation out there that I can help with, I’ll help with it.

David Brower:              Well, in fact, on your website, I’m looking at this website, but you’ve got a free consultation tab there where people could just reach out and get a hold of you.

Steve Bruno:                Right. And not to confuse people, is It’s the same.

David Brower:              Okay. Okay.

Steve Bruno:                Both of those go to the same website.

David Brower:              Okay, cool. So, and you’ll have information there about Steve. Some of the stories, there’s a blog there that you can read about. You can read about his bio, and read the book. And you’re on social media, I’ve never seen so many social media icons anywhere, dude. You are like everywhere. That’s awesome. I mean, I don’t even know what some of these are, you know? Delicious? I don’t know what that is.

Steve Bruno:                Yeah, I probably don’t either, to be honest. I outsource that stuff, you know?

David Brower:              Good for you. Good for you. I know that drill. So can I ask you a personal question?

Steve Bruno:                Sure.

David Brower:              So when you get done with a 10-day intense, over the top, harder than you expected intervention, and it’s successful, how much does that drain you? I mean, do you need counseling after that? Do you need to vent after that?

Steve Bruno:                Do I need counseling?

David Brower:              How do you take care of yourself is what I’m asking?

Steve Bruno:                To be honest with you, the main thing that wears me down is the travel. It is a lot of flying and often a lot of driving just to help me out with what I’m dealing with, and it can be all hours of the night. I mean I had case out in Las Vegas, and the guy was … I first was introduced to him, he immediately started talking about the Illuminati new world order and there’s FBI agents in the trees, and all this. He was really gone on meth.

David Brower:              Yeah.

Steve Bruno:                And so I knew I wasn’t going to be able to get him on a plane, TSA, like that.

David Brower:              Yeah, sure.

Steve Bruno:                So I had the mom rent a car, and we basically took all day to get him squared away, get him all packed up. I actually … Well, I don’t know if I should get into this, but it is what it is. I baited him with the prospect of getting him some of his drug of choice for him if he were packed up and ready to go.

David Brower:              Gotcha.

Steve Bruno:                So he got packed up, and he got ready to go. And I fulfilled my side of the deal, and he sat in the back, and got high, and I drove him out to Newport Beach. So that’s a long day.

David Brower:              Absolutely. Absolutely.

Steve Bruno:                That’s a long day. So yeah. As an interventionist, there’s sort of an ebb and flow to the work. It’s not like you get up and go to work at 9:00 in the morning. An intervention comes in and it’s a certain kind of storm, and you have to sort of take it apart and deal with what it is. And at the end, yeah, just hope you get a couple days before you need to do it again.

David Brower:              Do it again, yeah.

Steve Bruno:                It is very wearing.

David Brower:              I would think so.

Steve Bruno:                But yeah, I value my …

David Brower:              Your downtime.

Steve Bruno:                … decompression time. Yeah.

David Brower:              Yeah, there you go.

Steve Bruno:                A lot.

David Brower:              Well you’ve got to be, I mean your listening skills have to be through the top. I mean to be able to truly, authentically listen to not only the addict, but the family, because their emotions are high and in different places, and wow. Hats off to you, man. So how many interventions have you done, roughly?

Steve Bruno:                Probably, well, somewhere between 400 and 500.

David Brower:              Yeah. Fascinating how many lives you’ve changed.

Steve Bruno:                I’m not sure of the exact number.

David Brower:              Yeah.

Steve Bruno:                But yeah, you’re right, I mean people think that the addicts are the one that’s messed up, and they have that image that the rest of the family is sort of together, but that’s not the case.

David Brower:              Not even close.

Steve Bruno:                The families are … Yeah, I mean everybody is usually has there … First of all everybody has their own opinion about what should be done or how it should be done, and all of that. And then people get advice that Al-Anon meetings, or they go and they get advice from their friend who had a friend who did an intervention.

David Brower:              Yeah, sent a letter to Dear Abby. That’s always a good one.

Steve Bruno:                Yeah. And well, that’s what got me writing the book, actually, is when I first started doing interventions, I was posed this question. The very first family I worked with, the first question the mom asked me was, “How are you going to get David,” in this case, “How are you going to get David to admit that he has a problem?” And I stood there, I remember thinking why would I do that?

David Brower:              Yeah.

Steve Bruno:                Why would I try to get … I mean I was more honest with my dealer than I was with my mother.

David Brower:              Yeah, understood.

Steve Bruno:                So as an addict, I’m thinking, “Why in God’s name would I try to get some guy to admit something to his mother?”

David Brower:              Yeah.

Steve Bruno:                Like that just didn’t compute. And then the more families I worked with, the more I realized the families have this notion. In fact, it is so emblazoned in people’s minds that they have to get an addict to admit that they have a problem, that many families won’t offer the addict treatment if they don’t admit that they got a problem. And I thought, this is crazy, this is inane because you’re trying to get an addict to confess to something to his family. I don’t understand what the upside is, and the family has this fantasy that the addict is going to fell between his legs and say, “Oh, you’re right. I really need help,” and a tear will softly fall, flow, down his cheek. I mean that is a friggin’ pipe dream. That is not how you get-

David Brower:              Well, that’s a bad movie, yeah.

Steve Bruno:                So I don’t write. So I started writing the book and this is in the chapter the confession, it’s sort of the thesis of why I started, was to help families simplify what they’re doing. Forget trying to get him to admit anything.

David Brower:              Yeah.

Steve Bruno:                He doesn’t need to admit anything. Addicts can go into treatments … I do want to say this while we’re we have some airtime.

David Brower:              Sure.

Steve Bruno:                That addicts, you do not need to get an addict to admit to anything in order for treatment to work. That is a myth. That whole notion of people going to treatment in denial all the time, and they do equally well, as anyone else who goes in. People go in with bells on, and their medication book, ready to go, and you think those are the ones that are going to succeed. Well, absolutely not. In fact, people who go in denial, once they come in for a landing and they look back on their life and they think to themselves, “Jesus, what was I doing?”

David Brower:              Yeah, who was that guy?

Steve Bruno:                They often have some of the best success stories.

David Brower:              It seems like the families are just making it about themselves because they don’t know what they don’t know.

Steve Bruno:                Well families are told this, and it’s actually told that you need to get an addict to admit it, and that the thing is, it comes from one of two places. One, therapists who write books about interventions.

David Brower:              Right.

Steve Bruno:                Therapists, by definition, are trained to help people face their problems and come to terms with them. But I am not a therapist, I’m an addict. I’m an ex-addict, so I don’t try to turn the intervention into therapy because I know better. You’re just going to have a bigger mess. It’s going to be unnecessarily counterproductive. The other thing is that someone may have misinterpreted the first steps of the 12 Steps. 12 Steps is arguably the most prolific program on the planet.

David Brower:              Yep.

Steve Bruno:                And the first step is we came to admit we were powerless over our addiction. And so someone may have read that and said, “Oh, well, then that means he needs to admit it to us, to his family.”

David Brower:              Sure. Sure.

Steve Bruno:                And it may have come from that, but an any event, I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but it’s an important point to make that the purpose of a … That any well done intervention has the same result, which the person arrives at the program, whether he’s in denial or not.

David Brower:              Folks, you got to get this book. I’m just saying. More Than Hope. The Intervention Guidebook. What Works. What Doesn’t. What To Do and How To Do It. We’ve been talking with Steve Bruno. He’s lived it, he knows it, he breathes it, and that’s how he helps people survive and get back to their families. And your success rate is through the top, right?

Steve Bruno:                Yeah. Last year I did 30 interventions, and 29 of them arrived.

David Brower:              Wow.

Steve Bruno:                Yeah, so about double the national average. I’m pretty proud of that.

David Brower:              Congratulations, man.

Steve Bruno:                Yeah, thank you.

David Brower:              And blessings to you for what you do, and how you do it, and continued success. It was a real privilege to talk to you.

Steve Bruno:                Oh, it was a pleasure, David. Thanks for having me on.

David Brower:              You bet.

Allan Blackwell:            Listen to Your 20 minute podcast with David Brower on the go. Downloads are available on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, iTunes, iHeartRadio, Spotify, any podcast app, and on our website at Until next time, thank you for listening.