Intervention (now in its eighth season) is an Emmy Award winning documentary series that documents the stories of various breeds of addicts. Each episode sees its subject face an intervention. From drug abuse, shopping addictions, eating disorders and even rageaholism, Intervention shows many unique stories that are interesting and often heartbreaking.
Alyson: Once a Whitehouse intern and star pupil, Alyson met a bad boy at college and was introduced to the world of drugs. She does multiple sorts of drugs and even steals painkillers from her father who suffers from life-threatening aneurysms.
Gabe & Vanessa: Gabe, another whiz kid who graduated from college at a very young age, goes on to develop a gambling problem so big that he is $200,000 in debt.
Vanessa: Once a regular on E.R (for the first three seasons), she is now a virtual recluse with a shopping addiction, depression and an anxiety disorder.
Tamela & Jerrie: Tamela is a 24 year old artist who regularly cuts herself. She was molested as a child and her family want her to learn to love herself and to deal with the pain that causes her to disfigure herself.
Jerrie: Once a social worker, Jerrie now suffers from an addiction to pain killers.
Alissa & Brian: Alissa was in a car accident and had to have facial reconstruction, as a result of her depression she has a gambling addiction and is addicted to 25c slot machines.
Brian: Adopted at 9 months old, Brian has always had abandonment issues and copes with this by smoking crystal meth and having (gay) promiscuous sex. He has had around 500 partners and has only used a condom twice. He favours phone-lines where he can meet men and indulge in one night stands.
Sara: Once married with a child, Sara ended up with a divorce and turned to crystal meth to deal with the pain. She lost custody of her daughter, has been arrested, and has stolen, forged and lied all to get a fix.
Matt & Travis: Matt is addicted to crack cocaine and steals from his parents to fund his lifestyle. He had two front teeth knocked out as a result of a bad drug deal.
Travis: Former rock star/singer/guitar player and writer for his band Days of the New, Travis is now a full-blown meth addict.
Peter & Renee: After his parents divorced, Peter became addicted to videogames, nowadays he is so obsessed with them that he talks like characters and gets into manic stages when he is playing them.
Renee: has an eating disorder where she binges and purges. To stop her from vomiting and putting on weight, she takes water pills and laxatives.
Tina: Tina is a mother who struggles with an addiction to prescription pills and gambling. She spends her husbands money, pawns her jewellery and takes her child to the race tracks; her husband Harley is at his ends and decides to have an intervention to save their marriage and her life.
Cristine & Kelly P: Cristine is a mother, a wife and works. She also drinks a lot of beer. So much beer that she is failing at her job, is constantly sick and has to start the day with a drink. Her family is living on the floor of her mother’s apartment and her family want her to address her past issues which include molestation by the hands of her own father.
Kelly P: Kelly is a real estate agent by day and a DJ by night. She comes from a food focused Italian family and is extremely obsessive about her weight. She weighs 93 pounds and virtually does not eat. The problem really escalates when her six year old daughter starts to emulate her attitudes towards food.
Kelly F. & Mark: Kelly has a genius-level IQ but has chosen to be an alcoholic. He doesn’t harm anyone except himself and he loves what he does, but his parents don’t like his lifestyle and trick him into an intervention on the premise that he will get his dog back.
Mark: Mark had a morphine pump implanted due to pain from back injuries. His wife is dying of cancer and left him due to his drug addiction and his family force an intervention to stop him from spiraling further into addiction.
Rachael and Tommy: Rachael is a heroin addict and to fund her lifestyle she prostitutes herself.
Tommy: Tommy’s drug of choice is cocaine and it costs him everything he owns and his job.
Michael & Brooks: According to friends and family Michael had great potential, but now spends his days trying to get high.
Brooks: Brooks was in an ATV accident and lost the use of his legs. A former wrestler, he is now a drug addict who was given 1 million dollars for his accident.
Corrine: Sexually abused by her babysitter at age 14, Corrine was once a star pupil who excelled in everything from sports to music. Corrine is addicted to both crystal meth and heroin, and suffers from diabetes which she often neglects to take care of because she is so high.
Howard and Audrey: Howard is a driving instructor to government agencies and celebrities but is an alcoholic with a failing liver.
Audrey: Audrey comes from a Christian family who did not approve of her being a lesbian, she turns to heroin and has been addicted for five years.
Adam & Michael Adam: After a break up with his girlfriend Adam turned to drugs to cope.
Michael: Michael suffers from extreme bouts of rage and numbs this by using drugs. When he doesn’t have drugs in his system he becomes aggressive and abuses his family physically and mentally.
Michelle & Heidi: After accounts of sexual abuse and the death of her father, Michelle, a once bright happy girl turns to shooting up meth to deal with her problems.
Heidi: Heidi was raped while walking home from a party with her boyfriend. Years of not dealing with the situation have spiraled into a shopping and plastic surgery addiction that has left her stealing from her own mother.
Follow-Up Special: This episode only focuses on Alyson, Matt, Sara and Gabe and has slightly extended scenes from the original episodes.
The show isn’t about drama and treats its subjects fairly; it is in no way exploitative and it always retains its documentary feel and never becomes a voyeuristic shock-the-audience fest. My only criticism is that the show spends too much time on the negatives of addiction and only spends about 5-10 minutes on the recovery, it almost makes recovery look as easy as getting on a plane, entering a building and coming out better. It would have been interesting to hear the addicts speak more about their experiences of withdrawing and getting help.
Of course you have your odd drama-queen, the gay misunderstood addict and a whole bunch of other stereotypes, but I was really appreciative that this program did not only focus on drug and alcohol related disorders. I find addictions such as video gaming and shopping more interesting than drug addiction, and I am hoping that as the series progresses that there’s more addictions included.
This set compiles episodes from season one and two that screened in the US but have been released as season one here in Australasia. A solid release for those interested in reality shows of this manner.
Available on R4 DVD from Magna Home Entertainment.