Is TLC’s unforgiving, docu-reality series ‘Addicted‘ too intense for television? It grabbed me even before it started a few months ago with a preview of a young blond named Klea smoking crystal meth. At the same time, this window into drug addiction was dirty, disgusting, uncomfortable and just about the most fascinating thing I watched on TV.
Tonight’s season finale, full of as much grit, self-destruction, and courage as any of the previous five episodes, focuses on Annie Preece, a 29-year-old coke and heroin addict residing in Santa Cruz, CA, who has been battling her drug problem since she was 16. When ‘Addicted’s cameras began following Preece in December, she and her boyfriend, Mike Lombardo, who she met in a recovery problem, had both spiraled into devastating relapse, costing them everything of meaning in their lives.
Preece was at a new bottom. “I was sitting in a motel room and couldn’t find a vein. I had run out of veins,” she told Shanna McCord of the San Jose Mercury News. “I had hit an emotional bottom. I was at a point in my heart and brain where I just couldn’t do it anymore. I was ready to get clean, for somebody to tell me what to do.”
Enter the show’s host, Kristina Wandzilak, a former addict turned certified addiction specialist (like the better known Dr. Drew Pinsky, though she’s a not an M.D.) who said, “Annie was going to die if we didn’t do the intervention when we did.” According to Wandzilak, her only hope for recovery was getting back into treatment and getting away from her boyfriend.
And now? Per the Mercury News’ story, Preece has been out of rehab since February and living in Southern California. She restarted her career as a painter. Lombardo, also clean, stayed in San Francisco.
What do you think of ‘Addicted’? Is it helpful? Exploitative? Enlightening?