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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 needle 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

Comments
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Comments

  1. Courtney

    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.

    1. Cathleen

      How can 1 bag of dope make someone dope sick? I’m talking about Sean. Something doesn’t add up with this

      1. L. S. King

        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.

      2. Kitty Katt

        The point is that he had to have been doing a lot more than what was told/shown on tv.

  2. Toreigh

    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.

    1. KDD

      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.

  3. beelove

    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.

    1. Brooks

      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.

    2. Kitty Katt

      The mother also knew the cousin was still using when everyone else thought he was clean for a year now,

  4. Wil

    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

    1. Wil

      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…

      1. FILB

        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.

      2. Kitty Katt

        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.

  5. Wil

    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

  6. anna

    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?

    1. jojo

      Sean was not sober..

      1. Kitty Katt

        I think Donna may have believed he was. Either way, sober or not, I don’t think he should have been there.

  7. MommaNinja

    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.

    1. jojo

      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.

      1. Dizzy

        Interesting theory, could be true. Although if so it seems like they would have made that clear to the audience instead of letting us think they sabotaged him.

      2. JuliePV

        Yep. He isn’t going to need two bags to get well if he just used that single time.

  8. MB

    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.

  9. patricia mcmahon

    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.

  10. CC

    Why did they even let Sean go into the bathroom with John Sr?

  11. A

    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.

    1. Kitty Katt

      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.

  12. cosmicexplosion13

    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.

  13. msyoung

    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.

  14. Brooke

    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.

    1. Kitty Katt

      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.

      1. Brooke

        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.

  15. Katie

    Sean was clearly on something the first time we saw him sitting in his mother’s living room. His eyelids were sooo heavy

  16. j

    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.

    1. Nicole

      Has anyone an update about the whole family? It’s so sad to know nobody stay sober.
      I was so shocked to see that what’s going wrong on the family.
      I hope both stay clean and they are looking forward and have a good and sober life.
      Im really interested about the brothers if they stay sober.

  17. Lauren

    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!

  18. Bryan Rolstad

    I know them personally from being in the streets. I really hope they find the gift of recovery.

    1. Elizabeth Valentine

      Any contact info? Thanks!

  19. Hailey

    Any new updates on the boys or family??

  20. Luna

    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

    1. Natalie

      How can I access this episode?

  21. Luna

    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.

  22. Lisa

    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!

    1. Elena

      Paterson is WAY worse now (2021). The only safe zone that I know of is St Joseph hospital’s campus, maybe the area around the county courthouse and city hall. I have no business down there so I pass through on RT80, Rt20, and Rt46. Thats it.

    2. Courtney

      Don’t know anything about the family but from what I’ve seen, Paterson, NJ is never going to recover and get better. I used to go there almost every weekend for about a year or so to stay over at my now ex-boyfriend’s place since I live like 45 miles away from there. Every time I would get on the connecting train from Secaucus to Paterson a sense of dread would always fill me. Once you step off the train and into Paterson, you pretty much have entered the danger zone. You can’t even walk three feet without having a homeless person, addict, etc coming up to you asking for money for “bus fare”. I saw a meth addict at a bus stop in Paterson with scabs covering her entire face, a lot of them fresh and new. The woman looked oblivious to everything around her and it just made me so sad seeing her in such a state. My now ex lived on a block where drugs were everywhere. I didn’t see the drugs but I would see people doing the exchanges. One time when I wasn’t there, there was a shooting on my ex’s block and a high school graduate was murdered because he went to get drugs and the kid he was with had him shot execution style. I used to hear gunshots every night there and I’m just so thankful that I never have to go to that place again.

  23. CG

    Wow. What an episode! Would love to see if there’s any updates on this family?

    1. J

      does anyone know where to watch this episode?

      1. Avery

        I watched it on Hulu Live. It may be on the regular Hulu subscription but I’m not sure. I’d love to know how everyone is doing now

      2. Angela Day

        I just watched in hulu

      3. Xlio

        It’s available for purchase on Amazon. Also try dailymotion, they have a good selection of Interventions that are typically difficult to find.

      4. Anthony

        Can be watched on A&E app

    2. Anonymous

      No recent updates…but I ran into Tom- let’s say, somewhere in NJ, in late summer/early fall 2019. Spent a little time around him. He relapsed after the show, but was trying to get clean. Unfortunately, at that time, he didn’t have the greatest attitude about- really, anything. That’s the last time I saw him, but I didn’t have a good idea that he wanted recovery, or was solid in his recovery attempt. At the time our paths crossed, I had not yet watched the episode. Actually, I hadn’t watched the show in years, but he mentioned being on it briefly so I downloaded it and watched it. That being said, I don’t have any information on any of the family members…because I had no idea all that had gone on in their lives at the time our paths crossed.

      Anyway, I wish all of them the best. Paterson is rough.

  24. jodi

    Just watched this in the uk. Has anyome got an update on this family fept so invested in this episode?

  25. KatKat

    Does anyone know anything about Johnny, Tom or especially JohnJohn? I‘d love to know… just watched the episode and I feel so bad for them.

  26. simba

    this episode was heartbreaking i wish the best for all of them… i wish i could hug everyone involved.. just hurts my heart so much.. does anyone have any kind of update?

  27. Silva

    This is crazy a 2 hour special. At least 6 addicts in the family if not more and yet no updates… I think ive gotten spoiled with all the updates i got from comments here about all other episodes but can someone please, if you know any updates ….

  28. Gigi

    I have to say that in spite of all the denial and addiction every single person in this episode is very likable and easy to root for. Donna was hard on Grandma and Grandpa and they were tough nuts…I was really proud and impressed by their ability to change their mindset at their age. I would love to know how everybody is doing.

  29. J Spaceman

    The question or debate whether Sean was using previously, is pretty clear to me.
    As former IV H user myself (now 12 years clean), you pick up on certain “tells” for the status of someone’s opiate use. Buprenorphine is an opioid (synthetic) and often won’t exhibit the same tells the way a full agonist user does. The exception would be for a opioid-naive person (someone without a history of use).
    Pinned pupils are a dead giveaway. But an even more telling indication is “voice fry”. It’s very subtle, and if you’re unaccustomed to what it sounds like from experience, it’s easily missed. But once you hear it and know what you’re listening to, it’s unmistakable.
    Listening to Sean’s voice, I hear voice fry.

  30. Angharad

    This is my favorite episode – I wish they would do more in-depth episodes. This episode really shows how much addiction is a family disease. This also emphasizes how lack of opportunities creates situations where escape through drugs seems like a great option. Throw in trauma and underlying mental illness and it’s a perfect storm. As a former drug user, most recently long-term meth use, I can see how these patterns have played out in my life – rape and other trauma, chronic depression, PTSD, and for a long time no access to mental health services – I was a mess so I self-medicated. ALL of these people deserve better and I hope they were able to find a way out of homelessness. I also really appreciate the obvious love among this family – really wish we had an update.

  31. Chrissy

    The way everything with Sean was handled was wrong in every way and anyone with experience in addiction treatment would know that. It does not matter at all whether Sean was sober at the time or not or whether he’d been clean 10 months or 10 years. There is no way any professional would send someone either in recovery, with a past history of substance use, or with a current substance use problem into a bathroom to help another addict shoot up! With THIER drug of choice. After this kid has been through multiple triggers including all the days and hours of pre-intervention work, being with his family while they were all in an extremely stressful situation, going back to places where he had used, and being around people he had previously used with they put him in that situation. No one in the field would do that. This is treatment and recovery 101. I’ve never felt that the show has exploited anyone on the show, but everything with Sean made me question that.

  32. Todd

    Two young men who could have had terrific lives were cursed by awful parents. Although I firmly believe you are responsible for your own actions – I don’t believe either John or Tom would have ended up on drugs if not for their parents. If the parents had been say athletes – or if John Sr. was completely committed to the tree business – or if both parents were simply vehemently against drug use – John and Tom would have been different Instead the parents were crackheads that turned into heroin addicts. That had to affect the choices their boys made in life.

    1. Stefan

      That’s the case for most people on this show sadly.

    2. beelove

      and there’s a good chance they will also be shitty parents who make bad choices that negatively affect their own children’s lives. it’s the family legacy of addiction.

    3. Stefan

      I’m just re-reading this and wanted to add that athletes can be bad parents too. Money does not make someone a good parent.

      1. Todd

        Yes but athletic parents would have set a better example than the drug addicted parents these two boys had.

  33. LK

    This episode was shocking and sad. Like Dizzy said, I think the treatment of Sean was very inappropriate on the part of the production team (even if he was still using at the time as many people speculate here). He should not have been exposed to Paterson or his uncle using. Also, I couldn’t help but notice that Tom’s lazy eye disappeared after he went to treatment, which surprised me but also made me happy for him as it highlighted some of the physical effects of his addiction being lifted in recovery. I wish this family the best, this was probably one of the strongest examples of intergenerational trauma I’ve seen on this show.