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Season 8, Episode 1

Donna & Josh

Age: Josh is 20, Donna is 47
Location: Covington, Washington
Addiction: Alcohol
What’s memorable:  The very unhealthy mother-son dynamic. The awesome followup.

Official Synopsis: Every day, Donna, 47, and her son, Josh, 20, cause a storm of drinking, fighting, and chaos in the overcrowded home they share with Donna’s sister, mother, and a stable-full of dogs and cats. Raised by alcoholic parents, Donna was exposed to violence and abuse at an early age, and later drank so heavily that she lost custody of her two children. Josh, now an adult, has moved back in with Donna, and they have become drinking buddies. Both mother and son need help desperately to save themselves and to stop the cycle of alcoholism from being passed down to another generation of their family.

Original Air Date: June 2010
Interventionist: Jeff

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  1. Nicole

    Wow they both looked so much better after treatment! Josh’s face was so swollen before. And Donna looked like a whole new woman!

  2. sara

    Harsh episode! The part where Donna’s mother shouts and cries at the camera about how sorry she feels for what happened to her daughter was totally heart-breaking. I think she is really sorry and maybe Donna needs to forgive her.
    Another part that touched me, and this is why I love Jeff, was the balcony scene when Jeff and Donna are smoking and he’s telling her IIRC “you were a psychiatrist and you prescribed this on yourself”, and when she replies that she hurts everyday he says “you can stop that now”, and her face changes completely. He knows exactly what to say. Anytime.
    Great episode.

    1. Sue Ellen Hegstrom

      I like each interventionist that the US shows use…we need more Seth episodes! There’s only one interventionist I don’t care for, and it’s Maureen on the Canadian episodes. She may be a nice person, but to me, she looks smug and I wouldn’t feel comfortable opening up to her.

  3. Cascade

    I have to say as much as I dug Jeff in this episode, what was with that “unconsummated incest” bit? Look, 100% agreed that their relationship was unhealthy and codependent, but “unconsummated incest” seems to be a totally made-up phrase…and honestly seems like a stretch either way. Their relationship was problematic enough on the surface to call the behavior unhealthy without taking that leap. Jeff was AMAZING on the balcony, but still.

    1. A.S.

      I agree, that comment was a little much. I didn’t see anything remotely incestuous going on there.

    2. Sue Ellen Hegstrom

      Emotional incest, maybe? I have heard of “emotional affairs” where people love each other and things get romantic without being physical…maybe it’s similar to that kind of phenomenon.

    3. M

      I disagree, sharing a bed as a grown up, with a grown up man is not right. It is wrong in every sense. There’s nothing wrong with the comment. He’s entitled to use it as it’s true.

      1. ANON

        This is such a backwards discriminatory ideology. Men have control over their bodies, just because they are within a certain distance of another human being doesn’t mean they want to rape/sleep with that person. What an awful thing to think about an entire fifty percent of the population. This is some problematic projection.

    4. Al

      They slept in the same bed….that’s wildly unhealthy

  4. Gord

    Really? After all that Donna has been through, would it be such a stretch to believe that something incestuous was going on between these two? Josh lived through abandonment from his mother, so maybe he was seeking more than just a mother, who knows. It was said in the episode that the two were sharing a bed, after all. Now, hopefully nothing was happening, but who knows? Remember how Donna freaked out when she was told at the intervention that Josh was going away for 90 days?!

    Has anyone here seen the recent documentary “Pervert Park”? There was a woman profiled who was sexually abused as a child, by a family member, and unfortunately carried out the cycle with her own son. Sad to say the dynamic between Donna and Josh reminds me of that…

    Regardless, I sincerely hope both Donna and Josh are doing well and received the therapy they both needed to be happy in life.

    1. A.S.

      Yeah, I know that does happen but I’m just saying, in this case, I didn’t anything get the sense of anything creepy going on between them. Two drunks falling asleep in the same bed, doesn’t mean there is anything inappropriate, just means they’re both wasted.

      1. Genevieve

        two drunks falling asleep in the same bed next to eachother, on purpose, almost every night for months, with a son and his mother(who lost her virginity to step-incest) who he didn’t even see as his mother. the situation itself is inappropriate and unhealthy. the likelihood of their drunk selves doing some weird shit (neither of them had a current announced relationship partner, remember?) is actually pretty likely and extremely disturbing.

        a 20 year old man should not be sleeping in the same bed with his mother. period. end of story.
        night after night for several months??
        the chances that gross stuff wasn’t happening seem slim.

  5. Jordy

    This was Jeff’s best episode. Maybe I just don’t care for some of the addicts in his other episodes, but he handled this perfectly. I love it when the interventionist forces the family to admit their guilt and negligence. In a lot of these episodes, the pain and trauma get glossed over by the family members.”God it was so long ago, get over it already!” They don’t understand the ptsd and need to escape their pain, and for a lot of people, this show sticks up for the addict, and if anything, even if they don’t stay sober, at least there was the intervention. Someone to speak up for the addict. Jeff didn’t let the mom make it about her and how Donna needed to also feel sorry for her, he put the focus on Donna’s pain, which it doesn’t seem like her mother could really grasp. I can totally 100% see why Donna could not forgive her mother- she could barely say she was sorry without trying to make an excuse. Its obvious she felt guilt, but I don’t think I could forgive something like that either. I hope Donna is okay. And I hope Josh didn’t follow in that path. He was just at the tip of his iceberg. Imagine what another year of drinking like that would do to him. He’s lucky he got help when he did. Wish them well

  6. Anonymous

    I can relate to Donna’s pain. When you are a child and you witness domestic violence get molested the effects can be devastating.No child should ever have to go through what Donna went through. I firmly believe that Donna loves her children. Unfortunately, Donna was never taught how to be a good mother. I wonder what was Donna’s Mother’s life like growing up? What did Donna’s mother experience growing up? I think when you don’t feel safe and secure as a child everything gets lost. I do not believe that children should be taken away from there mother. I believe that Josh and his sister need to find it in there hearts somewhere to see there mother’s pain and be there for her. If Donna could be shown real love, maybe things could change? I think that if Josh and his sister could see that Donna didn’t have them to lose them maybe they would feel better. I believe Donna drinks to take away the pain of losing everything!! Who wouldn’t? Some people are strongerand have a much stronger support system. Donna is destined for failure until she gets the unconditional love she never got as a child. In all accounts, it’s such a sad story. I feel Donna’s daughter’s pain. It is genuine! Everyone loses here!! I hope and pray that Donna is Ok? I hope and pray that Donna’s children can find away to forgive there mother and somehow deal with the cards that were dealt. I hope and I pray that Donna’s mother is ok as well.Parents don’t get rule books and children don’t come with them. Monkey See, Monkey Do!!

    1. Sue Ellen Hegstrom

      This is one of the more powerful episodes…and there’s such pain. I’m glad Josh is staying sober but I wish Donna could. I really wish she could.

  7. Carol

    Any updates for Donna or Josh?

  8. Polina

    Wow, here I thought I’d seen every episode & caught this one just now! Would love an update but it doesn’t look like they were found. Looking at the mom’s update, it was pretty obvious to me she’d start up again. Hopefully she has since stopped.

  9. K

    I hope they’re both clean and healthy, I wish them both well.
    https://www.facebook.com/donna.sims.904
    https://www.facebook.com/joshua.ochu

  10. Dahlia

    Usually I hate Jeff’s interventions, but it is undeniable that he freaking nailed Donna’s intervention. Made the mother accept responsibility for everything that had happened. Honestly I never felt anyone in this episode was truly a “bad person” or “at fault” (besides the stepfather, of course). Such an underrated classic.