Intervention A&E

A&E Hit TV Show on Intervention

A&E’s Emmy-Award winning series Intervention routinely warns its viewers about the disturbing content of its program, and it’s good thing that they do so. For the show provides viewers with a disturbing look at the depths to which addicts descend when doing battle against the demons that haunt them, not only in terms of the harm they do to their bodies or even the kind of degradation that becomes their own, but the misery and loneliness in which they suffer their quiet torment. It’s not a pretty picture. But these viewer advisories serve as much to titillate the audience as much as to warn them, for it’s the “drama” of this hidden side of addiction that sustains the program’s popularity, precisely because it promises to provide us with a portrait of lives that have fallen completely out of control.

If the producers were truly committed to the principle of disclosure, they’d include another warning at the beginning of each episode, as well. For the method of intervention employed by this series is but one among many, one that’s come under increasingly attack, and for good reasons, too: for its reliance upon unabashed methods of coercion and the mounting evidence that it may be less effective than we are so often lead to believe. There is another reason even more compelling to suspect the portrait of addiction provided by this program, and that has to do with the unspoken assumptions that frame the very idea of intervention itself: the idea that addiction is the disease rather than seeing it as a symptom of something else. Something much more insidious, precisely because it goes back further than our eyes can see.

Advocates have long worked to overcome the historical stigmas that have come to be attached to addicts and their addictions, stigmas that have undermined efforts to help addicts too frequently condemned for the cravings and compulsions that lay well beyond their control. And coming to an understanding of addiction-as-a-disease was crucial in that fight, for only then could the public come to understand that the addict cannot and should not be blamed. For blame interferes with efforts to treat the addict and the addiction; to shame an addict only avoids dealing with – much less seeking to understand – the compulsion that lies at the root of their afflictions.

But it may well be time to give up this notion, for in clinging to the idea of disease, advocates are in danger of losing sight of the contexts within which addictions are born, the environments within which those compulsions come to be. Which is where A&E’s series comes into the picture. For it says nothing about the well-established fact that the majority of addicts suffered some sort of abuse while they were young, with some studies putting the figures as high as ninety per cent. If this had truly become part of our public consciousness, the interventions that form the climax of each episode would take on a very different flavor: less convinced about an addict’s “denial” or “refusal” to seek treatment, and more humbled by the ways in which a hidden torment comes to eat at one’s very soul.

Meet Jim Reidy

Intervention Specialist Jim Reidy, who appeared on the most recent season of the long-running series, has done more than 350 interventions over the past seven years. He recently started bringing his skills to Northwest Indiana after hiring an intervention coordinator based in the Region. Reidy performed another intervention in Kouts, just a couple weeks later, for Jenny’s best friend.

intervention is “hands-down the most effective way to break through to the addict or alcoholic when the family has tried everything,” said the local coordinator, Herb Stepherson, of Valparaiso. “It emboldens the family to take things on as a team, head-on. And take charge.”

Philadelphia county suffers one of the highest rates of drug overdoses in the county.

See Jim Reidy at the epicenter of drug overdoses in Kensington at 20 second mark of video.

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