Delaware Family Featured Tonight on “Intervention”

“He has a heart of gold. When you look into Chris’ eyes, you can tell he has a very warm heart.”

Chris and Shawn of Pike Creek, Delaware have been together for 15 years. But the “Chris” Shawn fell in love with has since been lost -- His compassion and his warmth drowned in turmoil and heartache.

Chris is an alcoholic.

And on Monday at 8 p.m., we’ll get an intimate glimpse into Chris’ battle with addiction on A&E’s “Intervention."

 “Intervention” documents the lives of addicts on film for all to see. And at the end of each episode, an intervention occurs where he or she is given an ultimatum -- go to rehab or lose the support of family, friends and loved ones.

We sat down with Shawn to hear the story of Chris' addiction, how it affected family and loved ones and about the filming and "reality" of the show.

Q: When did you first notice there was a problem?

“After three years [of dating] I noticed there could be a problem. We got together at a very early age and at that time, we were all at 20, 21-years-old, so the normal thing our group of friends did was go to parties. But as we started to grow out of that, Chris remained at that certain area and we started noticing things. He started to drink a lot more, drinking at odd times of the day and we realized there was a problem.”

Q: What do you think contributed to his addiction?

“Gay marriage played a part in alcoholism because of his emotions. How Chris felt his sister got better treatment because she got married, had kids, had the big house. He felt the fact that he can’t even legally get married caused a lot of turmoil in Chris’ eyes. Watching his sister’s wedding video Chris said, ‘Why can’t I have that? Why can’t I have my day?’

Looking back, alcoholics --  when they really start to develop to their disease -- lose coping skills. Certain things like tragedies, deaths in the family, he just wasn’t able to cope. Alcohol turned into a coping mechanism.”

Q: When Chris would drink how would he behave?

“He would become very argumentative and at times violent. There are so many different personalities that go along with a drunk person, but it was like a Dr. Jekyl/Mr. Hyde type thing, which was very scary.”

Q: Would he apologize the next day or not have a clue what happened?

“Most times when he would wake up the following day he would be hungover and couldn’t even remember the things he said, the things he threw, but other times he did and he was very apologetic.”

Q: How has all of this affected you and Chris’ family?

“His mother would cry herself to sleep at night. She would envision Chris’ funeral.

I suffer from co-dependency and that’s a person who is directly involved with an alcoholic. They become addicted to their alcoholic and Chris was manipulating and would say hurtful things. He would act insane and then next day he would apologize and it would be mistaken for ‘Chris loves me so I’m going to let this go.'

It affected my relationship because I have to live it 24/7. It affected my self-esteem, my courage…I realized his alcoholism was breaking my character down. I developed an eating disorder as a way to cope. These are extremely  normal reactions for someone who is with an alcoholic.”

Q: Why did you contact the show?

“I started watching the show because it was like my own personal therapy and all the people I watched reminded me of Chris. As an act of desperation, I wrote a letter explaining the situation and those kinds of things and they called the very next day. They said out of the hundreds of submissions mine stood out the most and they were interested in the fact we were a committed gay couple, that Chris comes from a huge family and that we struggled for so many years. We sent him to so many rehabs and everything failed.”

Q: What was the taping like? Were they intrusive?

"When they did arrive, they took Chris and me out to dinner to break the ice a bit and they started filming that night. For eight days, cameras in your face from morning to night, but that really depended on Chris’ drinking activity on that day."

Q: Was any of it staged or did they give you directions?

"They followed us and we were to act like no cameras were there. There was no cutting. Nothing is scripted or encouraged and the pain of addiction is very real for us as a family."

Q: So, you would say it isn’t staged in any way?


Q: So, how is Chris now?

"Chris went away for three months to Malibu Horizon and he was doing well there. They wanted to keep him even longer because he took a leadership role. But, unfortunately when an alcoholic comes out of rehab they need a solid program for it to work. When he came home and we reminded him about AA meetings he would come back with ‘I’ve been gone for three months. The last thing I need is you stressing me out about this.’  And we felt like we were walking on eggshells."

"He relapsed very badly, if not worse than before show. We got back with the interventionist and Chris went back into treatment and will be there for another three to four months. He picked himself back up and he’s back in treatment and hopefully he’ll stay in recovery this time. If you don’t follow your program you’ll fail.” 

Q: What do you think about the ethics behind the show? Directors and producers follow around an addict during potentially dangerous times and situations. Some question if producers have a moral obligation to step in and should stop these people. What are your thoughts on that?

"I’m a strong advocate of the show because I lived it. I experienced it. These guys are not about TV at all. They truly do care about the person they are doing the intervention on. I still talk to quite a few of them even now. It’s not about TV. It’s not about ratings, these guys are saving lives and that’s the bottom line. "

Q: What are some of the messages you have for others living with an addict or dealing with addiction themselves?

“Well, some are not comfortable with their sexuality so they turn to the bottle. Don’t turn to addiction. There are healthy choices to get help.

People who are co-dependent need to realize they are just as sick as the alcoholic and they need to stop the manipulation and enforce healthy boundaries. Be willing as a family to come together and enforce a rock bottom [for the addict]…and it’s so hard to do, so hurtful, but until they hit true rock bottom with no gas, no food, no place to live, until they hit it, that addiction will continue.”

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