“Addicted” on TLC Wednesday Night

Posted on March 16, 2010. Filed under: addiction, Addiction Resources/Support, AlAnon, Intervention, Parent of an Addict, Treatment Centers | Tags: , , |

Watch this new series, Addicted, on Wednesday evenings @ 10:00 pm –   (check your local listings) on the TLC channel.

Last June, when I first learned that my 30 year old daughter, Hayley, was living in a crack house and smoking crack/using cocaine, I spun in to action with my supermom cape on.  Go to my blog entry Graduation, for a little context.

During that frantic, intense time of locating the crack house, trying to communicate with my daughter to encourage her to come home, investigating treatment centers/options, local addiction resources, talking with Hayley’s Probation Officer, the police, mental health care professionals, etc., I also read the book, The Lost Years, Surviving a mother and daughter’s worst nightmare, by Kristina Wandzilak and Constance Curry.  This book had been given to me months before by a dear friend/avid reader.  She wondered if I might find it interesting.

The book was stunning – full of unpleasant, but interesting information about crack and addiction and, of course, an up close and personal look at the tangled and complex mother/daughter relationship.  Here’s a quick summary of the book:

“A child caught in the depravity of alcohol and drug addiction; a mother helplessly standing by unable to save her.  The Lost Years is the real life story of just such a mother and child, each giving their first hand accounts of the years lost to addiction and despair. Both mother and daughter are now in recovery – the mother from co-dependency and the ravaging effects of an addicted loved one; and the daughter, Kristina, from her alcohol and cocaine addictions”.

Kristina, the adolescent/young adult addict in this book, is now a nationally acclaimed speaker on addiction and is a professional addiction interventionist.  Visit her website at:  www.fullcircleintervention.com

I was so moved by this book – and so desperate for help, that I visited Kristina’s website and left a personal message on her “contact me” tab.  I was stunned to receive a phone call from her the next day.  She lives and works in San Francisco.  I gave her a brief overview of Hayley’s situation – that I had just learned she was living in a crack house and smoking crack/using cocaine – and that I was exploring the possibility of an intervention.  Kristina was empathetic, helpful, and supportive.  When I mentioned how ironic it was that one of Hayley’s favorite TV programs was Intervention, Kristina was intrigued, and told me about her new, upcoming TV show, “Addicted”. She was looking for families willing to be filmed through the intervention process – that they would be compensated after filming with an all-expense paid treatment program for the addict featured.  She thought that Hayley might be receptive to such a proposal, especially with her substance use history and fascination/obsession with the program, Intervention.

WOW!  This possibility sounded enticing – and was the first shred of hope that had crossed my path, in a very long time. My daughter is very dramatic – and seems to crave the spotlight.  Being the star of her own drug addiction intervention and treatment program might just appeal to her.  And, if that is what gets her closer to recovery – why not?

When I discussed all of this with my therapist – and at Al-Anon meetings – the responses were the same. If Hayley were to submit to a treatment program as a result of the very commercial/public venue of a nationally syndicated  television program, she would not be entering rehab for the “right” reasons, which would most likely end in failure. Also, there was the “sticky wicket” of getting my family members to agree to be filmed and exposed very publicly ( to millions of viewers).  I didn’t think I could get the ‘key family players’ to agree to that. So, ultimately, I phoned Kristina back and said thanks, but no thanks.

I’ve wondered since if this was the ‘right’ thing to do.  And one family member posed the burning question:  Well, if being filmed and on TV is what it takes to get Hayley to treatment, then why not try it?

What are your thoughts on intervention?

Because an intervention would logistically be almost impossible with Hayley (in a crack house, no way to reliably communicate with her, get her to show up somewhere, the time/dollar expense of flying in family members from California, working around Hayley’s ‘fixes’ and physical needs, etc. ) – – – all of these factors seemed overwhelming and impossible to coordinate for some kind of group intervention.  Today, it still seems impossible to arrange.

However – my current mantra is to remain open to any and all options.  And after visiting Kristina’s web site regarding her professional approach to intervention, I still wonder.

Below, interventionist Kristina Wandzilak, C.A.S, BRI-II, Executive Director and the founder of Full Circle Intervention, co-author of the riveting memoir, The Lost Years, shares her thoughts on addiction, intervention, and recovery:

When most people think of intervention, they tend to think of an addict walking into a situation that he or she knows nothing about. I’ve been a maverick in the field of intervention for 14 years, throwing out the old idea that intervention needs to be addict-focused and secretive.

I don’t do surprise interventions. I don’t ambush or plan any sort of attack or confrontation. The addicted person is informed about the family intervention, but with or without them, I move forward with the intervention. The skill of a great interventionist is to find the crack in a very well-defended disease — to find a connection with the addicted person who, underneath it all, is hurting, ashamed and terrified. I believe, and always have, that the best way to create a connection is to be honest and direct, not to ambush someone. I refused to build an intervention practice based on deceit. See the complete article.

The memoir, The Lost Years, was helpful to me by giving an honest, disturbing look in to the underworld of cocaine and crack, ending  with its message of hope and recovery.  I tucked this book in to the bottom of my daughter’s suitcase when I helped her pack for medical detox in August 2009.  Four days later, she walked out of detox, AMA (against medical advice), and back to her life of addiction.  Has she ever looked at or read the book?  I don’t know.

So – tune in to Kristina’s new program on TLC, Addicted, 10:00 pm on Wednesday nights – and, let’s chat about all of it – does intervention work? When/where should intervention be considered?  What are the statistics regarding the success of intervention and recovery, yadayadayada.


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13 Responses to ““Addicted” on TLC Wednesday Night”

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Haven’t seen the show yet. I do know the sensitivity about exposure. I am see it in a different light now, but first off; the choice is the addicts and of course the family members. I went public in my town in a local paper and regret parts of what I said, simply because I didn’t fully think out who I was exposing besides myself. Sometimes, I think with some families, addiction is almost child rape in terms of stigma. People just don’t want to acknowledge what statistics show otherwise. I say; the more we talk the better. You need to know the problem before you can fix it. Given the immensity of failure addicts suffer, I certainly would give minimal credence to naysayers, second guessing why an addict should not to go public with their intervention. Having seen the damage done and the sheer amount of relapse out there; try anything! In the end it is always up to the addict. As for the quality of the show; what do you think? Should we tune in? I wish your daughter success. What more of a gift can she give herself right now other than the give of sobriety and a power greater than herself. I say the same for my son and daughter and all of yours. This problem is too big to fit in the closet anymore. It speaks of something that might even be bigger that America is willing to talk about. While, we eat ourselves to death, sporting 23 million diabetics, Substance abusers still out number them. There are some overlaps, like my own kid, but that is a lot of sick people! While the DEA announces new bold strategies for 2010 of countering the 423 billion business in illegal drug trafficking business; the damage substance abusers do right here at home is actually a little bigger number. A big chunk goes to the DEA. When asked what they know about the problem at home, their response was: We don’t know about those things; its not our job…so it goes on and on and on (maybe a whole other topic) Keep talking about it. Someday, we’ll look back and figure it was something very simple that was missing; like love and respect. I like your site.

Missed the show. It was not on in my area. Hope to check it out next week if it is going to be a weekly thing. I would like to see a show more about not the intervention but the recovery portion and how the addict struggles with recovery every day.
My daughter asked for help and has been clean since 1/1 of this year. She is doing IOP and she is also doing her N/A meetings but every day is a challenge for her and our family. I really don’t know if what I am doing with her is what is right but she is healing and we are standing behind her right now. She has bills she and her boyfriend ran up on her credit card which is maxed out. I refused to pay it. She will have to figure that one out.
I am hoping Hayley will see the light soon.

Peggy, I would do absolutely anything to save one of my children. And I’ve had to prove it again and again over the last few years between my drug-addicted daughter and my other daughter who was in a serious car accident in 2005. That being said,
the financial reality of dealing with an addict has certainly impacted us. As I write this, I am holding my breath, praying my daughter will stay clean this time. She is 6 weeks sober, which is a record since she replaced amphetamines with heroin almost two years ago. She moved out of my house two weeks ago and is living with her boyfriend, who is anti-drugs. While he has been an enabler in the past, her boyfriend has told her that if she uses again, she’ll have to leave. He tends to retreat into denial, so time will tell. I do know she’s struggling with her demons, but she’s trying to make it. And, of course, suboxone is her lifeline.
I mention the financial impact for several reasons relative to this post. Should she fall back into her addiction (and, yes, I know what the odds are), I’ll have to point her toward city/state resources…which are very limited in post-Katrina New Orleans and surrounding areas. She’s 25 years old and very resistant to further rehab and AA/NA, so it’s unlikely she’d take that initiative – and the waiting lists are weeks, if not months. Honestly, I think it’s criminal that we can’t force addicts to be locked up for 6 months for ongoing treatment, but that’s another discussion.
When I had to rush her to the hospital in Feb. (she was detoxing, took seroquel and couldn’t stand), I begged the doctor to put her in the psych ward for a couple of days. She was certainly acting up like she was crazy, screaming, etc., and I know she is clinically depressed when clean…but no amount of begging would convince them to lock up my drug addict. And I guess I understand how futile it is to try to straighten out an addict’s psych meds when opiate use pretty much knocks the hell out of brain chemistry for months, if not years.
OK, here’s the petty part…and I’m not proud of my feelings about this. She thinks I overreacted when I took her to the ER, so she refuses to take any responsibility for the bill. It’s in her name, and I could just let the collection agency go after her, but I’m weak, enabling and feel so damn grateful that she’s still breathing (and acting like she loves me again) that I’ll probably end up paying it. And I don’t know if I’m angrier at her or myself.
I so appreciate previous comments by Dawn where she’s talked about the need to let go, to give up on the addict. But, we’re all at different points on this unpleasant (and involuntary) journey. I have no idea where I’ll be next week.
I just know that I’m so grateful my daughter has made it through another day, and I’ve got all my fingers and toes crossed that maybe this time….
(And I’m wondering if all this worrying is making my hair fall out?!!)
Hugs to all. We deserve it.

Hi, Gal. Thanks for all of this. I’m so glad for you that your daughter is sober/clean right now and has a few weeks under her belt. I think that this time of recovery must be so stressful for the hopeful parent watching – trying not to panic, holding one’s breath, keeping boundaries, etc. I’m not sure I’ll ever be there with my daughter – and even though I pray for her recovery, I almost dread it when/if it happens. The stats are not good – and the volatility, chaos, see/saw of emotions will most likely kick in again. Right now, while she’s using and not living with me, I’m spared of all that draining drama.

I have almost 6 years of bills from my daughter’s past – collection agencies, bank statements, medical/hospital bills, etc. My ex-husband is a doctor who practiced here in town for 34 years (he has now moved to Santa Barbara). I ended up giving him all the medical bills, since his name/professional colleagueship was at stake. I don’t think he paid any of them – – – he’s paid tens of thousands of dollars over the years to bail out Hayley. He’s had it.

Is this ER bill the only one your daughter has? Could you talk to your daughter about going to the hospital and working out some kind of payment plan? You could buy time for yourself to make a decision about this by paying a minimum payment, I guess. And, make sure that you get your daughter’s address changed at the hospital, so she starts to receive these bills.

I know, I know. The stress of all that my daughter faces when/if she ever decides to “come out”, is overwhelming to me, let alone to her. I worry that there are so many bills waiting for her, it’s one of the reasons she’s using. And, you’re probably wondering if the stress of an outstanding bill for your daughter could send her over the edge again, or ruin her credit rating so she couldn’t rent a place of her own, get a job, etc. The domino effect is unending.

It’s a difficult line. These addicts are so fragile to begin with, that it sometimes makes sense to give them a break, especially if they’re clean and trying. But how/when that ‘help’ crosses the line over to ‘enabling’, is fuzzy. My daughter went to the ER last summer and the bill came here, addressed to her. $950 in tests to learn she was constipated. They gave her a stool softener and laxative. I just received a letter from that hospital, saying she could be interviewed for their charity program – but, of course, she’d have to go in to their office, etc. She’s holed up in a drug house, ashamed and afraid to come out – how would she ever be able to meet with someone about an ER bill? They’ll turn the bill over to a collection agency if they don’t hear from her. What do I do with all of this? Similar predicament to yours, except that Hayley has 6 years of unpaid bills, collection agencies, horrible/nonexistent credit, etc. I guess in her case, one more bill won’t matter – though, it does to me.
Thanks for your thoughts. I know this doesn’t help much. Talk about this with your friends, bloggers, Al-Anon, then make a decision. Thinking of you. Peggy

part of the whole medical bills, court bills, unpaid other bills issue is that they come to YOUR house, and so, since the address is the same, are linked to YOUR credit record.

fairly easy and cheap solution.

go get a post office box in your daughter’s name. pay it a year in advance. fill out a change of address form from YOUR address to the post office box.

the bills are NOT your responsibity. they are hers.

when she comes to visit, or you see her, or once a month, go to the po box and get all her mail out and send it to wherever she is.

new saying of the month for addicts.

life is like a jar of jalapeno’s. what you eat tonight can bite you in the ass tomorrow.


Dawn – thanks for the suggestion, but it would be fruitless, at this point, to try to pass on any bills to my daughter. She had almost 6 years of unopened mail in her apartment when I cleaned it out after she was evicted last June. She’s now using heroin and living in a crack house. I don’t plan on paying any of her bills. Most will be ‘forgiven’ and erased after 7 years, I believe. I don’t like this reality – but, it is the reality. She needs to ultimately ‘make amends’ to her debtors – but she will never be able to pay them back. And, she most likely will never be able to rent housing on her own, buy a car, etc. The financial/credit/legal ramifications of her drug addiction will be with her the rest of her life.

I don’t like watching any of the “reality” television shows on addiction, because the truth is, I don’t feel like they are the reality. That is just my perception and of course, I don’t fault anyone who chooses to use this medium, whether for entertainment or information.

We also never tried a formal intervention. We had an information invention on Christmas Day, 2008, when my brother told us in front of our son that he (my son) had stolen a large sum of money from his wallet the night before. My brother had 10 years of parenting an addict under his belt at that point, and he was kind and considerate and loving and spoke to Bryan on our behalf. Bryan did go into detox that day and that was the start of his first formal rehab (intensive outpatient after detoxing). We’ve had 3-4 rehab attempts since, but God bless, right now he is clean and sober for 4-1/2 months.

I think every single attempt, program and approach has the potential to be 100% successful if and only if the addict wants it. It doesn’t matter how much any of us want it for them.

You remain in my thoughts and prayers.

Thanks, Lisa. I’m celebrating Bryan’s sobriety and will keep him and you in my thoughts and karma prayers. Hearing this gives me hope – which I need right now.

Peggy, as you know, I completely agree with the comment made above. I have tried for 4 years without results to get my daughter clean (3-4 times in rehab). The only thing I can add is that you can try to relate this story and your plan to Hayley and see how she responds. She might be intrigued with it or she may not. Just prepare yourself for rejection and disappointment if you decide to go through with it. If anyting positive happens as a result, you can be pleasantly surprised. I think you still feel, like I did, that you “have” to do something. I completely understand your mindset. I have had the same mindset for many years. In retrospect, things still are the same, whether I had struggled with my daughter’s addiction or whether I had come to terms with it sooner. It has to be their idea and there has to be a motivation. Remember, we did not create it and we can’t control it. I know that doesn’t sound very helpful.

These reminders are very helpful. It’s like I need to implant some kind of electronic device in to my brain to “beep”/shock me every time I think about or hatch a plan to save my daughter. I probably could save myself a lot of misery and time by accepting my daughter’s situation, and carrying on with my own life. But how does one accept heroin addiction? I’m just not there yet. I still feel that I haven’t tried absolutely everything yet. I’m working on dealing with my own guilt, fear, grief, and anxiety – – – those are huge issues. They are deeply ingrained in my being, since I was raised on the first three. And doing ‘nothing’, just standing by and waiting for something to happen, fuels all of those feelings. However, hearing other people give their opinions, and offer support and encouragement, certainly does help. So, thank you for these comments. I seem to need a constant infusion to maintain my strength and resolve. Best, Peggy

First and foremost..Thanks for your post and the information.
I am not a fan of the show for the simple fact that I understand a “backstory” on someone’s condition may be needed, and I understand the importance of allowing family members to show their love, concern, and support. What I am more concerned about is what happens after the intervention, after treatment. A treatment facility is just that, a facility. I was told that treatment was a place of discovery, upon leaving that was the start of recovery.
I have been clean for 4 years and 3 months and can tell you from personal experience that an addict will not stop using until they are ready to stop. They can be threatened, prayed over, consoled, jailed, beaten, but they will not stop until they are desperate enough to stop.
My thoughts and prayers are with you and Hayley. I hope that she has that moment of clarity and realizes that recovery is possible and she is worth it.
Take Care…Bob D.
P.S. I added you to my blogroll as well.

Thanks so much for this input. Even though, deep in my heart, I know it’s true that an addict will only stop when they’re ‘ready’, and desperate enough – – – I’m just so scared that my daughter won’t make it to that point before killing herself.

I am especially interested in hearing stories of recovery, like yours. First, you speak from experience, and certainly possess the ultimate credibility. I can learn from you. Secondly, and more importantly, you give me hope for my daughter.

I’d love to hear more about you and your story – – – how you came to the point of wanting to get clean, treatment, help. And, how do you keep yourself on the recovery path?

It looks like you have a blog – I’ll visit your site and try to catch up a bit with who/where you are. Again, thank you for taking the time to give some input. It means a lot. Peggy

I would be more than happy to answer any questions for you. You can leave me something on my blog or I would be happy to give you my email address.

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