Warning: Last night’s episode of Intervention was very sad. I mean, all the episodes are sort of devastating because they’re about the horrible nature of addiction, but usually the narrative is so blatantly misogynistic and Christian that I’m able to see the absurdity in it all. But last night’s story was too heartbreaking to be ridiculous, too close to to the bone, a real slice of poisoned American pie.
Jimmy is a 28 year old gang member-turned cocaine trafficker-turned heroin addict-turned methadone addict. Methadone is a synthetic opiate doctors prescribe to wean people off of heroin, but the problem is that because the drug is so similar to heroin, the addicts just end up getting hooked on that instead. It seems like a very shoddy system-rehabbing people from heroin. Two highs don’t make a right, do they? Anyways, Jimmy seems to have gone swimming in the sea of denial about his problems. Even though he takes numerous methadone pills a day and mixes them with Xanax, he claims he’s not addicted because they’re all legal prescriptions. Welcome to the reality of Generation Rx-a modern moment in time when everyone has their doctor on speed dial and gets handed Ambien for restless nights, Xanax for those stressful family dinners and Vicodin for pesky headaches. Everyone has a new drug dealer and it’s called Walgreens pharmacy. These addictions are easy to be in denial about because instead of meeting some random in an alleyway for your drugs, you can go to a fancy brightly-lit office and talk to some dude with a PHD. You know, I thought that being cognizant of your addiction was a prerequisite to being casted on the show but I guess the producers are looking for a harder edge in season 9.
The episode begins with Jimmy flying a plane, which is very confusing and scary because it was just revealed he was addicted to methadone and Xanax. He’s been unemployed for eight months and has suffered from seizures. Growing up, he had an emotionally unavailable alcoholic father (ding! ding! ding!) and he always felt unwanted as a result. By the age of 13, he found a sense of belonging in a neighborhood gang (couldn’t he have just joined a basketball team?) and started to traffic cocaine in his late teens. Eventually, he left the gang (the details are vague), knocked a girl up and got sober for a sec. As usual, the birth of his child is regarded as a life-changing experience, a reason to stop using drugs. But because this is Intervention and not a television show called I’m Sober, he relapses back into heroin and loses custody of his son.
The most tragic component of this story is the relationship between Jimmy and his mother Joanie-a fragile woman who suffers from lupus and is also prescribed methadone for her various ailments. When Jimmy runs out of his own personal stash of drugs, Joanie supplies him with hers, having ultimately to numb her physical (and emotional) pain with copious amounts of vodka. In fact, Joanie gets wasted on camera and starts sobbing to her fiance about various things including Jimmy. It becomes quickly apparent that Joanie is also an addict and the key enabler in her son’s life.
Another sad moment: Jimmy goes out to dinner with his distant father who rejects him on a daily basis. Also, I don’t really know where to mention this, but Jimmy has a really hot stepbrother named Raul and it’s actually sort of distracting.
At the pre-intervention, Jeff, the interventionist, has a secret powwow with the family sans Joanie and tells them she’ll be going into treatment along with Jimmy. Everyone is relieved because Joanie is so broken and sad that you almost get the impression that she could die like any second.
So. The intervention. Jimmy arrives and is initially super hostile and resistant to the idea of going to treatment, like more so than the average addict on Intervention. He claims to use his prescriptions to manage pain that stems from a soft flesh bullet wound he received in his ass (I’m not kidding. He was shot in the ass by a gang member and his family is like, “So you were shot in the ass. Get over it!). His attitude changes, however, when his normally icy father reads a heartfelt letter begging him to get help. Jimmy is so moved by the uncharacteristically kind gesture that he agrees to enter treatment.
Joanie and Jimmy both get sober at their respective rehabs. Jimmy has been sober since September 20th, 2010. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some serious fuging to do.