Intervention Recap, Episode 8: This is Conrad
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Intervention Recap, Episode 8: This is Conrad


conradA&E struck gold back in 2005 when they launched Intervention, a docu-style series following alcoholics and drug addicts (and some struggling with other disorders) from what we hope is their bottom through a staged intervention and, if all goes well, off to treatment. Though briefly canceled in 2013, the show was (thankfully) revived just a year later and has now officially entered its 15th season. This week’s episode turned out to be a re-run from Intervention Canada, which originally debuted on September 23, 2011, but aired as the eighth episode of Season 15 on Sunday, April 25.

This is Conrad

From extreme sports junkie to extreme actual junkie, Conrad is a 20-year old kid who knows what he wants—and that is to get high. Still living with his parents in their beautiful Huntsville, Ontario home, the former athlete spends his days borrowing money from his mom, smoking Oxycontin with his girlfriend (who has a restraining order against him) and watching TV, playing Xbox or just being “bored.” Conrad describes his life as hard, lonely, sad and not fun; but to his credit, he blames himself for getting to this point.

What It Was Like

Conrad’s mother says that she noticed early on what an “intense” child he was. She says that she would look into his eyes and he would just stare back at her for long periods of time. I think, for the most part, this is what all babies do but it was clear that his mom had a very real feeling that her first-born son was going to be a handful on some level. Turns out, she was right!

When Conrad was just five years old, he was diagnosed with ADHD and a mild form of Tourettes syndrome; which basically meant, in this case, he blinks a lot and has some other physical ticks—not life altering disabilities but just enough for a young kid to get teased bullied and made to feel like a freak. Other than genetics, this sort of separatism and lack of acceptance from your peers is pretty much the ingredients to make an addict, so Conrad was probably ripe to find something to help soothe his pain.

Conrad was prescribed medication for his ailments but according to his parents, it made him “fall asleep in his mashed potatoes” and so they stopped giving it to him. They seemed to feel that medicating him was more for their sake than it was for Conrad’s and they didn’t feel it was right to take his spirit away just for their benefit. His mom said she adopted a positive attitude that he would just outgrow it.

Thankfully, Conrad did kind of outgrow it when he discovered extreme sports and became heavily focused on them (not unusual for people with ADHD and/or addiction). Thinking she was helping, Conrad’s mom gave him anything he asked for—bikes, skateboards, snowboards, cars and whatever else interested him. Like any parent, she wanted him to be happy and explore his interests, hoping that he would channel his energy in a positive way. What she didn’t realize was that she had a future drug addict on her hands and that by never saying no to her son, she was laying the groundwork for an unhealthy dynamic between them.

Conrad was introduced to Oxycontin at a party when he was 17 years old and has snorted, smoked or ingested the drug every day since. He claims that he didn’t know how dangerous it was when he tried it—or at least that he would get hooked so quickly. But I kind of find that hard to believe. I don’t think there was nearly as much information about drugs when I was in high school yet if I knew anything, it was that heroin was deadly and if you tried it even once you could get addicted. So either Conrad didn’t think it would happen to him (a common assumption) or he didn’t realize that Oxycontin is basically prescription heroin. But if that’s the case, maybe DARE does work (and we need to bring it the f**k back to all schools).

The other possibility is that Conrad was already drunk when he was offered the Oxy so he didn’t really make a decision abut it either way. But we will never know the truth because from the way Conrad carries on now, it’s clear he hasn’t spoken the truth since he took that first hit.

What It’s Like Now

Though privileged, Conrad’s life is small and fueled by entitlement and a lack of gratitude. But I don’t really blame him—how can someone know what it means to live in a beautiful home, with loving parents who provide food, laundry and financial support if he has never known anything else? Conrad doesn’t work and it’s unclear if he has ever had a job. He spends up to $500 a day on Oxycontin, some of which he borrows from his mom and the rest is paid for by his rapidly increasing debt.

His drug dealer is his high school sweetheart, Dayna, who is also addicted to Oxy but feels her problem is different because she can control it. While this sounds suspect I will concede that since the episode focuses on Conrad—not Dayna—and his using definitely appears to be more escalated than hers. But just in case she is reading this, I want her to know that she isn’t fooling anyone.

What is interesting about Dayna and Conrad’s relationship is that not only are they not supposed to be seeing each other because of a restraining order (that was put in place after a bad fight that caused Conrad to get arrested) but they both admit to not knowing why they are still together. Dayna says she doesn’t know what part of her loves Conrad or what part of Conrad she loves and that she thinks she just feels bad for him. As romantic as that is, my guess is neither Dayna nor Conrad know what they feel about anything since they are high all the time.

But Conrad is clearly unhappy (though you don’t really meet drug addicts who are psyched to be alive) and I don’t think he really knows why (I sure didn’t know why I was so unhappy) so he seems to blame it on the fact that his parents aren’t giving him enough money. I would say that Conrad basically feels that since his parents brought him into this world, it’s up to them to bankroll his addiction and not ask any questions about it. I imagine many young addicts feel this way on some level.

The Pre-Intervention

Canadian interventionist Andrew Galloway sits down with Conrad’s parents, his two aunts and his cousin to talk about how the intervention is going to go down (his brother Alex is not present due to a “medical emergency,” whatever that means). Understanding the level of enabling that is going on, Galloway’s first item on the docket is, what is going to happen if Conrad chooses not to go to treatment?

This is always the hardest part of an intervention because, whether or not they are resistant to help, addicts are typically well aware they have a problem; at least addicts who have agreed to be in a “documentary about addiction” do. But oftentimes, the family doesn’t understand their part. They figure that once the addict is clean and sober, all the issues will evaporate. Think again my little codependent cupcakes! The high as hell elephant in the room might be gone but a confused, manipulative and immature sober person has taken its place. If Conrad gets clean and stays clean, the putting-the-family-back-together party will just be getting started.

We know right from the get go that Conrad’s mom is going to be a tough case. She has been doling out cash to him on a daily basis, subjecting herself to his lies about paying her back and whatever else he thinks she needs to hear to keep the cash cow making milk. But we see pretty quickly that Conrad’s dad is the co-captain of the SS Codependent when he asks what they are supposed to do when their son comes banging at their door. “Call the cops,” Galloway says frankly and without hesitation. But Dad doesn’t like the sound of that. “But they will arrest him and take him to the penitentiary,” Dad says, to which Galloway responds, “He better ask for help then.”

Conrad’s mom admits that she isn’t sure she will be able to stick to the bottom lines of not being in contact with him, not to mention giving him a place to live or money. And the dad seems shaky as well. But Galloway and the other family members explain that it’s the only hope of anything changing so they finally both agree.

The Intervention

As far as interventions go, Conrad’s is short and sweet but not without some colorful addict attitude. In a room surrounded by people who love him and have gathered together to help save his life, Conrad’s response is, “This is so cheesy.” But Galloway doesn’t let him get away with being irreverent. “It’s cheesy that they care or that they want to express love?” Conrad doesn’t really have the capacity to answer a question like that so he just continues to say how cheesy it is. “It’s not cheesy,” Galloway argues, “it’s uncomfortable.” Conrad eventually allows his family to read their letters.

Though with some defiance, Conrad agrees to go into a 90-day program but he has one request. Off-camera, he asks that Dayna come to the intervention. At first, it seems like he just wants to say goodbye but when she gets there, it’s revealed that Intervention has agreed to offer Dayna the option to go to treatment as well. Unfortunately, she hasn’t hit her bottom yet and feels that she will be able to overcome her addiction on her own when she is ready. Though we all know better, Dayna declines help.

Although Conrad seems bummed, he sticks to his commitment to go to treatment. 


We don’t get an on-camera follow-up with Conrad. Instead, we learn that he completed only 21 days of his 90-day program because he was asked to leave when he was caught drinking. He returned home (though it’s not clear whether that was to his family’s house or not) and gets a job detailing cars. He tells his parents that he has not used Oxycontin since he entered treatment on May 15, 2011 and they believe him.

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About Author

Danielle Stewart is a Los Angeles-based writer and recovering comedian. She has written for Showtime, E!, and MTV, as well as print publications such as Us Weekly and Life & Style Magazine. She returned to school and is currently working her way towards a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. She loves coffee, Law & Order SVU, and her emotional support dog, Benson.