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Aired August 19, 2005 - 21:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Their addictions were out of control.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't have any control over anything!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I drink. And I drink and I drink.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Their lives hung in the balance.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, inside the desperate drama of their interventions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What diabolical plans you have for me now?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not in groove (ph) today.



KING: Good evening. We've discussed intervention on this program before with former President Gerald Ford and Betty Ford and how the Ford family conducted an intervention with Betty. At that time, there was no Betty Ford Center. Now that's one of the spots people who are recipients of an intervention do go.

And that's our subject for tonight: Intervention. Our special guest is Jeff Vanvonderen. He is an interventionist and substance abuse counselor, facilitator for A&E's intervention program. He is the author of five books about addiction and how to beat it.

Also with us in this segment is Sara -- we're not going to reveal the last names -- who lost almost everything to crystal meth addiction. Tell me how this show works, Jeff.

JEFF VANVONDEREN, SUBSTANCE ABUSE COUNSELOR: Well, for me, I get a call, and the cameras and the crew have already been there, filming Sara for instance, and she's agreed to be on a documentary about addiction. So they've been following her around, and filming different aspects of her life.

KING: You mean the intervention has occurred already?

VANVONDEREN: No, no. And they're interviewing her family and they are talking about their concerns, and you know, they're showing her and she's talking about her concerns, and so ...

KING: But she knows there's going to be an intervention?

VANVONDEREN: No, but she knows that she's being filmed. There are no hidden cameras.

Before we talk with Sara, being an addict is a full-time job. Listen to the desperation in Sara's voice in this clip from A&E's "Intervention." Listen.


SARA, RECOVERING CRYSTAL METH ADDICT: Methamphetamines, glass, ice, the devil's drug. That's my drug of choice.

Getting high isn't fun anymore. I need to, because I get sick if I don't. I can't function normally if I don't. And I get that lump in your throat. And then you know, you get that like sadness feeling and the loneliness. From the time I wake up until the time I eventually go to bed, you know, consists of finding it, getting it, doing it.


KING: Why did you start?

SARA: I started using when I was in high school, and because somebody had told me it makes you feel really good, and it just started out with my girlfriends and I were trying it on the weekend.

KING: Did it make you feel good?

SARA: Yeah, it did.

KING: And that's the attraction to do it again, right?

SARA: Correct.

KING: And so you used it for a lot of years?

SARA: I used it back in '98, and it really didn't become a problem until 2001, after my daughter was 6 months old. My husband and I were having issues in the house, so I started using it to medicate what was going on in the house, and my husband ended moving out, and my addiction just got worse.


SARA: I mean, it just breaks up the family, then it breaks up the family -- because I am not doing this because I (EXPLETIVE DELETED) enjoy what I'm doing. I don't need to come home. I don't...


KING: How did the intervention show find out about you?

SARA: I had actually seen an ad in the paper, and I actually contacted the show.

KING: Because you wanted help?

SARA: Yes.

KING: So were you very surprised at the interventionists and the whole thing that occurred?

SARA: Yeah. Well, when I answered the ad, I had no idea what was going to happen, and everybody said, what did you think was going to happen? And I honestly thought that they were going to come out there, going to videotape, and they were going to be on their way, and maybe they'd have a caption under my name saying, like, Sara -- or caption under my picture saying "Sara finally went to treatment," or "Sara never went to treatment." So I guess I wasn't -- I didn't know that I was going to get the help. So I mean, it was just all one big surprise.

KING: So why did you agree to do it?

SARA: Because I was in so much pain. I didn't have my daughter. My family life was just -- I mean, I wasn't getting along with my parents. Everything was just out of control. I was on my way to jail. I had failed the UA (ph), and so I mean, I agreed to go to treatment just because I knew...

KING: Who was at the intervention?

SARA: It was my mom, my dad, my attorney, my aunt, my grandmother and my friend's parents.

KING: Did you walk into the room and they were there?

SARA: Yes, yes. I thought I was going to my last interview on camera.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have made it very hard for me to believe anything that you say. To go from morning to night without worrying about if it's the last time that I will see you alive.


KING: And they tell you right away why they're there?

SARA: Yeah. She told me to sit down, and that one by one, they went around the room and told me how they weren't going to enable anymore, and I had an opportunity of a lifetime to go to one of the best treatment facilities in the world. And...

KING: What did that do to you?

SARA: I was very angry and upset, for one, because they had lied to me about where they'd been the night before, and just all the secrets that they had kept from me. And it took about two hours before I finally agreed to go.

KING: What facility did you go to?

SARA: I was up at Concord at RMS (ph).

KING: We'll be right back with Jeff Vanvonderen and Sara. Our program tonight deals with intervention, in conjunction with A&E's show. We'll tell you about that showtime too. Don't go away.



SARA: Nothing.


SARA: Yeah?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... do not have you here when I come home, I honest to God will call the cops on you and find you.

SARA: For what?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because I want to talk. Now, is that it? Do you understand me?

SARA: Yeah.




SARA: I don't know Rusty (ph) very well. I don't know his eyes like I know my daughter's eyes. (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's he doing? What's up?



SARA: How's your eyes?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My eyes are fine. Just tired.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: Why, Jeff Vanvonderen, does it work, or generally work?

VANVONDEREN: There's a lot of reasons why. First of all, it's because maybe for the first time, everybody who is involved in the person's life is all in the same place, and usually, what happens is that the person who is in trouble, who has the problem, they're kind of spinning plates for different people, so they paint a different picture, and nobody sees the whole picture. So...

KING: You lie to people.

VANVONDEREN: Yeah, and they just, you know, and it's versions, you know, of stories. And once you get everybody in the same room, it doesn't work to do that anymore, because now everybody knows the whole picture. And I've actually done interventions where the person walks in the room and goes, "what do you want me to do?" Because they realize right then that it's just not going to work to spin plates anymore. And you know, and that's how I wish they would all go. I mean, some of them take 10, 12 hours.

KING: How long did you spend in rehab, Sara?

SARA: I was there for four months.

KING: And been clean since?

SARA: Yes, going on nine months.

KING: How long is that now?

SARA: Nine months.

KING: What about your baby?

SARA: I now have her overnight, and I have unsupervised visits with her.

KING: Don't have your husband anymore.


KING: Where are you working?

SARA: I am working at the sheriff's department now.

KING: Really? Used to investigate now and you're working.

SARA: Correct.

KING: Dealing with drugs?

SARA: Yeah. I'm a prevention, educational consultant. I help teach the officers what they don't already know about meth. And I do public speaking for them as well.

KING: Now at the end of the intervention, the moment of truth for Sara, it's her grandmother's words that get to her. Watch.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is your chance, Sara. Please take it.

SARA: I would.


SARA: She said -- she said. I said, I would.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I didn't hear you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did you say, Sara?

SARA: I said I would.

SARA: No, don't, please! Don't! Please.



KING: That was an angry, I would. You still didn't really want to go.

SARA: Not at that point, no, I didn't.

KING: How many stay straight? What percentage?

VANVONDEREN: You know, it's a life threatening disease. And you know if I said 50 percent, if I said that -- and by the way, I think it's higher than that, but if I said 50 percent, what other life threatening disease would somebody not take 50 percent odds with?

KING: Why did it work for you, Sara?

SARA: It worked because it got me away from my environment, it got me away from all of the friends I was using with. It showed me how other people live and just how other lifestyles are that are out there.

KING: Ever have a desire to go back?


KING: None at all?

SARA: None.

KING: So, you got the facility ready. What do you have, a car, ready, ready outside the house?

VANVONDEREN: Yes. Or plane tickets.

KING: What did they do with you? SARA: That day that I said yes, I mean, I went home. I had about 20 minutes to pack. And I hopped on the plane. And I landed in San Francisco.

KING: Will you eventually get your baby back?

SARA: Yes.

KING: How old now?

SARA: She'll be 4 in September.

KING: She's had her daddy?

SARA: Yes.

KING: You see her how often?

SARA: Tuesdays and Thursdays and every other Saturday.

KING: Is there a good possibility you will get custody?

SARA: Yes.

KING: You have to stay straight for a certain amount of time.

SARA: Yes.

KING: So, this show saved your life. This intervention saved your life.

SARA: It did. I was in and out of jail. I was just -- I was near death. I really didn't care if I lived or died. And the reason I answered the ad, too, is because my parents were on my back to get help and have something be done. And I thought if they'd seen what I was going through and just seeing that I was truly addicted and what I was doing wasn't enjoyable that maybe they'd get off of my back and not pressure me so much.

KING: Congratulations, Sara.

We're going to meet other people who were helped in "Intervention." Then at the end of the show, Sara will return with those other people. We'll be right back.


SARA: And basically, what this party is for is a celebration of a new life.

Oh, my gosh!






UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's your agenda to ruin my life! What else?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, you've ruined your life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, what else do you have in your arsenal? What else do you have?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just your choice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What else is there? I want to know everything! What else?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh. But there's something more.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's being concealed from me, just like everything's been concealed from me.



KING: We thank the cooperation of A&E's "Intervention" show. And don't forget, on Sunday night there will be a big wrap up, revisiting all of the people they've helped. Our guest is Jeff Vanvonderen. And joining is now is Gabe.

Gabe was once a child prodigy, started college at age 11, had a master's degree at age 18, as an adults ran up hundreds of thousands of dollars in gambling debts. The parents had to sell their home to pay his casino bills.

Let's go back a little. As a teenager, teaching college, Gabe created a way to teach classes using rap. CNN actually did a story on Gabe back then and his method of educating people. Watch.


GABE, RECOVERING GAMBLING ADDICT: (INAUDIBLE) in the middle. It's in the middle. Now that you understand the position, let's discuss the reaction condition. Double (INAUDIBLE) in the ring for awhile.


KING: With all you had going for you, Gabe, what led to gambling? GABE: Well, it started innocently enough. I mean, I went to Vegas with my grandparents on my 21st birthday. That was my first bet. I didn't grow up with gambling being a constant, in my life. You know, I was always a very straight arrow.

KING: Were you teaching then at the time?

GABE: Well, I had already graduated with my master's. And I was writing songs. I was pursuing an entertainment career. It sort of came to me after I got the attention from my chemistry teaching.

KING: What happened in Vegas?

GABE: I put some money in a slot machine, and I won my first try. So that was nice. But that didn't make me an addict at that point. Vegas was something I did -- Vegas was a place where I would go for a special occasion. It wasn't something I considered doing regularly.


GABE: Oh, for goodness sake! That's right. See, there should have been a picture instead of an eight, you know. I knew it. I knew he had a 20. I want a new shoe.


GABE: I say to myself, well, I'll try. Try $100, try $200, and then it began to turn into thousands of dollars on credit cards and so forth.

KING: All in casinos?

GABE: All in casinos.

KING: Not horse racing, not basketball?

GABE: No. Mainly black jack and poker.

KING: How in debt did you get?

GABE: Well, with credit cards and so forth that ran up about a couple hundred thousand. But in terms of all the money I lost, over a five or six-year period it was somewhere between 500 and 750.

KING: Were you his interventionist?


KING: How tough a case was this?

VANVONDEREN: There were some things he did during intervention that, like when you threaten to take a bunch of pills and stuff.


GABE: I don't have to do anything.

VANVONDEREN: Right, you don't.

GABE: I can take a bunch of pills and get it over with. And I'd rather do that than have to, than have to deal with people telling me what to do all the time.

VANVONDEREN: Now, I need to know, if you're serious about that. Because if you are, I'm calling 911.


VANVONDEREN: But he wanted to leave. And your friend stood up and stopped you from leaving. And there are a lot of different things that happened.

KING: I want to ask Gabe why it worked. But first, let's take a look at what happened when Gabe's mother refuses to give him the money he needs to cover some bounced checks.


GABE: Don't drive off! Don't do this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just leave me alone.

GABE: I said I would --


GABE: I said that I was -- I said that I would do this.


GABE: You told me you would do this today!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Give me the keys.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not doing anything to you, Gabe. Don't you see what you're doing?

GABE: You're trying to escape me!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Give me my keys. Give me my keys.

GABE: I won't until you tell me what you're going to do. You have to understand, I am panicking because 190 or $200,000 that I owe.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gabe, don't talk to me about what you have gambled away.


KING: Why did you agree to do that? GABE: Agree to do the show?

KING: Yes. Let yourself open like that.

GABE: Well, I feel like I have a different story. I wasn't addicted to anything else. Most gamblers I know have a cigarette in one hand and a drink in the other and that wasn't -- my life wasn't supposed to be like this.

KING: Do you think you could help people?

GABE: Yes. I still do.

KING: At Gabe's intervention, things got a little dramatic as you might expect. Take a look at this clip from "The Intervention."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was not your business to disclose any of this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gabe, I'm here for you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, you're asking me to completely surrender and put my trust in all of you and yet all of this behavior here right now has been just as deceptive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, this is the most important issue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gabe, don't walk out on me. Will you please sit down. You promised you'd at least hear us out.

GABE: I did. I already heard their statements.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got more.

GABE: They're prepared statements.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got more, buddy. We've got more.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you think is so terrible that is being asked of you?

GABE: Because you're forcing me to get on a plane tonight, but I don't even have all of my stuff packed and I don't have any control over anything.


KING: Why did you give in?

GABE: Well, I wanted to accept treatment. I was at a point where I didn't know what to do anymore. I was homeless. I had two Mercedes, but I was homeless and I was sleeping in my cars. And I was staying at casinos on their cots when I didn't have anyplace else to say stay. I mean, it was ridiculous. KING: Where did they send you?

GABE: They sent me to a place called Algamis (ph) Recovery Center in Rock Hills, South Carolina.

KING: How long since you've gambled?

GABE: About a little over two months.

KING: You're confident you've licked it?

GABE: Well, any addict who says that they're absolutely confident they'll never do it again, is kidding themselves. I hope that I never get down to those depths again, but it's one day at a tile. It's always one day at a time.

KING: Is gambling harder to cure than Vicodin?

VANVONDEREN: Well, in one way, it might be, because there's not a substance you can say, you know, like this.

KING: Don't take it.

VANVONDEREN: When people get addicted to mood-altering substances, there's a substance and when you get addicted to gambling, you get addicted to mood altering and people build tolerance to that just like they do with alcohol or Vicodin or something else.

KING: What do you do on days when you want to go to Vegas?

GABE: I just try to tell myself that it will all end up in misery and my wanting to kill myself, which I tried to do a number of times. I was almost successful once.

KING: Seeing yourself like that should be encouragement.

GABE: That's very hard for me to watch. It's very embarrassing. People that had no idea I had this problem are going to see this and you know, people have stopped me in the street and said, "hey, you're that sick gambler." They've said more choice words than that, but --

KING: Let me get a break and come back. Our program tonight deals with intervention in conjunction with A&E's show. We'll tell you about that show time, too. Don't go away.


GABE: Can you make it happen that it's going to be paid?


GABE: No, I need to know this. I need to know this, because I -- I can't live with these things hanging over my head anymore!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you do that to yourself. Don't you see that? GABE: Just do what you said you would do!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But gees, don't you see that, that you do this to yourself?

GABE: Of course I do!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gabe, are you're saying that if we do what was talked about on the phone, you will go tonight?

GABE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. I think that I will do it.




MATT, RECOVERING CRACK ADDICT: That's from a bad drug deal. That's from doing drugs. It was a drug dealer that punched me in the face with a pair of brass knuckles and it knocked my two front teeth right out. It's not worth it, because I'm 19 years old and now I have dentures for the rest of my life, you know what I mean?


KING: We're back with Jeff Vanvonderen, the interventionist and substance abuse counselor, the facilitator on A&E's program "Intervention." The author of five books about addiction. We're joined now by Matt, who went from a straight-A standout in school to low-scoring crack-cocaine addict. He has been clean now since early this year. Matt, what led to you start with this?

MATT: I think it was -- mostly started with recreational use just in high school. You know, I smoked marijuana and used other drugs every once in a while and it wasn't giving me the same effect. So, I wanted to --

KING: Get higher.

MATT: Yes, get higher.

KING: How bad did it get?

MATT: I've, you know, I got to the point where I was on the street for a little while. I was robbing houses, stealing money from friends and family, conning people, panhandling at some point on the street. It got pretty bad.


MATT: That's why I think I [ bleep ] up. I'm just discouraged. I eat this [ bleep ] it's so good. You hit your uvula with it in the back of your throat. Deep down, I want to flush it down the toilet right now, but the addict in me has me by the throat. It has me by the throat.


KING: How did the intervention work? Were you shocked?

MATT: Yes, I was shocked.

KING: Who was there?

MATT: My family.

KING: Jeff was there.

MATT: Yes. Jeff Vanvonderen was there. My mother and my father, my sister, my grandmother who lives with me, my brother and sister-in-law from New York came down, too, my uncle, my aunt, they came as well.

KING: And how long before they convinced you?

MATT: Actually, it just -- it only took one letter, one intervention from my grandmother, who lives with me.

KING: She was the key?

VANVONDEREN: Grandmas are brutal at the interventions. They're really good to have there. I wish I could bring one with me at everyone.

KING: Does it have to be done in a day, Jeff?

VANVONDEREN: You mean the -- well, it takes as long it takes.

KING: You've got to get them out by that night?

VANVONDEREN: Yes. So -- but there's a lot of factors. I mean, if the person starts drinking at 10:00, we have to do it at 9:00 in the morning. If they -- if we can't get them out of bed until noon, we do it at 12:15.

But, what you don't want to happen, is have all of the planes leave town, and then you have to stay overnight with somebody, because that's when they change their mind. So I actually have done another intervention once where we got to Phoenix and everything was gone to California. It was gone 11:00 at night and there was nothing left. And it was the person and her brother-in-law and myself, and we rented a car, and drove from phoenix to Southern California, just to keep the whole thing going. Plus she was going to go into withdrawal, too.

KING: How tough a case was Matt?

VANVONDEREN: Well, see, the thing about Matt is that, when I was looking at him, I could tell he doing the math in his head, you know, that he will -- first of all, he walked in the room and there was nothing adversarial at all between him and his family or whatever.

He was shocked. But there wasn't any, you know, how could you do this -- no.

And so then his grandmother read the letter. And I think I could see that he knew this was over.

And you know, if you see the show, you can see him, indications of a sense of relief, if it would just be over. He was a very tired guy.

KING: In fact, we have a clip from the intervention. Matt had a lot of questions about the rehab program he was being offered. Here's another clip of Matt from A&E's "Intervention."


VANVONDEREN: I don't have anything personally at stake for to you go to this place. So, I can tell you it's a great place. I refer people there. They do well. They like it.

MATT: How long is this for? I need to know.

VANVONDEREN: There's a primary -- there's like segments of it.

MATT: Like a level one, level two, level...

VANVONDEREN: Level one is 28 days, and then you will decide...

MATT: That's like you can't write or anybody?

VANVONDEREN: That's not true.

MATT: Or call anybody?

VANVONDEREN: That's not true. You can call. You can write. They can come visit, the whole bit.

MATT: Yes. I think I'm going to have to say yes.




KING: What was it like at the rehab?

MATT: It was nice.

KING: It worked?

MATT: It worked, yes. You know, I got to experience you know, we had -- I had fun there as well. You know? I developed a relationship with counselors and staff that were friends as well. You know, friendships, in addition to the client and faculty relationships.

KING: At its worst, your addiction was terrible. You were robbing, right?

MATT: Yes.

KING: What are you doing now?

MATT: Now I'm working. I'm working at a video store right now. I have other jobs that I've applied for with better pay, full time, that I actually have interviews with tomorrow.

KING: Living at home?

MATT: No, I was in a transitional living program -- house with a bunch of other guys in recovery, which is through the treatment center I went through. I'm actually -- I just signed a lease for an apartment today earlier this morning, so...

VANVONDEREN: From Connecticut.

MATT: Yes. So I'm staying out here in California.

KING: Are you ever tempted?

MATT: Of course I'm tempted all -- I'm tempted a lot, a lot of times, but you know, some days are worse than others.

KING: What do you do at the height of a real, strong wanting?

MATT: I pick up my phone and I call somebody that I know is, you know, doing what they're supposed to do. And I pray a lot. I never prayed before. I do a lot of reading, too. But mostly it's other people that kind of get me out of my head.

KING: What was the key to making the decision say yes?

MATT: I knew what I had to do. It wasn't really a hard choice. I had no health insurance, and I knew that I was going down. I had already been to previous rehabs, but you know, for the wrong reasons, and when I finally had the right reason to go, you know, I had no insurance. It was a hard thing to do. But it was a blessing in disguise to have this opportunity. So I had to take it. There was no...

KING: You must get a lot of rewards out of this, right?

VANVONDEREN: Yes. yes. And it's like seeing lives turning around quickly in the other direction. Because that's what hitting bottom is, like a bounce, and it goes in the other direction. And we don't want that other bounce to happen.

KING: The show is "Intervention." Matt will be back with us near the end of the program. We'll be back and meet Christine right after this.


MATT: Today I feel grateful, very grateful. My recovery is the hardest thing I've ever done by far, in my entire life. But it does get easier. And I don't know what the future holds for me, what I'm going to do, but I am going to be sober. I'm sober today. That's all that matters.




CHRISTINE, RECOVERING ALCOHOLIC: I didn't think I was going to make it, but I did. I ran, and it sucked. So far this Morning, I've had two 12-ounce beers. I had a long train ride, so I had a 24- ouncer. And I'm just about to have another 24-ouncer. And I probably will take a break in an hour and I'll make a run and go down to the nearest store and I buy another beer.


KING: We're back with Jeff Vanvonderen. Our subject is "Intervention." And we're joined by Christine, a 20-something wife and mom who described herself as a power drinker. She would sometimes have four or five beers on the way to work in the morning.

Let's watch this clip from the program of how she justified her drinking. And what one of her friends had to say about it in this clip from "Intervention." Watch.


CHRISTINE: I'm not the typical drunk. I'm not. When I drink, I feel like I can rule the world.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She puts alcohol first before everything, before Tony, before the baby, before her mom, before her friends, before herself.

CHRISTINE: I've heard the saying of liquid confidence, and that's my liquid confidence. So I drink, and I drink, and I drink.


KING: Wow. What age did you start drinking?

CHRISTINE: I've been drinking for about ten years. So early 20s.

KING: How bad did it get at its worst?

CHRISTINE: Oh, gosh, drinking in the parking lot at work, I always thought I was a little better than that, you know.

KING: Pass out?

CHRISTINE: No. I'd blackout at certain times but never out in public. KING: What was the intervention like?

CHRISTINE: It was completely shocking. It was.

KING: Tell me, what happened? Where were you?

CHRISTINE: Well, I was followed with cameras for about a week.

KING: Why did you agree to do that, by the way?

CHRISTINE: I thought it was going to be a -- a documentary on addicts and alcoholics. And basically, I -- if I couldn't help myself in anyway, I would love to help someone else. And I never see any alcoholics...

KING: But you weren't expected to be reformed from this show, you just wanted to help people.


KING: What was the intervention like?

CHRISTINE: It was completely surprising and shocking, and I did -- I was very upset.

KING: Who was there?

CHRISTINE: My mother, my husband, my best friend and a co- worker.

KING: Is this in your house?

CHRISTINE: No, it was at a hotel.

KING: Why did you go to the hotel?

CHRISTINE: Because we were going to say good-bye to the people that were filming, and just, you know, thanks for everything.

KING: You were shocked?

CHRISTINE: I was shocked. I was mad.


CHRISTINE: They made you write a letter?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, the first thing I want you to know is that, you know, I love you so much. You've always been my baby. But I've seen you in the last couple of months become somebody I don't know. There's help being offered to you here. I know that this is...

CHRISTINE: I'm not going back to that place. That place was stupid.


CHRISTINE: I knew I wanted it, but I didn't know it was going to come to me like that. I knew I wanted to quit drinking.

KING: Is there a key, Jeff, to overcoming the resistance?

VANVONDEREN: Well, that's a really hard question, but you know, I mean, I've had people sit down and say, OK, I'll just pre-answer all the letters, know it, everybody, so bring it on, and then we just start -- but mostly you just have to watch for when you see the person move a little bit. So maybe they'll say no to the first three people and then they'll say, well, what do you mean, get help? Because that's a different answer than just read all the letters, I'm telling you no from the front end.

And they'll say, well, why 30 days? And they start giving you indications that they want more information about it. But mostly, it's that people are tired. It's a very tiring life to live, spinning plates, keeping all the stories straight. And I've done interventions where we walked in the door and the person said, "what took you so long?" I mean, because it wasn't just the family that knew that we needed to get from point A to point B, but it's the person who knows -- you knew on the show. I need to get from point A to point B, but I just don't know how to do it. And then everybody shows up, and we get it done.

KING: How long are you sober now?

CHRISTINE: I'm going on 94 days sober.

KING: Congratulations. Do you have a desire to take a drink?


KING: You don't?

CHRISTINE: No. It scares me to death.

KING: We'll take a look now at Christine's moment of decision at her intervention. Remember, this show will have a big wind-up on Sunday night, when they catch up with everybody, and see how they're doing. Watch Christine.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Christine, will you please accept this incredible opportunity at one of the best treatment centers available? Girl, this can be the first day of the rest of your and your family's life.

CHRISTINE: Yeah, but my son? I'm going to be away from my son?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's going to be taken care of. He's going to be taken care of.

CHRISTINE: Did you know about this? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You haven't answered their question, Christine.

CHRISTINE: Yes, yes, yes, please take me! But don't take me away from my son.



KING: That's got to be scary, though.

CHRISTINE: It was scary.

KING: Who took care of the boy?

CHRISTINE: My husband.

KING: He supported you through all this.

CHRISTINE: Yeah, completely.

KING: Where were you taken?

CHRISTINE: Pacific Hills treatment center in Capistrano Beach.

KING: Was it tough right away (ph)?

CHRISTINE: I'm sorry?

KING: Was it tough to get through?

CHRISTINE: Actually, it was really hard, but it came to making decisions if I really wanted it, they were there with the help to offer.

KING: You're not in prison. You could walk out.

CHRISTINE: Exactly. So it's really -- if I really wanted it, they were there to offer all the help I could get. The counseling, the learning more about sobriety, learning more about the disease. So it was being offered.

KING: Did you ever feel used by the program?


KING: That it was a television show, that you were kind of like a prop?

CHRISTINE: For about a second, I did. That's when the intervention happened. But they could use me any way they want. I'm sober. Basically, that's -- they gave me my life back.

KING: It's realization, right? Intervention is that other people care about you, but it's tough love, right?


KING: Is the hackneyed expression.

VANVONDEREN: Yeah, it is, and you know, in the beginning, most people who go to rehab, whether it's because of an intervention or any other reason, don't go for the right reason. People aren't walking down the street one day and go, oh, my life sucks, I'll go get help. I mean, they don't want to hear what the judge is going to say, they don't want to hear what their husband is going to say. You know, they do a preemptive strike, I'll go and make you happy.

And when that happens, the inclination of the other person is to say, no, you need to go for yourself. And of course they need to go for themselves, but the more important thing is, if they stay for themselves. So they can go because they want to make the people happy, or they want to go because they want to do a preemptive strike on the judge's declaration next week. But if they stay for themselves, that's when they start to get better, and that's what you described, even.

KING: Have women recognized you from the show now?

CHRISTINE: Actually, I had two girls come up to me at the actual treatment center, and basically said, "I'm here because of you." And that was just powerful for me, exactly what I would like to see come out of this.

VANVONDEREN: Because what's happening is that the show is doing interventions, you know. Right after the first episode of the show, you know, a couple with a little baby walked into the treatment center, where the client on the show had gone, and he checked himself in. And he said, you know, if she can do it, I can do it, too. So it isn't just, you know, interventionists doing interventions. Now, the show itself is intervening, and that's bigger than that first idea I had, Larry, where you know, it would be nice if people could find out about interventions. Now, the show is actually doing it.

KING: Great idea. Is there a moment in rehab where you feel you've turned the corner?

CHRISTINE: Yeah, there was. I had gone for my 60 days. I was going home, and they gave me the option to stay another 30 days. No one was telling me to stay, but it was really all up to me, and I could have gone home, but I really took the treatment that was being offered.

KING: That's great. Let me get a break and come back and reassemble the whole panel. This is an important show, "Intervention" on A&E. Don't go away.


CHRISTINE: Oh, I'm feeling great. Honestly, as soon as I wake up, I look forward to today. It's -- I love it. I love my sobriety. That's a big word right now, sober. Never knew it. Never knew it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know what our future holds. We take it day by day, and hopefully it's -- it's going to be a good future. That's what it is!




MATT: I was a liar, a cheat and a thief, and now I'm trusted with products. I have the keys to a store. I operate cash registers, and it just feels good to be trusted. That's all.


KING: We've assembled the entire panel from A&E's "Intervention." Jeff Vanvonderen, the interventionist, is with us, and from left to right is Sara, Matt, Christine and Gabe.

We didn't get to ask Gabe, what are you doing now?

GABE: Right now, I'm going back to my science roots a little bit, doing some consulting for a dentist, doing some medical writing, and I'm going to start taking a page out of Sara's book and educating some people about what happened to me, and that gambling is only fun when it's a game. You know, when it stops being a game, it's not fun.

KING: Sara, how do you feel when you hear the other stories?

SARA: You know, I've learned a lot from everybody's story and I'm just really glad to see that everybody is doing really good. And It was hard to watch everybody's story. I mean, I could relate to them. You know, she's a mothers of a little boy and I'm a mother of a little girl and you know, Matt and I have had a lot of similar things. And you know, I was very close with my family as Matt was close to his family, or excuse me, Gabe. So --

KING: Matt, what have you learned watching the others?

MATT: You know, I came into recovery thinking I was different from everybody else, you know, I was a unique case, but --

KING: There's no one like me.

MATT: There's no one like me. Yes, but you know, everybody's -- we all have different stories, but they're all similar. You can find similarities and --

KING: Christine, how do you feel?

CHRISTINE: I feel the whole experience was a gift, really. I didn't think there was a chance for me. I thought I would die an alcoholic. I am an alcoholic, but I'm in recovery.

KING: You'll always be an alcoholic, right?

CHRISTINE: Yes. I'll always be an alcoholic.

KING: How did the intervention work, Gabe, for you? Was it -- how'd they get you out of there, the way you were acting?

GABE: Well, I wanted to go, but I felt kind of bamboozled, because they were telling me I had to go right then and there and that's part of the technique.

I mean, I didn't realize it at the time. I said, "yes, I'll go. Give me some time to arrange my affairs, collect my thoughts, deal with all the fallout that was created from the gambling." I mean, that's the thing about gambling, first there's the blast. It's like an atomic bomb and then there's fallout.

KING: How did you pay off all the money you owed or you still owe?

GABE: Still working on it. I've had some help from my parents. I've done some work. But you know, anybody who says, "oh, we're going to stop helping you," cut the cord, whatever -- if my parents had not helped me at all, I'd be dead.

KING: You go to A.A., Christine?

CHRISTINE: Every day.

KING: Every day?

CHRISTINE: Every day. I will have to go to A.A. every day for the rest of my life.

KING: Even though you had the program.


KING: You're still -- the program is not an A.A. program is it?

CHRISTINE: The program, the treatment or ?

KING: Yes. The treatment center.

CHRISTINE: It's all centered around A.A.

KING: What do you do, Matt? Do you go to rehab places?

MATT: I go to A.A. meeting at least every day. Two if I can. Actually, I've seen Christine at a few meetings. We hang out.

KING: It's not A.A for you two, then? You're not anonymous.

CHRISTINE: Not anymore.

KING: Sara, what -- do you go? SARA: Yes. I go to meetings at the church and stuff and doing like the public speaking with the sheriff's department also helps me do service and to kind of give back to what I've taken from everybody.

KING: Do Gamblers Anonymous meet like Alcoholics Anonymous?

GABE: Yes. They have a similar program that's 12-step based. When I was in rehab, we went to a G.A. meeting every night.

KING: Now how often?

GABE: Now, not as much as I should, but my sponsor is good and she keeps telling me I got to get to a meeting. So, I better go soon.

KING: When we come back, we'll ask Jeff how to spot if your child has a problem in our remaining moments. Don't go away.


GABE: I'm trying to be optimistic, you know? I mean, I'm not saying I'm in the best emotional state. I've been a lot worse, for whatever that's worth.


KING: OK, Jeff, what are things to look for, if you're possible of any kind of addiction, at home?

VANVONDEREN: Well, yes. That would be hard to say, because there's a mixture of addictions here, so there would be different things, but...

KING: Any...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... You guys can correct me, you know, if I say something wrong here, but you know, if you had, had a conversation with any of these folks prior to all this and predicted what it would look like at its baddest (SIC) hour, none of them would have believed it, because they are living inconsistent with their value system.

And instead of correcting the behavior, they medicate by doing what they're doing and so if you have somebody in your family that you're watching live inconsistent with their value system; if you're seeing somebody who is willing to pay prices and compromises in order to keep doing a certain behavior.

You know, with drinking, if you have a drinking-related problem, somebody who does not have a problem with drinking, will adjust that to eliminate whatever the drinking cost and somebody who does have a problem with alcohol, for instance, what they would do is they will adjust their life to fit with their drinking and if they have a gambling problem they adjust their life to fit with the gambling and if they have a problem with meth, they adjust their life.

You know, if you had said to Sara, you will risk losing your child in five years from now, she wouldn't have believed it, but that was one of the adjustments that she made to keep mood altering. When you see people that you love and that know are doing that, don't talk yourself out of it. Take it seriously and break the silence down and start talking about it, because the hallmark symptom of this whole thing is denial and denial spreads through families and stuff and as soon as people start talking about it and quit treating talking about it like its a problem.

KING: One of the definitions of insanity is repeating the same action, expecting a different result.


KING: Technically, they fit that category.

GABE: We're all insane.

KING: Right?

GABE: Yes.

KING: This won't happen this time.

VANVONDEREN: Right. It won't happen this time. And you know, don't talk yourself out of doing something about it. You know, one- out-of-ten people that call me about a problem, one out of ten actually do something.

KING: Yes, because they don't want to be tough and they don't want to offend.

VANVONDEREN: Well, the phone call is like it's terrible, it's terrible you know and then I say, "well, sounds really terrible. Let's do something." And then it's not that bad.

KING: Thank you all very much. I wish you nothing but the best of luck. We'd like to, maybe six months down the road, do a follow- up to A&E's follow-up. How do you like that?

This Sunday night, all the original episodes. A&E Sunday August 21st we'll revisit some of the people gone into rehab to see how they're doing now. We thank Jeff Vanvonderen of "The Interventionist" and who's been the facilitator on A&E's "Intervention." We thank Sara, Matt, Cristine and Gabe. "NEWSNIGHT" is next. Good night.


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