An Oral History of “Intervention”

oral historyWell, the final episode of Intervention aired last night, and of course I cried and felt very sad, just as I expected I would. It’s been such a compelling and insightful and inspiring show for so many addicts (current and former), as well as family members and friends of addicts. Such a shame that the show has been supplanted by absolute trash like Duck Dynasty, but that’s the way it goes in the entertainment business, I suppose.

Anyway, I had to share this wonderful Buzzfeed piece, which is an “oral history” of the show from the perspective of the producers and interventionists Jeff VanVonderen, Candy Finnigan, Ken Seeley, and Seth Jaffe, as well as the subject of “everyone’s favorite episode,” former computer duster huffer Allison Fogarty, whose interview I’ve excerpted below. These compassionate, brave people are truly heroes for the work that they do, and I applaud their eight years of braving the cameras to bring the issue of addiction and recovery to the American consciousness. Thank you.

UPDATE: Vulture published another Intervention oral history today, which I initially thought was the same thing, but turns out to have different quotes. So here it is, it’s excellent as well!

Allison Fogarty: Jeff [VanVonderen] and my family had my cat taken away. My cat was the catalyst for me going to treatment. It was so easy for me to be mad at everyone, but my cat didn’t deserve any of this, so I spent the next day just hanging out in a bank because cameras can’t go in banks. It was stupid because every five minutes I would sober up again so it was hijinks after hijinks. I finally came home, and they stopped by and they were like, “This is your last chance, yadda, yadda,” and I was like, “Fuck off.” Then the next morning Jeff said, “We’re leaving, do you want to come with us?” And I just gave up and said, “OK, yeah, I guess so.”

VanVonderen: After we called animal protective services on Allison’s cat, and she agreed to go treatment, she wanted nothing to do with me.

Fogarty: At that point it wasn’t even that I wanted to get better, I just wanted to punish everyone else. Like, “I’m leaving forever!” We drove right to the airport.

VanVonderen: She has her little hoodie over her head, her cloak of shame. We get to the airport. And I’m purposely not talking to her ‘cause I don’t want to blow the gig — so I went to the gift shop and bought her a stuffed cat and I walked up to her, handed her the cat, and we didn’t say anything to each other the whole plane ride to rehab.

Fogarty: At rehab, word had gotten around to the staff and clients that I was being brought in by Intervention. So when I got there, one of the clients was like, “Oh, you’re the new girl from Intervention.” And I was like, “What the hell is Intervention?” The first night I was there, the clients showed me an episode of the show and I was like, “FUCK MY LIFE.” And that was the first time I ever saw an episode, my first day in rehab.

VanVonderen: Six months after taking Allison to rehab I got an email from her apologizing for being such “a dick” and thanking me and hoping I forgive her. I wrote her back and said of course, and I’m glad she’s doing good, and I asked how’s the cat doing in treatment. And she said, “Cat VanVonderen is doing really well.”

Fogarty: Obviously I’m grateful. I did the work and things turned out right. But it was a giant trauma. I wish I could have gotten to where I am without having to go through that experience. I don’t feel like things are 100% fixed with my family, and it’s embarrassing when I go on dates and the guy knows who I am. When I go out and people are like, “Oh my god, you’re that drug addict! That was the funniest hour of my life!” It happens a couple times a week. I still have 100% shame when that happens. But some people approach me in a really positive way, like this woman at Pinkberry started to sob next to me in line and she hugged me and told me that her brother saw my episode and it saved his life because he got into treatment. And I hugged her and said I was so glad, but it was still very awkward.

[Executive Producer] Dan Partland: Sometimes the tough part is after addicts get clean and the reruns come on and it’s traumatic for them. And when we learned of that, we would ask the network to suspend use of their episode, and they did that every time.

Fogarty: When my show is re-airing, someone from the show generally tells me they are re-airing. But there was a recent promo that featured my episode that I didn’t know about and I just cried and cried when I saw it. At this point, I just launched my own business and feel like, enough already, it’s been five years, I’ve done my time. I feel like it’s time to let me go.

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