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POLL: Should wealthy families be given Intervention’s offer of free treatment?

There was some debate in the comments about this topic so I thought I’d do a poll. As we all know, long term treatment can be prohibitively expensive for many people and Intervention offers free treatment to the addicts and often extends it to the people close to them. A lot of the families shown on Intervention are not necessarily poor but are working to middle class and even they would have a hard time paying for the kind of treatment that Intervention offers, even with good insurance.

Costs range from about $18,000 to $60,000 for a 90 day program (higher for the more elite places), and that doesn’t include aftercare and sober living housing.  Even if you do have insurance that covers treatment, you would certainly be subject to the deductible and then move into the out-of-pocket max for the year for co-pays, which averages out nationally to be $6,800 ( What that means is that even with decent insurance, most families would be paying at least $6,800 out of pocket. I don’t know any working class people who could afford that.

Anyway, yeah, it’s expensive. And given that Intervention is offering something that few families could afford to do on their own, maybe the show should focus on the families who actually need that financial help? Giving free treatment to families who don’t need it is not the best use of that valuable resource.

On the other hand, seeing families from varied economic and cultural backgrounds is a good thing – it’s important that people understand that addiction affects people across all classes and that it’s not a poor person’s disease. Also, the addicts from wealthy backgrounds are still in need of help. Just because they can afford to pay for treatment doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t need the intervention, right?

Curious what y’all think. Maybe there’s a compromise?

Should Wealthy Families Be On Intervention?

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All comments.


    As we all know, addiction has nothing to do with wealth, status, color, religion, or gender.
    Treatment is incredibly expensive and at times cost prohibitive.
    With that said, seeing how people of means (or those without) act or react concerning addiction is part of what makes “Intervention” the show that it is.
    That “mix” of people is part of what keeps all of us coming back.
    Please keep the income aspect completely out of the equation.

  2. Amanda

    Yes. Their loved ones suffer just the same. Addiction knows no class or social status.

  3. Elizabeth

    This is an interesting question. Sure – I’d like to see people who couldn’t otherwise afford treatment be able to get it. Honestly what I’d really like to see is that all people get the healthcare they need regardless of their ability to pay. Right now that is not the reality in our country.

    I’m also mindful that parental wealth does not belong to the child. Particularly once the child is an adult, I don’t think the child should be “entitled” to a share of the parent’s assets. I wouldn’t argue that parents who can afford to do so should pay for their children’s homes or cars or any other good or service. So it doesn’t logically follow that parents with money should be somehow obligated to provide treatment for adult children. I think the situation maybe is a little different when the children are still minors and are their parents’ responsibility.

    1. Theresa

      I agree with Elizabeth.

      I’ll also add that I think it would be reasonable for the family to utilize insurance coverage, with Intervention covering the out of pocket expenses ($6800 was quoted).

    2. Dizzy

      I get what you’re saying Elizabeth, but if you think of treatment in terms of necessary medical care, it seems a lot different than just paying for a child’s living expenses. Of course no parents are obligated to pay for their adult child’s rent, but if that person needed surgery and couldn’t afford it, it’s not crazy to expect the parents or other close family would pay for it if they had the money to do so. I don’t know, I guess it probably comes down to whether or not you consider drug treatment to be life-saving medical care. I can see how some people would, some wouldn’t.

  4. Andy

    I think all the subjects on this show should be allowed free treatment regardless of how much money they have.

  5. Kei

    Agree with Douglas here. The variety of addicts and their families that are featured on this show — if not always from the racial/ethnic angle, then certainly from the class-based one, and the urban/rural one — is definitely a big factor as to why Intervention remains such compelling viewing after all these years.

    There’s definitely a moral question about offering that kind of help to a wealthy family (and the thought voting No on the poll crossed my mind because of that), but purely from the perspective of putting their stories on air, I think it’s healthy to remind the audience that even people who are perceived to have their s— together aren’t immune from these kinds of battles.

  6. Laura

    Featuring the wealthy and demonstrating the differences/parallels in how addiction operates on different class levels is one thing. Paying for treatment that a rich family can easily and willingly cover, while thousands more typically rely on sub-par options and the criminal justice system for theirs, is not ethical– not at a time when the wealth gap in our country is the worst it has ever been, and definitely not when race is still a powerful determinant in who gets shafted. I think “Intervention” should offer full and partial economic need-based scholarships that consider social inequities and possibly trauma as factors.

  7. Jorge

    Intervention isn’t a welfare program. It’s a commercial enterprise that includes treatment. There are plenty of people who could use an intervention but A&E picks the ones who are TV friendly. Whether this is fair to the poor or uncharismatic doesn’t matter since Intervention is entertainment.

    1. Theresa

      Good point, Jorge. Also, just because a family appears to be socio-economically stable does not mean that they have the resources to spend 6-10K a month for rehab.

    2. Laura

      it’s certainly operating on the same basic principles as welfare if it’s offering economic assistance to people who claim to be in need. and i’d be awfully interested in hearing what your definition of “tv friendly” means, and whether you think it’s moral or ethical to select people for treatment based on that (unless, of course, those things aren’t as important as ratings, which you’ve suggested by saying it “doesn’t matter”….which is unsettling). “economically stable” is not the same as wealthy, and that’s where the value in partial scholarships would come from.

      1. Jorge

        Intervention’s producers talk about the casting process and how they chose participants. They choose people who are good at talking to cameras and have interesting stories. Paying for treatment is part of compensation for participating in a TV show and not an act of charity.

    3. Janelle

      Unfortunately, Jorge is 100% right. Being “TV friendly” is the primary factor that decides who appears on the show and is offered treatment. The addicts who create the most drama and are most likely to titillate the viewers will be moved to the top of the list.

      And, as many have pointed out, addiction knows no socioeconomic boundaries, so ANYONE who is in need of treatment deserves to be offered it, regardless of how much money they may have.

  8. Janelle

    I remember watching an interview Stevie Nicks (the rock star, herself an addict in recovery) gave a while ago, where she said the best advice she could give an addict is to save their money, because it costs at least $20,000 to go to rehab, and if you don’t go you will die.

    In other words, treatment isn’t cheap. One of the biggest reasons why there are so many addicts in this country is because there aren’t enough treatment centres that can afford to take on indigents. If the government (at all levels) is truly serious about tackling the addiction epidemic in this country, they’re going to have to bite the bullet and get into the treatment business, creating a network of government funded and operated treatment centres, halfway houses and post-treatment programmes, or else indigent addicts will never have the opportunity to go to treatment unless they get lucky and a loved one submits them to “Intervention” and they get picked.

    1. Crystal Diamond

      I agree and those who argue against the government funding are fooling themselves. The government will most likely pay for treatment programs which gives the community hope for a productive citizen or the government will pay for incarceration which typically doesn’t give as much back to society. Anyone interested should look at Portugal’s model of treating addicts. They had a big problem and decided criminalization wasn’t solving the problem. They turned everything upside down decriminalized and put resources into treatment and support systems and had better outcomes. Here in the US the richest—yet sometimes dumbest country in the world keep trying the same thing over and over expecting something different to happen. Just say No got smoked up a long time ago. Sorry my political rant. It just pisses me off that in this country people are dying and suffering every minute when it absolutely doesn’t have to happen! Everyone should be able to have healthcare which includes substance abuse and behavioral health.

  9. Tobie

    It’s way more than that for eating disorder treatment. Thin (HBO documentary) was filmed around 2005, and the girl says something about the facility being $1500 per day. This was a Renfrew facility- in pretty sure Intervention has sent people to Renfrew, and I’m sure most facilities are similar. I know when I was inpatient in a psychiatric hospital for ED, for 7 days, the bill was around $17,000 (thank god for insurance). So, clearly- yes- pay for it, A&E. Vety few people have $100,000+ at their disposal for treatment. A&E can pay its “stars” from other “shows” astronomical amounts to do nothing- it can afford some cash to save someone’s life.

    1. Crystal Diamond

      Tobie, all that needs said in relation to your post is ……AMEN!

  10. Sue Ellen Hegstrom

    With the way health insurance is now, not all plans cover rehabilitation plans, and not all people have HSA accounts. Whether rich or poor, it’s a very expensive process, and “rich” and “poor” are relative terms…varying from person to person. I’ve been hospitalized for mixed episodes (agitation/depression/suicidal ideation) and even with insurance, it’s expensive. I do agree with Janelle’s comment too…more needs to be done to make treatment for addictions of any kind accessible to everyone that needs it.

  11. Kady

    Just a note: A & E DOES NOT pay for treatment for any of the subjects of the documentary. The treatment centers that are shown give what’s called a “scholarship” to the show’s participants in exchange for the advertisement claim of being “one of the best treatment centers in the country”.

    1. Crystal Diamond

      Completely makes sense why they keep flashing the sign to the center and feature the rehab staff talking about their program. Hey it’s worth a little free advertising to save someone’s life.