Sunday December 4th 2016

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What The Sopranos taught me about “Interventions”

By Claudiu Revnic

Television series generally have a sketchy and sensationalist way of showing reality. And more often than not it can give you the wrong impression about difficult things that people go through every day. So it is not everyday that a show really gives you insight into something as real and hard-hitting as addiction. And that comes from the most unlikely of sources: the gritty gangster drama The Sopranos.

I think I know what you’re thinking. What can that show teach me apart from how to run an extortion racket? My answer is that it taught me what an intervention is, and about the challenges an addict goes through after rehab.

Addiction affects every family

The addicted character is Christopher Moltisanti, a young lieutenant in Tony Soprano’s criminal organization. Like any mid to late 20 year old he goes through familiar trials and tribulations: proving himself to his family, mentor and colleagues; fighting to get ahead in the pecking order. He is more stressed than the average person and turns to his only comfort: heroin.

The Sopranos was the first series that showed me that heroin addiction is not only for the poor, the homeless or the unsuccessful. Christopher is none of these. In fact, an Italian “wise guy” would be the last person I would imagine shooting heroin into his veins.

People will want to help

Like any other addict he gets to the point where he is no longer in control of his life or his drug use. And those around him start to notice. And irrespective of your line of work, your background or how wretched a human being you think you are, there will always be people that want to help.

So they stage what in rehab terms is called, “an intervention“. An intervention happens when family and friends come together, under the guidance of a former addict, and formally voice their concerns over the addict’s addiction. In this case, Christopher is confronted with his mistakes and told to go into rehab. Like most addicts, he doesn’t admit he has a problem.

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Although the scene descends into chaos, the steps the group follow seem to be based on how a family drug intervention normally works – each member of the group reading from a prepared statement and trying to be non-judgmental. It gave me a valuable insight into how interventions are done and I’m sure the scriptwriters based it on real-life situations. You can see the clip from the TV Show here.

Interventions require professional guidance

The scene was very chilling. In the scene described above, some of Christopher’s colleagues snap and it turns out quite ugly for him. It is an emotional experience for everybody and the scene conveys that in a very poignant way.  Thought of how I would have reacted in front of such a jury: I would have snapped and I’m pretty sure that most people would.

In real life, some family members do get carried away by emotions and things can get out of control. That’s why you must have somebody with experience who can steer the group away from dangers. Still, I wish that interventions were more commonly used. If my grandfather would have had an intervention by his family and peers regarding his alcohol abuse, he would have spared a lot of people a lot of pain.

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About the author: Claudiu Revnic is a writer and blog contributor for Castle Craig Hospital, one of Europe’s leading residential rehab clinics.

Photo credit: Carl Lender

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