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S15E11 Jonel

Season 15, Episode 11


Age: 24
Location: Browning, Montana (Blackfeet Indian Reservation)
Addiction: Suboxone

What’s Memorable: The fact that the episode takes place on a reservation.  For one, it’s been a while since we’ve seen anyone profiled who isn’t white. (The racial & cultural diversity on this show is seriously lacking). Second, this episode was a bit of a historical and cultural education about why American Indians have a high rate of addiction and that suboxone is becoming a drug of choice. Third, Jonel’s mother explained that talking about what happens on the reservation to people on the outside is highly discouraged, so for this family to reach out to Intervention and be willing to talk about their family on TV shows how much they love her and need her to get help.  There is a lot of love in this family and it showed. So glad Jonel accepted treatment and stayed there long enough to get solid in her sobriety. That’s just what she needed.

Official Synopsis: Jonel was born into the Blackfeet Indian Tribe in Montana. When she was 9 months pregnant, her boyfriend was tragically killed in a car accident and then she gave birth to her daughter just days after the funeral. Shocked and grief stricken, Jonel began using suboxone and meth – two drugs that are rampant on the reservation. 14 months ago, Jonel gave birth to her second child who was born addicted to suboxone.

Date Aired:  July 2016
Interventionist: D

All comments.

  1. Kismet

    I worked at Glacier National Park in Montana during the summer of 1992….the hotel I worked at was about 10 miles from the Blackfoot Reservation. A lot of the housekeepers came from the Res, and I got to know a few of them. The cycle of poverty and serious abuse among the native families was rampant. There was an AmPm market on the ares, so my roommate and I would frequently go in to shop for snacks for our dorm room. Driving around on the ares was sad….there wasn’t a single house that could be considered nice. It was a mix of falling apart mobile homes and shacks with broken windows, peeling paint, etc.

    Am I the only person who really dislikes Donna? I think she is a terrible interventionist, and her personality is grating. I usually don’t watch her episodes, but this one was interesting to me because of the location. Jonel looked so good in the follow up, but I thought she looked like she might be pregnant…..?

    1. Kismet

      Driving around on the Res, not ares. Autocorrect!

    2. FlamingoLady

      Donna is the worst. I feel like she is very condescending. I think the old school interventionist and Sylvia really know how to talk to people. Like when to be sympathetic, and when to give that tough love when needed. Donna needs to go.

    3. Willow

      I love Donna’s approach and it seems to work well for the people that she deals with. She doesn’t play around and she doesn’t sugarcoat the situation either. This may not be the correct way to deal with all addicts, but in some cases, it gets the job done!

      1. Gloria

        I agree Willow, Donna catches a lot of hate from the intervention forums but she keeps it real, and many addicts don’t live in reality but in their own bubble of enabling and manipulation. Donna lays out consequences and choices for them in a direct and civil manner. She just wants to get these families some help! I can see that in her approach, it’s too bad others don’t. Keep it real Donna! There are intervention viewers out there that DO appreciate what you bring to the show.

      2. Nicole

        Donna’s approach wouldn’t work for me as an addict because the only type of love I’ve only ever had is tough love. But in some cases, specifically Sierra (season 15 episode 2) I think she does great! That episode it was because she had been through a drug psychosis like Sierra. I think she has gotten better at showing kindness, I think it’s always there but sometimes she seems rough. I think she did a decent job on Jonel’s episode. I really miss Seth. He did an excellent job handling messed up family dynamics (Katie) and showing families that trauma is never the victims fault. (Gina, Megan H. and more).

      3. Kristy

        I like Donna as well. She’s willing to do what it takes. She also gets a lot of the addicts that are worse off so I can see where she has to be more extreme.

    4. dinebau

      Privileged much? My mother grew up there. Many of my family still live there there. Yes poverty is extremely high on the reservation (you don’t live there and you’re not Indian, you don’t get to call it the “Rez”), but there are plenty of nice, if humble, homes there. We deal with enough stereotype already without you adding to it with your condescending ignorance. All races and ethnicities deal with poverty and addiction, it’s just not typical for other ‘minorities’ to be pointedly isolated, separated, and remain under a microscope for 250 years.

      1. kitty katt

        She didn’t call it the REZ but instead said RES….shortened for Reservation.

      2. Courtney

        I had a friend on Facebook that grew up on a reservation in Arizona and he told me life was rough for him as a child. He said the the homes are falling apart, the school he went to wasn’t much better and a lot of Native Americans would resort to drinking hair spray to get high off the alcohol content in it. He said a lot of people resort to taking drugs, drinking and suicide because they’re told from day one that they don’t amount to anything and that they’ll live on the reservation forever. Last time I spoke to him, he was working his butt off as a cook in a grocery store and was saving up to move out and be with his girlfriend near the city. I haven’t heard from him since in almost 7 years. I really hope he’s okay.

    5. Jennifer

      I can’t stand Donna. I like Candy, Jeff and Ken. I haven’t seen too much of Sylvia, but she seems like a sweet, caring person. I am in recovery as well and Donna would put me off and I would become defensive and say F this. I hope Jonel can stay in recovery, her little girl was hurting so much.

    6. Hector

      Donna is great! I wasn’t sure about her at the very beginning but over the seasons I’ve grown to adore her.

  2. Tegan

    I cried during the actual intervention when family brought up how she hadn’t dealt with the boyfriend’s death and she lost it. She is still clearly so in love with him. Just heartbreaking 🙁 So glad to see she not only is sober and living off the reservation, but ditched that controlling current boyfriend. Tweeking aside, he was so controlling and bad for her.

  3. Gloria

    Jonel’s children are so loveable.. When her daughter was excited to see her mom because she missed her a whole bunch.. She’s so precious. Hope Jonel gets to be in their lives more by staying healthy. Best wishes for Jonel and family.

  4. Madeline

    Did anyone else catch who was part of the team that greeted Jonel when she arrived at A Sober Way Home??! LATISHA! That is the second time I have seen a previous success story from Intervention greeting a new arrival. In another intervention I saw Phillip greet someone but I don’t remember who. I wish they would highlight that.

    Watch this episode again, when Jonel gets to rehab. Very cool!

    Here is Latisha’s episode.

  5. Elvee

    I love that too! In s14, a sober Samantha met Mindie going into treatment. Their eps are back to back (s14 ep 28-29 per Hulu)

    An interesting show would be one where the intervenee “carries the message” on the next episode. Probably a logistical nightmare though

  6. Native Blood

    I watched the episode with Jonel and I didn’t like the way she uses somebody’s death as an excuse to do alcohol and drugs!!!I’m also native american and that was pure disrespect we are supposed to honor and respect the loved ones that go home to the spirit world!!! I use suboxone myself and it saved and changed my life for the better!!! Jonel’s story gives suboxone a very bad name, she portrays our people in a bad light because most of us are NOT like that!!! Anybody that is prescribed suboxone needs to realize what kind of miracles it can do for those who would otherwise haved remained an addict. Miracle is the only way I could describe suboxone

    1. Nicole

      I feel the same way about methadone. It’s been a miracle for me.

  7. Prbeauty

    Anyways any news on her?

  8. Kris

    Just watched this episode and its so true how there is so much drug abuse in reserves these days. Im from a canada reservation and we do have a suboxine treatment program here but people still abuse drugs even when on the program. They take other drugs such as gabbepentins (which is the big “other” drug here) and they also abuse Suboxone. I find it so sad and i see it everyday. Im slowly starting to see meth come into my community, I really hope that drug does not flood our community. A few years ago, opiods was highly abused and it was horrible. People were stealing, asking around for money, spending thier child tax on drugs, selling drugs to feed thier own addicions, and i can go on and on. I dont think she portrayed us aboriginals in a bad light, they are speaking up and we need to stop being silent about whats going on in our reserves. Anyways, i loved this episode and it made me think alot. I really hope shes keeping sober, rooting for her!

  9. Shelby Lee

    I dig Donna – I think she’s great. Different approach, yes. But she’s good. Even in the famous ‘Courtney’ episode that everyone was freaking out about – I don’t think she did anything wrong. She’s not my fave (Team Ken Fo Lyfe!!) but she’s proven time and again that she’s good at what she does. Everyone’s cup of tea, or not.

  10. Bambi

    Facebook: Jonel Lee Goings

    Looks like she’s doing well. 🙂

    1. Julie

      Looks like she relapsed. 🙁
      Her mom said to her 2018. For a change to think of her daughters.

  11. Scot hodson

    I’m really confused. Don’t people take suboxone to
    withdrawal from opiates. You don’t get high on it. Do you?

    1. Andy

      I think suboxone is a lot like methadone. It’s purpose it to help withdrawal from opiates but it can be used to get high even though that’s not its purpose.

  12. Matt

    suboxone has nalaxone aka narcan in it along with the buprenorphine. weird that she injects it.

    1. kitty katt

      Since buprenorphine is itself an opioid drug, when you tamper with it (such as crushing the tablets to snort it or dilute it with water and inject it) and abuse it by “taking” enough of it, you will get high.

    2. Paige

      There is Suboxone that has naloxone and Suboxone that doesn’t have it. The patches she is injecting don’t have naloxone in it. We don’t even have those in Canada. (Unless your pregnant .. they used to give you straight Suboxone because the narcan is bad for unborn baby) We have pills that have naloxone in them and you will get sick if you crusb and inject. But she is getting high because she injects and doesn’t out under tongue like prescribed.

  13. Hailey

    As of may 3rd jonel is using again (at least that’s when it was stated on a family member’s facebook). Her and brandon got back together and had a baby girl, looks like they dont have custody of her either unfortunately.


      Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that. I’m a deep diver on Facebook and thought things looked ok….

  14. Meg

    Am I the only one who is really curious about her boyfriend, Brandon? I was very surprised when he started crying and asking to go to treatment as well and it was good to see how excited he was for sobriety. I wanted to see more about his recovery journey and how he’s doing now!

    1. Jordy

      I agree. He couldn’t have been that terrible. He was caught up in the cycle, but beneath it he really cared for Jonel, and himself. He saw the chance, and luckily he took it.

      This was a great episode. Best of luck to all involved.

  15. Kitty Katt

    Based on the comments made on FB by her mother, not only is Jonel battling her addiction but so is her brother and his wife.

    So sad.

  16. Toreigh

    I felt so saddened for her hearing of how she lost what was probably the love of her life, and then bringing their child into this world just days after his passing. I couldn’t imagine being in that circumstance. We are all human and all have different coping mechanisms, I can see why she went to self medicating, though I feel that taking care of the child we shared and preserving her fathers memory the best I could would be a better route. To each their own, and I hope her and her children are doing well and are healthy.

  17. Brooke

    i took suboxone for many years and i thought if you shot suboxone, the naloxone would block the opiate effect? i just looked it up again to be sure and what i’m reading is confirming that. i’m confused.

    1. Kitty Katt

      Google Suboxone Addiction

      1. Brooke

        i have, but it makes no sense to me because supposedly crushing or dissolving the pills/film activates the naloxone, which blocks any high you might get. i understand getting high from buprenorphine, but not when you throw in the naloxone.

    2. Jim

      Totally agree, how do you get high injecting suboxone, subutex maybe as it doesn’t contain naloxone… Don’t get it…

  18. Luna

    Another thread about hating Donna. Feels like judgement based on maybe people who haven’t had to deal with addicts and I don’t see anyone being hard on Jeff or Ken because they take the same approach Donna does. I’m sure the show tries to match the interventionist with subjects they feel they can get through to. Some need a more aggressive “cut the bullshit” approach and Donna gives us that. I don’t see a lot of people here giving Donna credit she deserves in case you guys didn’t notice, she’s called in it seems when the subjects are either completely unmanageable within their families or specializes in her recovery (meth) and the she is the one I’ve seen do the most dual interventions. She is amazing. Also being a child of a heroin addict I know sometimes you have to be Confrontational sometimes to get your point across.

    Also wanted to add that I was interested in Jonel’s story also because she lived on a reservation, I had never heard of names of reservations before this episode (ignorant I know) but once I did I found Pine Ridge reservation that also has a high rate of poverty and addiction. I constantly donate things or buy via amazon to send to the reservation to help. There is an organization called friendsofpineridge and they are in desperate need of things they live 80 miles from the closest big grocery store it’s just terrible conditions I don’t understand how it isn’t a big deal to anyone including DHS. I’m not sure what the laws are but I believe they do need some funding to help the overall issue.

    1. Richard

      There is a law. You cannot be liked by intervention fans unless you say, “they love you like crazy.” And use the same script every episode. People like the familiar.

      Donna gets way more hate than she deserves.

  19. Stuey

    I found her Fb page, she has a few but this one is has the most recent posts. Can’t tell if she’s using or sober but she looks happy and hopefully she’s doing well.

    1. Kitty Katt

      She looks good but like you said, I can’t tell if she’s sober or not. I hope she is. It broke my heart when her little girl was crying so hard begging her mother to stay the night and was barely able to catch her breath.

      I like Jonel and can see how easy it was for her to fall under the spell of addiction. Considering what her situation was and the environment around her, I would be surprised how she didn’t turn to drugs to cope. Hopefully, she is clean and sober and enjoying her family. She deserves it.

  20. Xavi

    Her mother posted this on December 23, 2020

    “Me and my baby girl Jonel. I miss her so much….this is the hardest thing ive ever had to do…give her to God. This morning I woke up and read on my page that she wanted to come home. It breaks my heart knowing her addiction once again consumes her and she is homeless. Please keep my daughter in your prayers as we take another run at recovery….personally from experience it has taken me many years to be where I am now and I have full faith …one day my baby will be set free.”

  21. Nivey

    She’s on IG. Her last post was from 2017. It looks like she had another baby girl with the bf featured on the show. No newer posts though. I hope she gets the help she needs. Living on that reservation looked really tough and I pray that she finds her way to peace and happiness.

  22. Missa

    I hope she finds her way…. she seemed so lost in this episode. Is it just me or does anyone else find it strange she never talks about her son?

  23. Maggie

    Looks like a more recent Facebook profile than what was posted above:

    She has three, and this is the only one with an update after 2018.

    Can’t really tell anything from photos of course and the profile is private but she looks happy and much healthier.

    1. Maggie

      As of this time her mother is on her friend list and posts very often about her own recovery and that of her children. Earlier this month (Aug 2022) she posted about two of her three children having made it home to her and the third will make her way home soon. Hopefully Jonel is doing well.

  24. Kristen W.

    I was going to reply to a comment but couldn’t choose which one to reply to. In response to injecting Suboxone. I have been on Suboxone for a little over 10 years now. I guess it’s been 13 years. I’ve been with the same doctor prescribing it to me also. I went through a period where I was abusing meth. Injecting it. So I also started injecting my Suboxone. It was a different feeling you got from shooting it. It’s really not an intense high or anything. It doesn’t last as long when you shoot it rather then the proper way to take it. Placing it under your tongue. I am on the films 8/2. My husband was briefly on subutex. The kind without naloxone. I am no longer an intravenous drug user. I have ruined my veins though. I am very thankful for Suboxone. Many think it is for short term use. But I was an opiate addict for 9ver a decade & I believe if I had been on it short I would have surely went back to pills or went to heroin or the now popular fentanyl & be dead. Suboxone is easier on the system then tons of opiates plus Tylenol but the flaw is the Suboxone is addictive. I am addicted to Suboxone. Even though I am prescribed it I would like to get off it one day but don’t know how & I’m scared. I no longer have any desire for any opiates & have learned to use opiates responsibly if needed for extreme pain after a surgery or something but prefer ibuprofen if possible cause I know the addiction is still there. I’m not in denial about that. Used to be an alcoholic. This year makes 10 years my husband & I have not had a drink. He is also an alcoholic & opiate addict. I grew up with an alcoholic father & watched him drink himself to death & geld his hand while he died at 62 after 40 years of drinking. I now have to watch my brother go through alcoholism & put his son through what he went through. He has always luved at home. Once it was to protect my mom when my dad got out of hand. Now it is him being the abuser. Putting her through what he used to protect her from. Addiction really is a family disease. I don’t know how to live without disfunction. I am glad my & I are free of self destruction like we were & trying to grow as people & raise our son. I hope to help my nephew but it might be lost. Police are called there so often & I feel that they are neglectful for leaving him with his parents after seeing them both so drunk & everything thrown around the place & knowing about the domestic violence.
    I lost my kids over a messy house after calling the squad for my husband & had a no contact order with my 14yr old because I was on Suboxone. Much, much more to that story but CPS is a whole other story for another show.
    #intervention #Jonel #Suboxonesaveslives

  25. Kristen W.

    I wrote out my comment before I finished my Jonel episode. I have read all the other comments & I’m am astounded that nobody else caught it. I think Suboxone was the 3rd of 4 problems with Jonel. 1. Meth 2. The Boyfriend 3. Needles 4. Suboxone. She always doing meth. Any notice the boyfriend always taking her aside telling her she is choosing to do the “documentary” instead of being with him & how he looks at & into the cameras with contempt.
    Best wishes to Jonel, her kids & family 🩶

    1. Kristen W.

      4th problem not 3rd. Oopsies!!! lol