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Episode 249: Tom and John (Family of Addicts)

Season 19. Episode 7


Tom and John
Age: 23 and 21
Location: Paterson, New Jersey
Addiction: Heroin

What’s Memorable: Wow. That was freaking intense. This was about so much more than the brothers. 6 people went to treatment! It’s definitely one of the most complicated episodes of the show ever, and I would like to that say it’s also one of the best episodes ever because it almost is, but I can’t get over the fact that the producers didn’t step in when cousin Sean shot up his uncle. They knew that he was asking for a rig earlier after a year of shaky sobriety, why did they let him do that without saying anything? I don’t like that, not at all. The camera was right there in the room, did the operator not see that John gave him a bag and rig? Why didn’t they tell Donna what they heard him say so they could try to prevent the inevitable relapse? I mean I’m sure there’s stuff we don’t know here, but it sure seemed like the producers were almost willing Sean to relapse on camera and that makes me really uncomfortable. I feel like there are some instances where the producers of this show have some level of responsibility beyond just documentation, and this is one of those situations. Saying something would have been the right thing to do. It’s possible Sean would have relapsed even if he wasn’t involved in this intervention, but I don’t know, it sure seemed to be what triggered him right back into using. To be honest, Sean’s craving and relapse makes me sadder than anything else I saw on this episode, and there was plenty to be sad about here. All that said, Donna was amazing yet again, there were so many shocking reveals and suspenseful cliffhangers, so many people in pain desperate for help who were visibly relieved to finally get it, and holy crap, Paterson New Jersey needs treatment. I was hoping to hear that at the end they all uprooted and moved to some other place because going back to that city isn’t gonna be good for anyone. Damn, that was one crazy episode.

Official Synopsis: John and Tom are brothers who spent their formative years working with their parents and grandparents in a successful business. While they appeared to be a close knit, hard-working family, a dark family history of drug abuse entrapped the brothers. Their mother realizes that without help, all could be lost.

Date Aired: May 2019
Interventionist: Donna

Categories: Addicted Parent, Childhood Violence, Donna, Heroin, Most Disturbing Episodes, Most Unforgettable Episodes, Season 19


47 Responses to “Episode 249: Tom and John (Family of Addicts)”

  1. Jesus Christ. That was an emotional roller coaster the whole way through. Was so sad about Sean Getting sucked back in after being clean for a year. Also for John jr.

    Posted by Courtney | May 15, 2019, 3:01 am
    • How can 1 bag of dope make someone dope sick? I’m talking about Sean. Something doesn’t add up with this

      Posted by Cathleen | June 17, 2019, 10:18 am
      • He was on medication-assisted treatment (suboxone, or the “subs” he muttered about to Donna) when he shot the heroin, so he evidently got sick, rather than high.

        Posted by L. S. King | July 2, 2019, 7:09 pm
        • The point is that he had to have been doing a lot more than what was told/shown on tv.

          Posted by Kitty Katt | July 10, 2019, 8:46 pm
  2. Holy shit. What a doozy of an episode. I hope everyone can stay clean and that John Jr was able to ultimately get himself on the right track. The most memorable part of this episode for me is the very end with the cousin Sean. I thought he was going to end up relapsing because he was asking Linda if she had a spike cause he hadn’t dont one in a long time. This intervention was great for everyone but him. Something that was meant to be helpful ended up being the worst thing for him to go to.

    Posted by Toreigh | May 15, 2019, 9:20 am
    • I completely agree. It is sinful that they asked Sean to be the one to go back to the places where he once used to try and find his cousins. That alone probably triggered him. And then to handle and open the bag of heroin and shoot up his uncle???? Crazy and completely irresponsible of the Intervention producers. That poor kid.

      Posted by KDD | July 23, 2019, 3:10 pm
  3. yeah, there was way too much going on with that family for that intervention to not be messy for at least one person.

    SO much going on…

    …the grandmother on oxygen AND vaping.

    …even though the mother was acting like no one really knew about her heroin use, the cousin (who had a year’s sobriety) got her alone and pretty much the first thing he asked her was inf she had a needle, so he obviously knew she was using.

    …no one on the intervention team stepped in and suggested someone other than the cousin put together the father’s shot???

    …did anyone on the intervention team try to arrange for some sort of detox/rehab/therapy for the younger brother’s girlfriend? it seemed pretty obvious that he’d use needing to be with her as an excuse to bail from rehab.

    on the documentary geek side of things, i thought this episode was EXCELLENT! well structured and decently shot. really gave us a good look at donna and how she manages the process.

    Posted by beelove | May 15, 2019, 10:48 am
    • I totally agree. There are a lot of great episodes of “Intervention,” but this is the first that felt like a true documentary with its story building and attention to detail. I’ve always really liked Donna, but now I have even more respect for her for untangling this very complicated case involving so many members of one family. By the end, I felt really sad for Christa, John Sr.’s sister. For decades she’d been the forgotten good kid and in the end, it was her son who seemed to be facing the most uncertain future after his relapse, which was likely caused by being involved in the multiple family interventions he was asked to help with.

      Posted by Brooks | May 22, 2019, 10:31 am
    • The mother also knew the cousin was still using when everyone else thought he was clean for a year now,

      Posted by Kitty Katt | July 3, 2019, 1:32 am
  4. This as an adult male had me in tears… my god. You’re right, so much right documentary wise but that preachy “sober” but unrelentingly jonesing cousin could have derailed things even more… wow

    Posted by Wil | May 15, 2019, 11:52 am
    • Lemme be more clear: I meant he was clean but his recovery was not at the point I suppose mine is now but I’ve been there… and I think that was unprofessional actually they kept sticking him in those situations and Donna was not even aware the FIRST meetup that he was jonesing and caught on camera speaking about it… Poor family. Such a tortured family…

      Posted by Wil | May 15, 2019, 11:58 am
      • What I don’t seem to understand is why didn’t the Film Crew report that to her. They had a need to report every-time Donna and Sean went to look for the boys? This is the first time – I’ve watched this show and scene why the FC/ producer gets involved and reports to the interventionist. In any case, this is sad and hopefully the family finds healing.

        Posted by FILB | May 24, 2019, 9:27 pm
        • I couldn’t understand that either. I thought for sure Donna was going to confront him after being told like they normally do. Not sure what happened here.

          Posted by Kitty Katt | May 26, 2019, 7:30 pm
  5. Also, by far the most interesting episode I’ve ever seen. And Donna really shined. She had to be there, I just wish the camera crew had been more vocal about the cousin

    Posted by Wil | May 15, 2019, 12:07 pm
  6. Donna completely sabaroged Sean’s recovery! Why would you take someone 1 year sober into their old neighorhood to run around and find aomeone, and then have them monitor their uncle’s using at the intervention?

    Posted by anna | May 16, 2019, 11:08 am
  7. I agree that Sean did appear to be on something…look at his eyes in several scenes prior to the steps of the intervention. Still, bad call taking him into Paterson, involving him in the search, letting him go out of the car unaccompanied, leaving him alone with his Uncle…bad, bad, bad calls. I like Donna, but didn’t she invited him to be the one to take her around Paterson? The mom was already a known active and it seems she would have been more appropriate. Even without being a specialist, knowing that addiction has really be the head of that family and the cause of such devastation is enough of a red flag that the show should have been vigilant that no member of the family be put into those situations without physical, in-person accountability. I share the disappointed in the show for the Sean situation and hope it wasn’t for ratings.

    Posted by MommaNinja | May 17, 2019, 12:16 am
    • She invited him because he knew he was already high. If you get high once, you don’t panic about going through withdrawals. Thats not how it works. So he was lying about being clean the whole time.

      Posted by jojo | May 17, 2019, 3:20 pm
  8. This was a powerful episode and maybe some of the best content Intervention has put out so far! I appreciate them experimenting with the format of the show, but I’m glad they are mostly back to the “old” way of doing episodes with some added elements. With the opioid epidemic raging like wildfire, this show is needed more than ever.

    Posted by MB | May 17, 2019, 12:22 pm
  9. Does anyone know the final outcome of the family’s sobriety? This was a riveting episode. I could not believe that John gave that dope to Sean. Hadn’t it caused enough misery for his family? He really did not know how to be a father or protector. I hope those boys are ok. They really didn’t have a chance. Every adult in their lives was some kind of an addict except Christa.

    Posted by patricia mcmahon | May 17, 2019, 8:39 pm
  10. Why did they even let Sean go into the bathroom with John Sr?

    Posted by CC | May 17, 2019, 9:08 pm
  11. I’m also not sure about Sean. Even if he wasn’t sober it was a bad call from Donna to lure him to use again and then offer him an opportunity.
    I’m a social worker and personally I’m all for open communication. They could have talked it through in private or if that doesn’t work, with the family. But not this way. They could have intervened when he asked the mom on camera if she has a spike. That could have been a chance to take him aside and talk. If I’d do this to a client I’d betray him and I don’t think that’s right.

    Anyway…this family has so many layers of different problems that I’m surprised even 2 of them could stay sober. I hope they’ll be alright although it seems unlikely.

    Posted by A | May 18, 2019, 1:24 am
    • He wasn’t Donna’s client to begin with. Also, it was no different than any other episodes where you find out someone else has a problem within the family and is called out.

      Posted by Kitty Katt | July 3, 2019, 1:49 am
  12. in general, the film crew (FC) is not supposed to intervene unless for safety reasons, as seen with Alicia the NY heroin addict, who shot up before the FC arrived and damn near caused two accidents because she was nodding. this is common with most television shows, such as LivePD, Dr. Phil etc. i think its because its a “documentary”, and the FC is a “fly on the wall”, simply there to film.

    Posted by cosmicexplosion13 | May 19, 2019, 3:43 pm
  13. very sad episode. the destruction of that family with substance abuse, and poor sean was trying so hard and crazy how he got sucked back in at the end trying to help his family. it was like watching something evil overtaking him before our eyes. was glad to see the dad jonh sr and Tom looking great at the end and poor John jr was back on the street looking bad. keep that family in prayer.

    Posted by msyoung | May 22, 2019, 7:04 am
  14. i knew sean was in trouble when, at the pre-intervention, he and linda were whispering outside while smoking and sean asked her if she had a rig. i’m surprised that, given that conversation, they didn’t offer him treatment right along with the others (at least they did in the end, of course) since clearly he’s showing desire to use. and i’m also surprised that they would ask him to go into places that might trigger him looking for the the father and boys and that they would allow him to help john sr get high at the intervention. like some have said above, he wouldn’t be dopesick after one shot. that doesn’t make sense to me either. lastly, i CANNOT believe john sr would give sean a bag of dope and a needle knowing he’s been sober, that is SO messed up!! soooo slimy.

    Posted by Brooke | June 24, 2019, 7:13 pm
    • Sean wasn’t sober the way he wanted everyone to think. I’m not condoning what John Sr. did but I don’t believe the bag he gave him was the one he relapsed on.

      Posted by Kitty Katt | July 3, 2019, 1:43 am
      • true, i’m sure he wasn’t as sober as he was trying to appear but they didn’t know that. and even if they did, he was *trying* to stay sober and i still don’t think it’s right they kept putting him in situations where there were so many triggers to use. i know i’d have a hard time remaining sober if i were put in that position. i thought the episode implied that he did get high off the bag john sr gave him? idk, it’s been a couple week since i saw the episode and i already can’t remember haha. i have a terrible memory! either way, it was messed up.

        Posted by Brooke | July 10, 2019, 9:30 pm
  15. Sean was clearly on something the first time we saw him sitting in his mother’s living room. His eyelids were sooo heavy

    Posted by Katie | June 29, 2019, 7:40 pm
  16. Has anyone seen any update on the family? Sad that Christina left treatment and no one was able to contact her. Same with Sean relapsing multiple times. Hope the rest are staying clean.

    Posted by j | July 24, 2019, 10:15 am
  17. Does anyone have any updates? I’m wondering as well i watch live rescue and they are in Patterson NJ. On a recent episode they had an over dose call and I could have sworn it looked like the older brother! I’m really hoping it wasn’t but if anyone seen it as well or has an update that would be great!

    Posted by Lauren | July 28, 2019, 12:42 am
  18. I know them personally from being in the streets. I really hope they find the gift of recovery.

    Posted by Bryan Rolstad | August 13, 2019, 12:23 am
  19. Any new updates on the boys or family??

    Posted by Hailey | January 28, 2020, 7:42 pm
  20. I watched this episode after reading the comments and oh my goodness what a mess!! I felt like submitting my family after that. Donna was extremely off the charts amazing! The cousin Sean was definitely using before the intervention I watched him closely too when he was talking to his sister and mom and his eyes he looked soo heavy I recognize that look anywhere. Not to mention his sister was telling signs of him relapsing and he was showing all of them. I felt Christa on a different level because in my family I’m her. John Sr’s parents were extremely enabling when the mom was saying her son was fine when he was only smoking crack I had the same reaction as Donna I was floored!! It was also really sad their business went under that was their future I felt the heartbreak his parents felt also. Also to find out the mom was using too was shocking! She seemed so functional compared to everyone else I was probably more shocked by her use than Sean’s. My heart broke for those boys.. especially John John. He just seemed so lost. Both of them were but I felt like Tom really wanted to get better. I’m really glad they did this episode even tho it was a roller coaster ride it really went in depth about how addiction runs in the family and I love how Donna put that you can’t even take drugs from the doctor safely I know that feeling of being scared at every corner that demon is waiting for you to cross over. The newer seasons have been awesome I really like them. All that being said I really hope everyone continues their path to recovery they all deserve a chance

    Posted by Luna | March 12, 2020, 7:06 am
  21. Also I think everyone here is forgetting that Donna had to deal with 6 addicts instead of just Tom and John, which, as suggested by the title is who the subjects were originally. Just a guess. Maybe only Tom and John were submitted with the hopes of John Sr. Also getting help. I think everyone needs to give her some credit. This episode had a lot of factors that presented themselves as they filmed and why would Donna know about what they were discussing outside? I doubt she’s hooked up to their mics. Not to mention there have been a lot of questionable situations that they continue to film even tho it’s dangerous. They literally talk about it in that “I was there” episode. I kind of think they hid that information for Donna or didn’t present it to her right away and maybe she didn’t want to confront Sean until they did the intervention on everyone else including the boys mom. Donna confronted him right after the intervention to go get help and he refused because he had already used. Also as we saw along the episode Donna was out gathering information on the family most of the time doing her job. I do think it wasn’t a good idea for them to let Sean go into the bathroom with John Sr someone should’ve alerted her so she could intervene right there but I’m sure she was prepping the family for the intervention coming. Like I said i don’t know how she did it with 6 subjects she had a lot to untangle in this family.

    Posted by Luna | March 12, 2020, 7:19 am
  22. Anybody hear any updates on this family? I am originally from Passaic, NJ, so I knew Paterson was a terrible town in the 1980s. Looks like it’s even worse now. Nothing pretty or gentrified in that city!

    Posted by Lisa | August 10, 2020, 2:24 pm
  23. Wow. What an episode! Would love to see if there’s any updates on this family?

    Posted by CG | September 19, 2020, 9:19 pm
  24. Just watched this in the uk. Has anyome got an update on this family fept so invested in this episode?

    Posted by jodi | October 27, 2020, 5:04 am

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