Responses to the new TLC program, “Addicted”: Wednesday nites, 10:00 pm

Posted on March 22, 2010. Filed under: addiction, Addiction Resources/Support, Intervention, Parent of an Addict | Tags: , , , , , , |

I have a tiny slice of personal history with Kristina Wandzilak, the ‘star’ and professional interventionist featured in TLC’s new program, Addicted. See my recent blog post, Addicted, for context and details.

I highly recommend Kristina’s memoir, The Lost Years. Here’s a brief overview:

The Lost Years, Surviving a Mother and Daughter’s Worst Nightmare, by Kristina Wandzilak and Constance Curry.

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, now a nationally acclaimed speaker on addiction and is a professional addiction interventionist.  Visit her website at:

This memoir was helpful 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 even glanced at the book?  Who knows.

Kristina’s approach to intervention is this:  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.

I was anxious to watch Kristina’s new program and see if there would be any new info, approach, strategies to ‘help’ an addict.  Kristina, a former crack addict and alcoholic, is now a professional interventionist in the San Francisco Bay area and believes that addiction is a family disorder. She tries to engage an addict’s entire family in the recovery process.  While trying to connect with Amanda, the ‘star’ addict of this first show, Kristina whispered to Amanda,   “I would never ask you to do something I haven’t done myself”.  This is true – and gives Kristina instant credibility and a more personal slant to the intervention process.  Kristina says that “the family can lead and the addict will follow”.  I’m not so sure about this.  You might want to visit The Kristina Chronicles, Kristina’s blog about addiction issues.

Personally, I thought that much of the program was melodramatic and a bit contrived,  focusing on the actual addictive behavior (to shock?  draw in an audience in a voyeuristic way?).  I would have  preferred to see more on the realities of recovery after completion of the treatment program vs the  pre-intervention/intervention process.  It would have been more helpful to me to see  Day 30 of treatment and how the addict then deals with post-treatment issues/challenges and sustaining sobriety.  This is when real recovery starts, and appears to be the most challenging for the addict – when the structure of a treatment program is stripped away and the recovering addict faces the reality of maintaining  sobriety amidst the triggers of depression, mental illness, lack of interpersonal skills, confidence, and self-esteem.  I also would have liked some footage dedicated to counseling family members in their post-treatment role to support the addict vs enabling behavior.  Jeez – will I ever get that part right?

I know that my own daughter will need some kind of long term treatment program and supervised living setting if she ever does decide to change her life.  Does any one have recommendations for 6 – 12 month, reasonably priced programs?

Here are some comments from my blog, pertinent to the program and intervention process:

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. Bob –

What does desperation mean to you?  To the addict?  There is such a wide range of responses, no wonder it’s impossible to predict or recognize when an addict has “hit bottom”.

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. Lisa C.

So – here are some essential questions:  does the intervention process work?  If an addict says “yes” to treatment after an intervention, what are the statistics regarding length of recovery?  Is it ‘real’ recovery if an addict responds to the pressure of a family intervention?  Does it matter whether or not the addict is responding to family pressure vs recovery and treatment being initiated by the addict her/him self?

I asked a few friends to watch Addicted last week.  A couple of them had to turn it off – it was just too raw and made them extremely uncomfortable.  They’re right.  It was.  I didn’t particularly like watching it either.

And yet, I am desperate to learn more, find some concrete answers to how to facilitate (vs enabling) my daughter’s recovery.  I’m running out of time, I’m afraid.


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11 Responses to “Responses to the new TLC program, “Addicted”: Wednesday nites, 10:00 pm”

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HELP… I have a son who is 34 years old. Since the age of 14 he has had major drug issues and has been in and out of programs. He is just finished parole and while I live in another state I have just found out that my son is once again strung out on heroin. I don’t have the money or resources to help anymore but my son needs help. Please can someone help me or advise me as what I do.

Thank you so much for your show.


Iwould like to talk to Christine.

Hi, Chris. You can get in touch with Kristina through her website: I hope you find the help you need. Please let me know if I can be of any further assistance.

Another great post with questions I am desperate for the answer to myself. I loved Bob’s feedback too. My sister Hannah is halfway through her rehab programme now and for the moment she is clean and safe. The moment she walks out of those doors my neck will tense up and I’ll jump every time the phone rings. If only we had a crystal ball.

Nora – thanks for visiting my blog. I just visited your blog and have added you to my blogroll. You’re a good writer, and I’ll be trying to keep up with your posts. I liked your post about lying and deceit which, I guess, is part of the heroin addict’s profile. I’m not sure when or how I’ll ever be able to trust my daughter again.

I liked Kristina’s no ambush approach.

I didn’t like that she was willing to help her after she got kicked out of the rehab, but didn’t like that her willingness to help was dependent on her not having used/lied about her use. She’s the professional. Even if she used and lied, if she is willing to try again then help her try again!

I also didn’t like Kristina insisting that the daughter return for the final family meeting even though she kept saying she didn’t want to and it was making her feel like she “needed a drink!” It makes no sense to emotionally destabilize a person in early recovery. Seemed like the show needed the wrap up scene whether or not it was in the daughter’s best interest. And sure enough she relapsed after “weeks and weeks” of no use.

I also would have liked to see some more of the actual treatment.

I do think interventions can work to start a treatment process. I do think the recovery is “real” even if initiated by the family and not the dependent person. The real issue is that an intervention only gets you to the treatment door…there is still a long way to go.

I liked Kristina as a person and will keep watching at least for a while to get a better understanding of her approach.

oh Peg. Yah, I watched it. They sure did clean up alot of the REAL dynamics of living with a junkie LOL. and WHAT parent of a junkie would leave the junkie IN THEIR HOUSE FOR A WEEKEND !!!

I think any interventionist’s agenda is twofold. One, they truly do want to help the addict and the family, but SECONDLY, it is a BUSINESS, and not a cheap one either. Interventionists make damn good money!!

Funny, someone said in the other comments that 10% of interventions work.

The SAMSHA statistics say that left alone to their own devices, 13% of addicts will get and stay clean themselves.

Now, isn’t THAT interesting?

I think the bottom line is that interventionists are a balm for the family. That way, the family can say well, we did EVERYTHING we could.

Junkies either get clean, continue to use till the die or get put in prison. Only three ways it ends up.

And long term? I have never heard from a junkie who stayed clean more than 3 years who wasn’t involved HEAVILY in NA. I mean, even after 10 years, they STILL go to two meetings a day sometimes.

Heroin never gives up.

If it sounds too good to be true, It probably is.

Dawn – I laughed out loud (is that lol?) at your comment about the naive (dumb?) parents who would leave a junkie at home alone for a weekend. Some of those details just didn’t resonate for me – and I even wondered if it was a set up for the daughter to use one more time before going to treatment. Was a deal struck? I wouldn’t be surprised, for TV purposes, if some drama was orchestrated. As usual, I appreciate your no bs comments.

Good Morning Peg,
For me desperation is complete collapse of the human condition: body, mind, and spirit. The old line of being sick and tired of being sick and tired still holds true today.
Although tolerance may play a role there is really no difference between using addicts. The rate of decline varies from days to years, but the underlying theme is that it’s all downhill.
I believe that intervention does work when the time is right. I think the thing to bear in mind here is that I can’t have any length of time clean unless I stay clean starting with one day.
I am more than certain there are statistics out there but I would find them difficult to quantify due to the fact that recovery is a voluntary, anonymous facet of life.
I believe I had heard in treatment that 1 in 5 will stay clean for a time longer than 1 year. This brings me to something that is unable to be measured, desire. If an addict has the desire to stay clean and is able to follow that desire up with a commitment to themselves first, things will begin to happen. So from desperation to desire is what is needed. Is the desire there? I can’t measure it nor can I pass desire onto someone else but what i can do is be the power of example, not in the sense that I have arrived at some grand plateau of existence, but rather I have been where your daughter is and I know that it is possible.
If you or a loved one has a drug problem, maybe this may help:
Thanks and as always my thoughts are with you.

Thanks for this input, Bob. “From Desperation to Desire” would be a great book title! This phrase is something I’m tucking away in to my repertoire. You’re right, I know. My daughter has to have the desire to get clean – I might even add the adjective, “burning” desire. Hope she can acquire that for herself before something dire happens.

I was told by the professionals at the rehab my son went to that less than 10 percent get clean after intervention and treatment. That was their statistics, but who knows, anyone could be in that “10” percent. I personally think the TV reality shows regarding addiction are just too shiny and glossy. It also just adds to my pain, so I just don’t watch. Great Post.

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