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REALITY TV Show aims to assist drug addicts



Published: Fri, April 8, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



LOS ANGELES TIMES

Desperate parents who allow their offspring to be filmed for reality TV shows sometimes are motivated by financial necessity. When the parents of Alyson, a volatile 27-year-old college dropout living in Texas, started shopping for a rehab they could afford, Alyson needed a drug fix at least every three hours. She said a treatment center referred them to the producers of "Intervention," an A & amp;E show, who subsidize treatment along with some centers involved in the show. A 30-day residential treatment program ranges from $15,000 to $30,000.

Alyson's parents also told her she might help others by participating in a show that would document her addiction. "I was so high at the time, I said, 'Why not?' It sounded like fun to me," she said.

"It was an opportunity to show the country that treatment does work," said Jim Antonowitsch, founder of Oasis Treatment Center in Anaheim, Calif., where Alyson has spent the last seven months. He agreed to pay $20,500 for Alyson to be committed to a 90-day program, as opposed to a shorter one that might not have been effective for someone in her condition, to increase the chances of a "happy ending."

Exploitation?

Later, the idea that she might have been exploited occurred to her, but she became convinced that the producers were genuinely concerned about her and her recovery, Alyson said. No one affiliated with the show ever provided her with drugs, she said. "There were times when they said, 'That's enough. Put the bong down.'"

"I wouldn't suggest TV intervention for everyone," she said. "But intervention is a good idea.

"I've started over with no friends from the past. I don't feel that I'm ever going to go back to that life. I've come too far."

When he screened "Intervention" for the residents of the Oasis house, Antonowitsch said he covered the screen during the unsettling scenes of Alyson smoking crack because they could have triggered cravings in former addicts, including Alyson herself. Even so, some of the footage was disturbing to the recovering addicts.




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