• Drug addict Alyson’s desperate plight features on ‘Intervention’. (SBS)Source: SBS
There is heartbreak and hope as families intervene to save the lives of loved ones.
Jim Mitchell

6 Jun 2019 - 11:54 AM  UPDATED 16 Nov 2020 - 2:51 PM

In SBS VICELAND’s Intervention, we witness addictions of all stripes – prescription medicine, crystal meth, plastic surgery, food, shopping, gambling and gaming among them. But the common thread is a life spiralling out of control.

Each addict in the documentary series is confronted by their loved ones with a surprise intervention guided by professional interventionists Jeff VanVonderen or Candy Finnigan. The result is intense, emotional viewing as the afflicted decides whether they’ll go to treatment. Here are a few of their stories. 


Sara has lost everything due to her addiction to crystal meth: her marriage, job, house, cars and custody of her 3-year-old daughter Madison. “She was willing to give Madi up for the drugs and that hurts her,” says John, Sara’s father. “That hurts her badly.”

Sara’s habit has seen her turn to crime and a warrant is out for her arrest. Now, she must decide if she’ll go to rehab in a bid to get her life back on track.

“I’m not a good mum,” she says. “I’m not a good daughter. I’m nothing. I’m nobody.” 


“Nothing else in the world matters when I have crack-cocaine,” says Matt, 19. To fund his habit, he’s stolen US$15,000 of valuables from his family, admitting that, “if it’s not bolted down and it’s worth money, and I’m chasin’ that high, that’s it.” Matt calls himself “a liar, a cheat and a thief,” and says words can’t describe how much he’s hurt his family.

The teenager’s addiction has taken a heavy psychological and physical toll, with Matt experiencing paranoia and hallucinations, and losing his two front teeth when a drug deal turned violent.

“If he says no to treatment, I don’t know what his future’s gonna hold,” says his desperate mum Judy. 


Gabe puts his gambling addiction down to an escape from his depression. “I feel like I’m gonna be one of the cool, hip, swingin’, rat pack type of people,” he says. “Ring-a-ding-ding, cha-ching, ya know?”

The aspiring entertainer feels he hasn’t lived up to his early promise as a child prodigy and academic, and has now racked up a US$200,000 gambling debt. He’s erratic and aggressive as he begs his mother Laurie for money – she and his father Irv have already taken on some of his debt by mortgaging their house.

“It’s torn us apart emotionally, says Laurie. “Our family is essentially shattered now.” 


“I love drugs because they make me forget myself,” admits Alyson, but her desperate situation becomes all too apparent in her anguish, captured in a home video. “I don’t wanna be like this,” she cries. “I don’t feel good.”

The former White House intern, 27, became addicted to drugs at university, and has been using heroin, marijuana, pills and morphine for seven years. The latter she steals from the bedside safe of her chronically ill father, Hal.

“My drug use is killing me, and I could be killing my father,” she tearfully admits.

“I think this intervention is her last hope,” says mum Patricia. “It can’t happen soon enough.”



Twenty-one-year-old Peter started playing video games when he was five and can now spend 24 hours straight gaming, the rush is showing itself in some disturbing displays of aggressive competition. Gaming is his drug, a balm for his depression and loneliness, the game consul a literal outlet for control.

“You’re controlling what’s happening,” he says. “You can never be let down by a game the way you can by real people.”

His mother Debra blames herself for not being present in his life, and says her son is “teetering on the edge”. “He shows more emotion when he’s playing his games than anything he does in real life,” she says.

As Peter’s loved ones watch him spiral out of control, they intervene, fearful he’ll take his own life.


Intervention airs on Monday 16 November at 12am midnight on SBS VICELAND. Episodes will stream at SBS On Demand after broadcast.

For more information or support, please visit https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/drug-and-alcohol-rehabilitation or call Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.

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