Intervention (Courtesy Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Intervention is an American television reality show dealing with the struggles faced by many different kinds of addicts.

Each episode follows one or two participants, each of whom has a substance dependence or other mentally and/or physically damaging problem. The subjects believe they are being filmed for a documentary on their problem, but their situations are actually being documented in anticipation of an intervention by family and/or friends. During the intervention, each participant is given an ultimatum: go into rehabilitation immediately, or risk losing contact, income, or other privileges from the loved ones who instigated the intervention. Often, other tactics are used to persuade the addicted person into treatment, which vary depending on the situation; some of these include threats to invoke outstanding arrest warrants, applying for custody of the addict's children, foreclosing on the addict's property, and break-up of marriages or other relationships. The producers usually follow up months later to monitor the addicted person's progress and film it for "follow-up" episodes of the series or for shorter "web updates" available on the show's website.

Show description

The addicts featured on the show are offered a chance to undergo a 90-day, all-expenses-paid treatment plan at one of a number of rehabilitation facilities. As in real life, not all interventions depicted in the episodes end well. Several addicts have walked out of the intervention, though almost all who initially balk at the offer eventually accept it. As of 2012, only four addicts "? Alissa in Season 1, Marquel in Season 8, Adam in Season 9, and Larry in Season 11 - have completely refused all offers of treatment. A fifth, Sean (Season 12), agreed to go to treatment but backed out during the drive to the facility. A number of addicts who initially agree to get treatment have left treatment early due to rule violations, behavior problems, or a general desire not to be in attendance any more. Some addicts who leave early go to prison or enter another facility to continue treatment; others never return to complete the rehabilitation process, and the majority of those cases relapse and return to their former addictive habits.

As of 2012, four addicts profiled on the show later died of complications directly related to their addiction"?Dillon from Season 3 (methamphetamine; committed suicide during a standoff with the police ); Lawrence from Season 4 (alcoholic; bled to death from ruptured esophageal varices); Chris from Season 6 (alcoholic; committed suicide after relapsing); and Bret from Season 7 (alcoholic; diagnosed with Stage IV esophageal cancer 80 days into rehab, died 3 weeks later). Sandy, a Season 6 addict (alcohol/prescription drug abuse), completed treatment in 2009 and died in 2011. Austin, a season 10 addict (alcohol), completed treatment in 2010 and died of a presumed heroin overdose in 2011. Mike, a season 5 OCD germophobe, was revealed in a follow-up airing of his episode to have died in September 2011 of unspecified causes.

Occasionally, during the filming of an episode, the plight of another addict in the featured addict's circle becomes apparent, and the show often makes additional plans to help the other addict find treatment as well. These secondary interventions, like the primary ones, have a mixed track record of success and failure. Additionally, the secondary addict sometimes promises to seek treatment in order to get the primary addict to agree to the show's treatment offer, only to back out of their promise once the primary addict heads off for treatment (example: Paul, stepfather of OxyContin addict Ryan from Season 3, tells Ryan that he intends to seek help for his drinking problem, but later backs out of going to rehab himself, though he does quit drinking on his own).

In situations where the family/friends/other members of the addict's circle have become co-dependents or are otherwise traumatized by the addict's behavior, the interventionist usually recommends that the entire family seek counseling to enable them to move on with their own lives. This has led to some very happy family reunions (Coley, a serious meth addict, got clean while his family went through counseling, and his marriage to wife Francine was saved by the intervention), but has also led to complete dissolution of relationships (Leslie, a suburban housewife alcoholic, went through court-ordered rehab while her family received counseling at the Betty Ford Clinic; after both treatment programs ended, Leslie and her husband finalized their divorce). Some families will promise to attend counseling for their co-dependence in order to convince the addict to agree to the treatment plan, only to break that promise after the addict leaves for the treatment facility (example: Bulimic alcoholic Amber from Season 9 agrees to go to rehab only if her entire family signs a contract to attend the Betty Ford Clinic's family counseling program; though everyone signs the contract in her presence, none of them followed through once she headed off to the treatment center).

Each episode ends with a series of white screens (black in earlier seasons), upon which appear a short narrative discussing the addicts and their progress since the intervention (including a sobriety date, if known), followed by a screen that invites viewers to find out more information on addiction and recovery at the show's official website. The white screens are updated with new information each time the show is re-aired on A&E, and some video updates are made available on the show's website. Occasionally, a white screen update documents an outreach to the addict from fans of the series. The black screen update for drug addicted siblings Brooks and Ian's follow-up episode that re-aired in early 2008 indicated that Brooks had met and married a fan of the show in 2007. At the end of the original episode featuring alcoholic banker and bar brawler Jacob, he stated that he was planning to enroll in college for the upcoming semester; the black screen update for his episode that re-aired in early 2008 indicated that a fan of the series had contacted the producers after the show's airing and offered to pay for Jacob's college education.

An occasional complication arises when the addict becomes suspicious that he/she is being set up for an intervention, having watched the show before, or recognizes one of the featured interventionists on sight upon being brought into the final meeting place.

In conjunction with interventions that involve strong drug addictions where sudden withdrawal can be dangerous, a nurse travels with the addict to the rehab center, providing medical assistance to keep the addict from suffering during the journey. Patients with addictions that could cause serious risk to their health upon cessation of the substance abuse usually spend time in a detox facility before entering the rehab phase of their recovery.


The "cast" for each episode is primarily the addict and their family members, circle of friends and others. The only regular cast member in each episode is the interventionist, whose job it is to conduct the intervention. The show originally featured three regular specialists:

  • Ken Seeley: A former meth addict who founded Intervention-911, a service specializing not just in interventions but also in finding appropriate treatment centers for each kind of addict.
  • Jeff VanVonderen: A former pastor and former alcoholic who became a full-time interventionist to help families through their moral and social issues involved with addiction.
  • Candy Finnigan: A former alcoholic who became an interventionist to help families work through their issues and problems; she specializes in counseling female addicts, especially addicted mothers.
Two new regulars joined the cast for Season 10:

  • John Southworth: Founder of Southworth Associates, LLC, an Idaho-based intervention/counseling service. He was the interventionist for Jason, a heroin addict, in episode 123, and is one of two new regular interventionists in the tenth season.
  • Rod Espudo: An interventionist of over 20 years, and one of two new regular interventionists in the tenth season.
  • Donna Chavous: A former addict who became an interventionist and sober coach, joined the cast in Season 11.
  • Seth Jaffe: A former heroin addict, was a sober coach on the spinoff series RELAPSE (also on A&E) and joined the cast in Season 12.
Occasionally, other therapists have made appearances to offset the workload among the regulars:

  • Tara Fields, PhD, M.F.T.: Also a licensed marriage and family therapist. In Season 1 she was the interventionist for Vanessa (episode 1), Christine (episode 9) and in Season 2 for Howard (episode 16), Heidi (episode 18) and Gina (episode 25).
  • Jenn Berman, PsyD: A Beverly Hills-based psychotherapist who made a single appearance in Episode 22. She was the interventionist for Annie, who had an eating disorder.
  • Lee FitzGerald: A staff member at Promises Treatment Centers. She was the interventionist for John in episode 122.
Jeff VanVonderen took an extended leave of absence in Season 5 after admitting during the special episode "Intervention: After-Treatment Special" that he relapsed with alcohol, but returned for Season 6 and remains with the series.

Ken Seeley left the series after completing the intervention for Linda in Season 8 to focus on his personal intervention service, Intervention-911. He returned to conduct the intervention for Al, a crystal meth/painkiller/marijuana addict, in Season 13.

Celebrity subjects

Most episodes feature "everyday" people struggling with their addictions, but entertainment professionals have also been featured.

Season 1

  • Vanessa Marquez, a supporting actress on the first three seasons of ER, appeared in episode 2 due to a compulsive shopping disorder.
  • Travis Meeks, lead singer of the Alternative rock band Days of the New, appeared in episode 6, focusing on his methamphetamine addiction.
Season 2

  • Antwahn Nance, a 6'10" former NBA power forward for the LA Clippers, was featured in episode 4, as he ended up homeless due to his crack cocaine addiction.
  • Chuckie Negron, the son of Three Dog Night vocalist Chuck Negron, was featured in episode 6, as he battled heroin addiction.
Season 4

  • Tressa Thompson, a women's shot put champion, was featured in episode 7, as her Olympic dreams were crushed by her methamphetamine drug abuse.
Season 5

  • Chad Gerlach, a member of the Postal Service Pro Cycling Team featured in episode 1, ended up living on the streets and smoking crack cocaine after his dismissal from the team.
Season 7

  • Aaron Brink, aka Dick Delaware, a porn star and once moderately successful mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter, featured in episode 8, lost both careers due to his methamphetamine addiction.
  • Rocky Lockridge, a two-time Super Featherweight boxing champion, was featured in episode 113, due to his homelessness and drug addiction.
  • Robby Pardlo, formerly of City High, was featured in episode 9, battling his alcoholism.
Season 8

  • Linda Li, an actress who played a Taresian woman in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Favorite Son" as well as appearing as an extra in over 200 TV shows and movies, was featured in episode 1, battles an addiction to Actiq (transmucosal Fentanyl lozenge on a stick, a.k.a. "perc-a-pop").
Season 9

  • Lorna Dune, a Soul Train dancer who worked her way up to an A&R position at A&M Records, was shown in Season 9 battling a crack cocaine addiction.


Addictions covered by the show have included:

  • alcoholism
  • anorexia nervosa
  • bulimia nervosa
  • compulsive shopping
  • compulsive exercise
  • drug addiction, both legal (over-the-counter medication, prescription drugs) and illegal (heroin, meth, crack, cocaine)
  • food addiction
  • inhalants addiction
  • gambling addiction
  • plastic surgery addiction
  • rage addiction
  • self-injury
  • sexual addiction
  • video game addiction
  • Comorbid health problems that can exacerbate an addiction, such as diabetes
  • psychological issues that can exacerbate an addiction, such as bipolar disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder


Main article: List of Intervention episodes


  • 2009 Emmy award for Outstanding Reality Program


Matthew Gilbert (The Boston Globe), a critic of the show, argues that the program is exploitative and showcases individuals as they self-destruct. He also argues that the confrontation within the intervention is milked to show only the most dramatic moments and that the final results of the intervention and subsequent rehabilitation is glossed-over.

Melanie McFarland, another television critic, also laments that the show does little to educate on successful intervention and instead deceives the subjects of each episode in order to film them at their lowest point.


On September 9, 2011, Intervention Canada debuted on Slice Network.

On December 28, 2012, Teen Trouble debuted on Lifetime which is executive produced by Bryn Freedman a former Intervention producer.

In popular culture

, the edgy humor video site has featured two parodies of Intervention. One of the first Intervention parodies to appear anywhere, Kristin Chenoweth's short "Intervention with Kristin Chenoweth", was released August 27, 2008. The video features Chenoweth giving a gay crystal meth addict a cheerful Broadway-style singing intervention. More recently, in April 2011, another Intervention satire debuted on the site, this one entitled "Intervention Intervention", featuring Fred Armisen playing a man addicted to the television show Intervention.

Toronto-based television station CFTO-TV created a series of spoofs in early 2009 starring local weather personality Dave Devall. Devall would act as an "assistant" to families needing "winterventions" for family members ill-dressed for Canadian winters as part of advertising for that station's news shows. These commercials aired almost a year before the first A&E-produced episodes of Intervention that were shot in Canada and featured Canadian addicts debuted on Canadian Television.

On April 16, 2010, a video entitled "Best Cry Ever" was posted on the popular video-sharing site YouTube, featuring a clip from Season 7 episode "Rocky", which told the story of former professional boxer Rocky Lockridge, who lost everything, including contact with his sons, to drugs. The clip centers around a dramatic scene in which Rocky is seen crying amongst his relatives. , the original video has attained over 36 million views and has become an Internet phenomenon. A Saturday Night Live sketch featured an Intervention parody with guest host Jon Hamm crying in a similar fashion. The season 3 premiere episode of The Cleveland Show also parodies "Best Cry Ever", when Cleveland breaks down after his old friend Peter confesses that he still cares for him; this gets the attention of Cleveland's friends and the Evil Monkey.

The April 28, 2010 episode of the TV series South Park parodied the show by doing an Intervention-style documentary on character Towlie in the episode Crippled Summer. The episode includes on-screen text blocks to provide subtext or details, and culminates in a scene where the boys confront Towlie about his drug addiction. The counselor insists, as the real-life interventionists often do, that all parties be allowed to "say whatever they need to say" to one another during the course of the actual intervention, which leads to Cartman endlessly harassing Kyle with insults and racial/ethnic/religious slurs.

A season 3 episode of the HBO television show True Blood contains a segment with Hoyt's mother attempting to intervene in Hoyt's relationship with newborn vampire Jessica. Hoyt's mother turns up at his workplace with Summer in tow (whom she believes Hoyt should be dating instead of a newborn vamp), along with the local school's guidance counselor. Hoyt says he has work to do and doesn't have time to talk, but the guidance counselor, acting as the "interventionist", stops Hoyt from leaving, parodying Jeff VanVonderen's traditional intervention opening lines ("I'm here for these folks who really love you like crazy, and want you to hear them out, and then you can say what you want to say"). The characters then read their letters out loud, all of which open with "Dear Hoyt" (similar to letters the families normally write to their loved ones as part of the interventions depicted in Intervention).

In the 30 Rock episode "Queen of Jordan", which subtly parodies several reality TV shows, Jenna tries to get more screen time for herself on Angie's reality show by convincing Pete to stage an intervention for her alcoholism, even though she is not an alcoholic. Pete tries to teach her a lesson by actually arranging for her to be sent to rehab; knowing she won't be featured on camera if she is away from the show, Jenna knocks her designated escort unconscious and escapes back to Angie's party.

In a skit from an episode of Tosh.0 that first aired October 18, 2011, host Daniel Tosh turns his normal "Web Redemption" segment (where a person or group who appeared in a notorious or embarrassing online video are given a chance to explain themselves via interview/event recreation) into an "intervention" for a Wisconsin man named Tim, whose videotaped trip on shrooms turned into a YouTube sensation. Tosh reveals the redemption segment is really an "intervention" about 2/3 of the way through when he lures Tim into leaving the room with him on the pretense of going to see "a Lady Antebellum laser light show"; when they open the door to leave the interview room, Tim discovers they are in a small hotel conference room, in which Tim's "family and friends" are gathered all around. Tosh uses Jeff VanVonderen's trademark intro ("These people love you like crazy...") and introduces Tim's mom and dad, some other people "who are probably early for the next intervention", and a clown who's "addicted to smiles" that Tosh invited because "these things are always so depressing." Tim's father starts off the family portion of the intervention by reading his own letter; it begins with "we're here because we wanted a free trip to L.A." The interventionist quickly determines that Tim hasn't yet hit rock bottom and rescinds the offer of rehab until he does. Tosh and Tim are shown next attending a drug party, where they re-enact many of the crazy things Tim said and did in his notorious YouTube video, and a black screen with white text reveals that two minutes have passed since they began their drug party. As Tosh decides that Tim has now hit rock bottom (since they find the dead body of the clown from the intervention beside their hotel bed), they head off together to the rehab center. But when "Amy Winehouse" answers the door at the "rehab center", the pair realize they must have overdosed (a subtle satire on one of Ken Seeley's assertions during Pre-Intervention talks, when he stresses that some addicts don't hit rock bottom until they're dead). As they enter Heaven, the screen fades to white, where black text (instead of the usual fade-to-black with white text summarizing the addict's time in treatment) says simply that "Six months later, they are still happily dead."

In Millionaires 2012 single "Drinks On Me", the show is referenced in the line "This ain't no A&E, you won't see me on Intervention."

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