Meet Candy Finnigan, Interventionist
It’s hard to know how to start when introducing Candy because she’s so accomplished. Say that she’s part of the cast of the Emmy-winning A&E show “Intervention,” televised Mondays since 2005? Or that she’s written a self-help book, When Enough is Enough: A Comprehensive Guide to Successful Intervention? That she’s in recovery herself, celebrating 25 years of sobriety?
Joan introduced Candy to me by saying she’s privately helped many people get into treatment, including singers, actors, and politicians, but she has also educated millions about addiction and recovery through her regular appearances on “Intervention,” inspiring them to seek treatment for themselves or their loved ones.
Her credentials are listed on Amazon: “She received her certification in chemical dependency from UCLA and completed her internship at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. She trained with the man who developed the intervention process, Vernon Johnson, and she has been affiliated as an interventionist with the Betty Ford Center, The Meadows, Hazelden, and many other treatment centers.”
Malibu Beach Recovery Center is not listed there, but Candy told me, when I interviewed her, that the Malibu Beach Recovery Center holds a special place in her heart because it treats the whole person. “[The Malibu Beach Recovery System] reprograms the brain not to have the drug be your reward,” she said.
Candy has sent two clients from the TV show “Intervention” to Malibu Beach Recovery Center, both by chance from New Jersey.
The most recent is Rachel whose segment will launch Intervention’s 10th season on December 13, 2010. When Candy intervened on her she was homeless, sleeping on the steps of a Fifth Avenue Manhattan church. Neither Joan nor Candy would give away the ending but both describe Rachel’s story as reality TV at its best, filled with fireworks and drama.
The first was Angelina, who arrived in September 2009 and never looked back. Followers of “Intervention”’s Facebook page recently voted Angelia’s episode one of their three favorite shows of all time. Both A&E and Malibu Beach Recovery Center have done video follow ups on Angelina’s remarkable
transformation from a down-and-out New Jersey heroin addict to a vibrant young woman who now lives in West Los Angeles, holds down a steady job, has reconnected with her family, is involved in a committed long term relationship, and participates fully in the 12 step community.
Here’s more of my interview with Candy:
Pat: How did you get your start?
Candy: I actually started helping people in 12-step programs and then I went for training. Vernon Johnson, a minister who introduced interventions in the 1960’s, had a big influence on me. He also wrote I’ll Quit Tomorrow. Johnson got the idea for intervention at funerals. People would get up and talk about the deceased, and he wondered why they didn’t do that when the person was alive.
Pat: Briefly—I know you wrote a whole book about intervention—but how can you make someone go to treatment who doesn’t want to go?
Candy: The primary symptom is denial. Addicts think everyone around them is making things up. But when the family gets together and talks to their loved one, each one holds a mirror up to his or her actions. They talk about how they see addiction affecting the addict, and what it has meant to them. If the addict chooses not to go, you can talk about consequences, but you can’t really give someone consequences when it’s a disease, any more than you would give a heart disease patient consequences. As I say in my book, intervention is successful about 80% of the time.
Pat: Please tell us what made you join the cast of “Intervention.”
Candy: (Laughs.) I actually signed on because I didn’t think it would fly. But Sam Mettler, the series creator, knew exactly what he wanted to do. I’ve asked people why they let the film crew film the experience, and they say “Because I never want anyone else to have to go through this.” The families have such generosity.
Pat:. How’s the program going?
Candy: We’re approaching our 175th show and over 90,000 people have applied to appear on it. It’s more important than ever to get people into treatment. More people die today from accidental prescription pill overdose than from gunshot wounds.
NOTE from Joan Borsten: The Intervention TV website is an excellent resource for locating treatment centers, sober living houses, and finding information about the disease of addiction.