Meet the World's Most Famous Interventionist - Page 2

By Sacha Z. Scoblic 12/18/12

In her seven years on Intervention, Candy Finnigan has seen it all. In this exclusive interview, she explains how her own intervention brought her to where she is today.

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Why do so many people wait until they are in a deep crisis before doing an intervention?

Because they think, if they have an immense religious background or religious upbringing, that God will see them through. I'm going to be a little bit egotistical, but when somebody says to me, “I've been praying to God,” I go: “Here I am.” I always tell the story of the drowning man in the ocean, and God sends the steamer and then he sends the rowboat and then he sends the canoe and then he sends the kayak, and the man drowns. Then he gets up to God and says, “How come you didn’t save me God, I believed in you!” God says, “Who do you think sent all those boats?”

After all these years of the show, don’t a lot of the addicts know they're on Intervention

There have probably been 12 or 15 episodes in the last seven years that, when [the producers] found out that the person knew that she was on Intervention, the producers picked up and left.

Why is it so important that the addicts not know they are on Intervention?

Because that’d be like if I said, “Sacha, next Tuesday at 11, we’re going to hang you, and could you bring your own rope?”

Fortunately, the crew and the field directors are some of the most magnificent, caring, loving human beings I've ever met in my entire life, and this is their job—the empathy and the hard line of following a meth addict for 24 hours and always being able to discreetly be where they need to be. The only thing they’ve ever done that was maybe not “real” is, I think, they hid keys a couple of times from the people who were so drunk and they were going to drive. 

The whole world has respected this process. We’ve done 214 shows or something like that, and again between 76 percent and 78 percent are sober. 

I really had not started drinking alcoholically until after I had my daughter. I had no conceptual idea of how to take care of her. 

Are you concerned that addicts don’t have the mental fortitude to give consent to be filmed?

No, because the family is the one that contacts us. Addiction is a mental illness. I mean why else would you do something every single day to kill yourself? I don’t think you are in your right mind. 

This is too important. The epidemic that is going on in the United States of America right now that is not being talked about in the big world except by us in the field is prescription medicine. Somebody dies every 19 minutes of an overdose of prescription medication, and I just heard this statistic that 2,000 kids from the ages of 14 to 19—2,000 kids—use a prescription medication every single day for nonmedical use.

And they’re all so expensive. They're a dollar a milligram. You use three a day and that’s $240. You can get jacked on heroin for $60. We have all these heroin addicts now. That heroin comes from China and also comes from Afghanistan. Between the pharmaceutical companies and the Taliban, we’ve been supporting a whole lot of people. Bin Laden was a heroin addict. How else could you stay in one room for seven months?

How are the show’s treatment centers selected?

I’ve been instrumental in guiding them to great treatment centers. The treatment centers give scholarships; the show doesn’t pay for it. By using scholarships, the treatment centers sure try harder, I’ve found. That wasn’t really well-known; everybody thought that the show was paying for it. But, if the centers are taking on the responsibility, they’ve got to give good treatment. 99 percent of them have done just an exemplary job.  

What do you look for in a rehab facility? 

Programs that last for 90 days. They should also have a detox and a medical unit connected to the facility. There should be some type of psychological support, almost always 12-step support, and a family program. If they don’t have a family program, the Betty Ford Center has been incredibly generous by allowing the families to go through their family and children’s program. The children’s program is the greatest in the world. If somebody in an intervention won’t go to treatment, I still send the family there immediately. 

What was your own experience of addiction like?

I really had not started drinking alcoholically until after I had my daughter. I had no conceptual idea of how to take care of her. My daughter was the only baby I’d ever seen that was brand new. I was stunned. I remember going, “I don’t know if I can keep this child alive.” At night when she would finally go to sleep, I would start drinking. I would drink myself into, “Everything’s going to be okay.” Every night. 

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Sacha Z. Scoblic (Sacha Zimmerman) is the author of Unwasted and a Carter fellow for mental health journalism. She has written about Bob Forrest and the struggle for the new super painkiller, among other topics, for The Fix. You can find Sacha on Linkedin or follow her on Twitter.