Watching Intervention isn't something I make a habit out of. It's not as though there's anything uplifting or positive about the program, most of the time. Typically, the narrative arc goes something like this: 1) we meet an addict, watch them get high, see testimonials from friends and family, 2) learn about promise, talents, and self squandered by extreme drug abuse, 3) get a sense of how the addict's destructive spiral affects loved ones, 4) an intervention is staged, usually with ultimatums given, ala "if you don't go to this rebab clinic that we're offering to pay for, you're totally dead to us, that's it," 5) the addict goes to rehab, and 6) addict recovers and lives happily-ever-after, relapses, or some variation of those two outcomes.
The handful of episodes I've caught have centered, mostly, on alcoholics - not surprising, because alcohol is legal and easy to get. Of course, there are also meth heads, speed freaks, coke fiends, and so on.
But earlier this week, Intervention profiled a young woman addicted - really addicted - to fucking inhalants - the chemical, compressed air stuff that you're supposed to use to dust electronics. Her name? Allison. She'd buy 8 to 10 cans of this stuff and just suck one can after another down in her apartment, eyes all googly, frame slight and fragile from lack of sustenance, body crumpled on a couch. Her on-camera interviews and testimonials were difficult to watch, because she was so gone that focusing in was impossible. She was petulant, sarcastic, stubborn, and bent on self-annihilation as a means of getting back at a mother who she felt had been a terrible parent and a father who'd split the scene years before. (Allison and her sister had been sexually abused as children, but the abuser got off scot-free due to a lack of evidence.) She carried on an affair with a married father of two who footed her various bills; she didn't work.
(In the end she was fine, but that isn't the point.)
I was transfixed. I was sickened. I had to watch the whole thing. I said to Alecia, who was watching with me: "How does she have any brain cells left? She should be a vegetable. Holy shit."
I've known people who've abused this drug - and other drugs, besides - and have seen what a small dose can cause. The idea of living on inhalants, though, that's just in a league of self-loathing that's beyond my comprehension.
I couldn't believe that nobody - but nobody - at the Wal-Mart or whatever other massive superstore she shopped at could be bothered to report her.
There's no reason that anybody needs to purchase 10 cans of compressed air every single day.
The why of this isn't in question. When I was younger, I couldn't quite grasp why so many adults had heart attacks and addictions, why they fell apart. Life, I was sure, couldn't be that overwhelming and crushing and terrible. No way. Then I grew up, and I got it. The sheer volume of worries, of details, of hurts, of burdens, and minor emergencies that adult life hurls our way is nothing short of formidable; it's no surprise that so many of us want to obliterate ourselves, to ward off the constant sense of nausea that's perpetually on the brink of consuming us whole.
Ah, yes. Friends.
There were a great many things that disturbed me about this episode of Intervention, but the one that really got me, that almost made me tear up, was this: Allison didn't have one single fucking friend show up at her intervention. Not one. If she'd had any, they'd written her off after she got hooked on inhalants in college - prior to having to ditch her pre-med track and settling for a Music degree. It just left me with an empty feeling inside. Allison struck me as an especially selfish young woman, but seriously, for real, not one compadre could hang in there with her, steer her onto a healthier path, kidnap her for a clean-living weekend in Borneo? Really? Jesus.