This documentary is based on the story of Jennifer’s addiction.
With a past that includes a dysfunctional home environment, being diagnosed with eating disorder and an unfulfilled marriage, in the episode 1 of the TV series “Intervention”, season 16, Jennifer turns to pain killers to suppress her pain.
Millions of people struggle with addiction, most of them need help to stop. Dr. Sadaqat Ali, the Project Director of Willing Ways and Sadaqat Clinic explains that addiction is a chronic and often relapsing disease of the brain that causes compulsive drug use and drug seeking despite the harmful consequences to the individual who is addicted and those around him. The initial decision to take drugs may be voluntary for people but the changes that occur over time in the brain challenge the addicted individual’s self-control and hinder their ability to resist intense impulses to taking drugs. Fortunately, treatments are available for helping them counter addiction’s disruptive effects.
You can watch Dr Sadaqat Ali’s video, an eminent addiction psychiatrist, in which he speaks about addiction in Pakistan by clicking on this link
Dr. Sadaqat Ali talks about effects of drug abuse and addiction
Halima Noon is working at Willing Ways as a clinical psychologist. She has done her MS in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Beaconhouse National University, Lahore. Her published MS thesis includes current trends of materialistic values and compulsive buying among young adults. She is a Certified Reiki Practitioner from Ijaz Psychiatric Institute. Halima is also an artist by profession.
Editor: Halima Noon
Jennifer, a 35 year old doting mother of two, explains that she uses pain killers from the minute she wakes up till she sleeps and there is not stopping. She has been addicted to painkillers for seven years.
In countless scenes of the episode, she is injecting herself while her daughter is watching her. Jennifer injects up to15 times a day and believes that she may be killing herself. She explains that she grew up watching her parents fighting. She started developing self esteem issues in school. She reported “If I could get small enough, I could disappear”.
In ninth grade, she was diagnosed as anorexic. She would spit her food out in napkins after eating. She explained that she would vomit and throw up her food into garbage bags in the middle of the night so that no one would know. It got to the point that her father had to take the doors off bathrooms.
When she was 15, her parents placed her in a group home to treat her eating disorder. She remained there for three years. She explained that she felt abandoned by her family. When she came home, she started to rebel and got into cocaine. After causing havoc, she moved in with her aunt and found a job at a coffee shop where she met Doug.
Doug had been in a wheelchair for ten years when he was hit by a car at 19. They got married and Jennifer started flourishing. She did not use drugs and had a control over her eating disorder. In 2009, she gave birth to her daughter Jordyn and three year later, her son Aaron was born. However, when Doug’s mother passed away, they were forced to move. When cleaning up the basement, her family discovered hidden garbage bags of thrown up food. Jennifer explained she wanted to lose the baby fat.
Due to his condition, Doug lives with chronic pain and has been on pain killers. Jennifer started taking his pain killers to suppress her pain. Soon enough, she started injecting. She currently uses as often as every 15 minutes or experiences severe withdrawals.
Doug’s disability payments are the family’s sole source of income. Jennifer spends much of it on her addiction. She also steals things and Doug enables her. He allows her to continue using the money for drugs. At times, she may even spend her children’s clothing and food money on her drugs. She is also having an extra marital affair since three years with a man who is an alcoholic and she supplies him with drugs.
In one of the scenes of the episode, Doug and Jennifer are quarreling in front of their daughter. Jennifer is chewing on her food and throwing up in a garbage bag and injecting at the same time.
Doug has a severe condition in his bones which if left untreated, he could die. But he refuses to get the operation because he does not want to leave the children alone with Jennifer.
In one of the scenes, her brother sees her injecting herself for the very first time and is extremely distraught at what he sees. In another one of the scenes of the episode, Jennifer is throwing up in the bathroom and her daughter is watching her through the door. Her mother reports “It is like a monster taking over.”
The interventionist, Maureen Brine, is one of the featured Interventionists on the documentary series Intervention Canada. Maureen Brine is a psychotherapist, registered Nurse and addictions specialist. She counsels couples who want to heal their relationships. Maureen also works with individuals and families to have more successful lives and relationships with each other.
You can also watch Dr Sadaqat Ali’s video in which he speaks about intervention by clicking on this link
Dr. Sadaqat Ali talks about Dealing with an addict
The pre-intervention included the intervener psycho-educating the family about her disease. In the intervention, the family reads out their heart-rending letters to Jennifer. Together they ask her to get the help that she needs by seeking treatment. Jennifer agrees and is taken to Bellwood Health Services/ Waterstone clinic in Toronto. However she left treatment after two weeks. Doug now has sole care of the children.
It is an unfortunately common but sad situation that occurs in an addiction treatment centre when a patient may leave treatment prematurely believing they are cured. This is known as “the naïve perception of immunity”. Dr Sadaqat Ali explains that being a chronic disease, an ongoing and lasting treatment is needed for addiction. It includes mood and stress management, responsibility and discipline. To support recovery, families have to be honest, firm and avoid enabling the addict.