I admit to having mixed feelings about this show, where those spiraling through addictive patterns of destructive behavior are followed by cameras, leading to an 'intervention' moment with family and friends, where they encouraged the loved one to go to rehab... and sometimes success is experienced.
On one hand, I think that some addicts really just need to be kicked in the ass in order to break the cycle. Knowing people care enough to intervene can be a big deal for someone who has lost all consideration for him or herself and motivate them to make a change. It's also helpful for the general populace to understand some of the dynamics involved in situations like this, and for people in those situations to realize they are not alone, after decades of silence on issues such as these.
On the other hand, sometimes these sort of maneuvers can seem to be emotionally manipulative or a form of control that is justified because the loved one's behavior is considered socially wrong.
The moderators seem to have been fairly balanced, considering what they're dealing with (they can facilitate the addict to move toward rehab while preventing the whole thing from degenerating into a bully session), but sometimes passions are just way too high to rein all of that in.
This post is triggered mostly by the episode I happened to see this weekend at a friend's house: The story of Bret, a high-functioning alcoholic whose drinking eventually resulted in the loss of his job and marriage and a breakdown in the relationship with his son and daughter. After watching Bret go through the typical patterns of rationalization and dodging responsibility for his drinking, even after his marriage ends and when his kids are really upset with him, there's a difficult intervention that Bret walks out of after a screaming match in the parking lot, tries to walk home, the family breaks into his house (!) in order to remove his guns in fear he might hurt himself, and then off-camera threatens to get him committed legally to a psych ward, whereupon he agrees to treatment.
The tag on the episode is heart-wrenching: Bret was coughing up blood for a number of months but never got treated for it due to being in denial about his alcoholism, and 108 days after he's been sober, he is diagnosed with Stage IV esophogal cancer (likely due to drinking), comes home for cancer treatment, and three weeks later is dead. The last shots are of the kids talking about their dad and how for at least the last three months of his life, he was their dad again and was involved in their lives, and even if he's gone now, at least he died their dad rather than this drunk stranger. Regardless of whether the situation was handled correctly at all points, it seemed that Bret was definitely making progress in the right direction when he died.
It was extremely personal to me because I am the child of a high-functioning alcoholic myself. I'm surprised my dad is still alive (and in fact if I hadn't forced him to go to the hospital in 2005, he'd be dead now... sometimes I wonder if I made the right decision, because I hate to interfere in people's lives regardless, and he just went right back to drinking all the time after nine months of sobriety... an active choice on his part). He's 70 now, a total creep in terms of the family, nothing has changed for him for 40+ years of drinking, and he's just been waiting to die all those years from his passive suicide. He's been coughing up blood since his 30's and is horrible physical shape; I'm surprised he is still alive, by all rights he should be dead.
(I was pretty teared up watching the kids during this show, and the conversations they had with their dad... particular the son, who was more like I was... the honest, earnest child who wants to understand and acknowledge everyone's reality... and the whole time, I was just amazed by his wisdom at age 11 and his strength of character and ability to perceive multiple perspectives, but at the same time knew it was an unfair, horrible burden for that boy to have to be more of a grownup than anyone else in the family when he was still legitimately a child. It screws you up -- really bad. )
I think I also had an issue with the amount of manipulation on the part of the mother. It was clear she loved her ex, they were high-school sweethearts; and her heart was breaking for her children, who needed their dad; but at the same time, she was stepping beyond those boundaries to try to control her ex's behavior, continuing to hit him with how she was going to take the kids away unless she got help, how he would never see them again and would hate him for the rest of their lives. At some point it stepped from an "informative" expression of love into this desperate desire to MAKE him change. I have no idea what to do with that. Is there any legitimate form of control that someone can present for someone's own good in situations like this? Her ultimate desire was that all the pain could end for herself, her kids, and her ex, she meant well; but she was also pushing to remove his personal choice in the matter, and he was actively responding to that (a lot of his violence response was from feeling set-up, manipulated, and controlled, and so he wasn't listening to anything people were telling him).
Thoughts/Feelings on this or shows like it?