Sunday, September 14, 2008
For a couple of years, I have been watching this incredible television series on A&E called Intervention. I find it fascinating to watch humans go through some sort of addiction and watch how it controls their lives, why it begins, triggers to the disease, how they cope with it, how family members and friends handle it, who allows it to happen, and who ends up overcoming the disease.
Watch the show on Mondays at 1PM, 9PM, 10PM, 12AM, and 1AM. The show has five seasons so far and 71 episodes.
I always have been fascinated with the human mind and how it works; this show really gets into specific case studies that focuses on addictions. I have learned so many things on different drugs and other addictions that I would not known before because I have never encountered anyone I know that has been hooked on that substance.
Yesterday, I watched an Intervention special that showed a few recovered addicts from the show who wanted to talk about life after their intervention. One of the interventionists, Jeff VanVonderen, told some amazing statistics from the show:
There have been roughly 98 people on the show.
Only 2 did not attend their intervention.
71 successfully recovered from their addiction.
What really interests me in addition is the interventionists themselves. Normally, people who get involved in something (like helping addicts and addiction) have experienced it firsthand, either being the addict themselves or having a close friend or family member affected by it. I learned their background stories last night in the special.
Jeff VanVonderen was hooked on multiple drugs during the 1960s. He used illicit drugs but was mainly hooked on alcohol. He cleaned himself up and became a pastor, then interventionist when a friend needed his help. He has been working with interventions ever since. Although, six months before the special, Jeff relapsed and is currently going through therapy. He is taking a leave of absense until he is fully recovered. Interesting, huh?
Candy Finnigan, my personal favorite, also was an alcoholic who never thought she would be where she is today. In recovery, she knew she needed to focus her mind on something external, so she turned to helping others with addiction. She now specializes in helping women cope with overcoming addictions.
Ken Seeley was a former meth addict who hit rock bottom and faced an intervention the same way addicts on the show face them. He has now founded Intervention-911, a service specializing not just in interventions but in also finding appropriate treatment centers for each kind of addict.
I admire these people. I wish I could be intelligent enough to hold a job that is so rewarding and difficult as theirs.
I have watched so many episodes, many that deeply effected me or left me feeling a bit off because the material was so disturbing. I either felt horrible for the addict, the family, or the endless situation of addiction. Sometimes your heart just goes out for the addict who turned to a drug or addiciton because of some traumatizing event from the past or present. It's also insane how out of control the drug addiction can get, spiraling into a bigger and bigger problem over a short period of time.
The most disturbing episode I saw was a girl named Allison who was in season five, episode 68. She was addicted to inhalents, specifically inhaling a computer cleaner in a spray bottle. She would go to the electronics store every day and would pick up a dozen bottles and inhale them in a day. It was incredible to hear her talk about how nervous she was to buy them because the same cashier checks her out every day. What must she think of her? But, it's not illegal. So nothing ever happened.
I just couldn't imagine how this brilliant pre-med student now was inhaling computer cleaner, shooting sprays into her mouth, and then becoming incomprehensible and falling over when the camera was interviewing her. I had never seen anyone so out of control, so mentally damaged by a substance. It was horrifying. She even ingested it when her mother and sister came over to talk to her. I can't believe that something like that would become so normal that you would let it happen. She's shooting a spray into her mouth for Christ's sake!
She had a very difficult time going to her intervention. She refused to be at the meeting and left home, even when her sister pleaded with her. They had to call the cops who hoisted her to a hospital. The hospital soon let her off saying that she was mentally sound. She did voluntarily go to her intervention the following day though.
It's so insane to see the constant triggers of addictions: divorce, sexual abuse, neglect, loneliness, lost talent, boredom, low self-esteem, physical handicaps, or just nothing at all happening in the addict's life. It's good to see the triggers or catalysts because then maybe others can help stop it from starting or getting too out of control.
Addictions covered in the show include drug addiction (meth, alcohol, cocaine, heroin, over-the-counter drugs, prescription drugs, crack), sex addiction, compulsive shopping, eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia), gambling, plastic surgery, self-infliction, video games, rage, and food addictions.
This show is incredible though because it has touched the lives of so many people, changed their lives, and exposes the harsh realities of addiction. It educates people on the topic and helps them understand addiction, how to cope with it, and how to get over it. A lot of reality TV shows are just garbage, but this is educational and helpful. It changes peoples lives for the better. It's a great service to the public.
What do you think of the show Intervention? Favorite/least favorite episode/addict?