Intervention’s Candy Finnigan – the last drink’s on her

November 30, 2009 by  

After a lifetime of being casual about her appearance, Candy Finnigan – one of three Interventionists on the hit Reality show “Intervention” – has learned that fame can make you change your perspective.

“The other day, a friend showed me that someone took a picture of me at the airport and put it on their Facebook page,” said Candy Finnigan. “I guess no more running to Ralphs in my pajamas for me.”

Things weren’t supposed to turn out this way for Candy Finnigan. Coming from a well-to-do family in Vermont, Finnigan went to school at the University of Kansas, where she met, fell in love with, and eventually married Mike Finnigan, a 6-foot-5 basketball star, and as Candy said “The big man on campus. I always liked the jocks, and he was cute, too. He still is.”

The opening years of the Finnigan’s marriage kept Candy’s roll going. Mike quickly went on to become an in-demand and well-respected musician, playing with the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Etta James.

With two children and a husband who had become a successful musician, all seemed right for Candy Finnigan. But still, her drinking continued to accelerate. The Finnigans were a couple that liked to drinks, even as they studiously avoided the temptations that come with the musical industry. But as their marriage had advanced, so had their drinking and, both Finnigans had began to drink more and more. The word “divorce” came to mind for the first time for Candy.

While interventions were still a concept undergoing birth pangs, Candy got a one-person intervention that got her straight – from her Mother-in-law Evelyn Finnigan, who let Candy know she wouldn’t allow her two grandchildren to grow up in an alcoholic househould.

“His mother spotted me first, and gave me a 60-day limit to get sober. Evelyn was adamant about the damage it would do to the kids.” said Candy Finnigan, admitting she didn’t get sober until day 56 of the time limit. “I am sober, thanks to God to Evelyn Finnigan. She stayed with me, when he first came home. Because it’s really difficult to stay sober when one partner is still drinking.”

While neither were ever sucked into the “music scene” Candy still found a way to drink at home while raising two kids, while Mike’s drinking began to become part of his persona, “he was a great drunk,” said Candy.

But nearly 13 weeks later, Mike joined his wife on the road to sobriety. “I was just terrified of living without drinking,” said Mike Finnigan – also known in the political blogosphere as the man behind “Mike’s Blog Round Up” at Crooks & Liars. But the two have been successful, with more than 22 years of sobriety each.

It was when the Finnigans’ two children began getting older and more independent that Candy Finnigan started looking for a new challenge. Attending a class at UCLA with a friend was the key for Candy, and her experiences at UCLA ended with her receiving a certification in chemical dependency from UCLA. She then went on and completed her internship at Cedars-Sinai Hospital, where she worked in addiction services.

Of course, the journey to becoming a full-time Interventionist was a difficult one, as well. Told by her professor and mentor, Dr. Van Johnson that Interventions were no place for a woman, she just worked harder to gain his respect.

“I am so grateful he’s the one who got to me first, because he really taught me it was God’s work,” said Candy Finnigan. “He would never let me do an Intervention because he didn’t think it was the work of a woman, so I got my certification and went to work.”

“She had a hard time because it was such a male-dominated area,” said Mike Finnigan. “She had a tough time the first 7-8 years. But she’s really good at what she does. Mainly it’s just a tribute to her hard work and to her compassion. She was just one of a handful of women involved. But she never gave up.”

Dr. Johnson – an Episcopalian priest who was doing ground-breaking work in regard to Interventions – warmed to Candy Finnigan and helped her solidify her beliefs in the Intervention process. When Finnigan received her doctorate and joked that people would have to call her a doctor, Dr. Johnson approached and her and said “not to us, you’re not,” with a wry smile.

Finnigan said her work with Intervention – while occasionally drawing embarrassing attention – has been a life-changing experience. And while after years of experience she has learned to always stay professional, she admits it’s never easy.

“I cry every time,” said Finnigan. “The most recent one I did was with someone who was a championship boxer and now lived on the street in a box. I sobbed during that.”

While Finnigan has made her mark as a chemical dependency expert and Interventionist, she has always remembered the one important fact that got her to this position – she is an alcoholic.

“I have to be honest with you and tell you, I had a pretty good battle with my husband that over Thanksgiving that over my dead body would I serve wine with dinner for my daughter and her friend,” relayed Candy Finnigan. “If they want to go out and drink, fine. But I get really uptight about it, and it’s dumb. I just don’t want the bottle sitting in the ice box tempting me, even after 23 years. Not that it as tempting as I make it, but just the principle.”

Aware that not everyone can afford a professional Intervention on a family member or loved one, Candy Finnigan has a book out to make it easier. Titled “When Enough is Enough,” the book gives readers a frank and honest look at how to tackle the needs of an intervention including personal, medical, psychiatric, financial, and legal issues involved.

” ‘When Enough is Enough,’ is a very easy read. It can really help you if you know of someone who needs an intervention, but you just cant’ afford what you see us do on the show.”

And in case you get the wrong opinion of Candy Finnigan – that she’s a tough-as-nails taskmaster – just know this – if you agree to go to rehab, the last drink’s on her.

“After I do an intervention on somebody, I always buy them their last drink,” said Finnigan. “It’s like they say, ‘who goes to rehab sober?’”

Intervention Facts

  • More than 150,000 families of loved ones have applied to be on Intervention, but less than 150 have been featured.
  • Of the 138 people that have had an Intervention on the show, 117 have remained sober – a staggering statistic when compared to national rates.
  • There are 27 people that work on a show. Of those 27, only two are non-drinkers. While first admitting to be slightly offended by this, Candy Finnigan came around to see the sense it made. “If it was all recoverers doing it, nothing would ever get done.”
  • It takes nearly five months from the time an applicant is accepted until the moment the intervention actually takes place.
  • The Rehab centers seen on Intervention are the show’s biggest sponsors, offering their services for free. The person undergoing the Intervention process is not charged for any of the treatment.
  • This season, the seventh for Intervention, former lightwight boxing champion Rocky Lockeridge will be among those receiving help.
  • This season will also see Intervention hand out it first five-year chip to someone that received an intervention on the show.
  • Additional Reading

    Candy Finnigan’s Home Page

    A&E’s Intervention Page

    Mike Finnigan: Rocking out with the coolest man in Leftblogistan



    16 Responses to “Intervention’s Candy Finnigan – the last drink’s on her”

    1. The music keeps playing for Mike Finnigan « Important Blog News « William K. Wolfrum Chronicles on February 23rd, 2011 5:32 am

      [...] Here’s a feature I wrote on Mike, his music career, hius trials and tribulations and long-time sobriety, as well as his beginning days as a blogger. I spoke with Mike’s wife, Candy Finnigan – an interventionist on the hit A&E show “Intervention” – in a story you can read here. [...]

    2. Candy T on January 8th, 2015 9:04 am

      My name is candy t… miss candy I AM begging you for help my son is an alcoholic drug addict he drinks from the time he wakes up till the time he goes to bed at night and if he passes out in the afternoon to drink up all over again straight whiskey or vodka and any other brother he can get ahold of you he will do it he’s been doing this for the past 5 years he has been homeless back and forth into jail he has it he has been going back and forth every couple months and they just keep letting loose he’s in jail I need your help please my phone is dying I love him so much and if you’re a motheryou will reach out and help me besides we both have the same name please help me I’m begging you my phone number is xxx xxx 1xxx please call me

    3. V LaVoie on January 18th, 2015 3:06 pm

      I hope the woman that posted above me received help for her loved one. Both of my grown children need help too. I am no longer well enough to help them. I am also in recovery. I’m very concerned bc a 2-yr-old is now involved. If it’s meant to be, please contact me. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

    4. Linda on January 26th, 2015 11:38 am

      Hi Candy,

      My name is Linda and my 27 year old son is a Herion addict and possibly using Meth as well. He started on Oxy when he was a junior in high school, which esculated to Herion. He has been homeless, in and out of jail. He was doing good for about 12 months of the past 10 years, he fell again in September again and by October lost his apartment, job and is once again homeless. He looks so bad and I fear that knock on the door he is dead is coming any day! I want to do an intervention, and have him taken to another state. Can you please direct me. I know I need to wait until he is ready, but fear it will be to late. Thank you so much!!!

    5. MERCY on January 29th, 2015 1:51 pm

      Please help b for i die . My ptsd my anger my self medication is going to kill me. I watch u. U r amazing help is all i can say rt now. My phone goes out in three days see if help w out $ comes . I need to learn to b w myself and luv me. Im so smart i think the world is stupidly stupid cuz they choose to b closed minded. Help to smart for my own good .i can help anyone but myself. HELP…

    6. MERCY on January 29th, 2015 2:07 pm

      I need ur HELP. I’ve had too much traumatic life in itself to keep myself from self medication. I watch u candy u r a very smart women. I have children that need my mother hood. Im useless to society if i can teach them to b up standing real people. HELP is alk i know at this pont. Im so Angry at life. I’ve had $ its nothing to real luv and happiness. Ive also b for i knew rt and wrong as a child learned to make my income frome the dicks that took self wearth. From me. Im afrade of myself and what my denial could lead to death. Im w out my kids,i see no reason to b on earth. Im less of a berdon if my family can visit me at mt grave. Help candy lide is more then drugs money and politics, my kids have been taken legally by there dad. Does anyone know its ageist the law.domestic violence. Tell my boys that when they’re looking for me and i did die of an overdose. I need help. I have no $$$$$$$$$ I can make $$$ BUT I KNOW ILL B DEAD IF I GO THERE AGAIN HELP HELP HELP CANDY……RESPECTFUL MERCY IMPERIAL. My number will b off in 3 days. My brother might hang up Please try his number again. I need CANDY help….NOWWWWWWWW PLEASE i live for the day i get a chance to get REAL help to change. …

    7. Karen E on February 28th, 2015 8:56 pm

      Ms Candy Finnigan
      I’m writing you because I lost my brother in 1998 he was 38 yrs d and he has a daughter she was 17 than and year after he passed she had a baby and 11 months after that she had another baby and now she is on drugs and doing it by a needle speed!!! She has lost ever thing, her 2 boys and her family has given up on her. I’m asking for some help from you I think me and you togather along with her family could get her to go to treatment! I’m out of state from her but I’m willing to meet you there and see about getting her in treatment!! I’m asking for help she is gonna die if not she has lost over a 100lbs and is so skinny and weak but still doing the drugs! Please email me and let me know if u can help me with this matter!

    8. Mary Jo on April 14th, 2015 7:19 pm

      Candy I became an alcoholic at the age of 47…I had gastric bypass surgery and subsequently had nine more abdominal surgeries…I have had times of sobriety and just turned sixty…I can t seem to let the alcohol go…it seems to be my best friend…I HATE it but can t seem to stop…the only insurance I have is Medi-cal…don t know what to do anymore…if you can help me that would be great…Thank you

    9. Mary Jo on April 14th, 2015 7:25 pm

      Candy…I became an alcoholic at the age of 47…I had gastric bypass surgery and 9 subsequent abdominal surgeries…I have had times of sobriety and just turned sixty…I hate it but cannot seem to stop…If you could help me in any way that would be great…Thank you

    10. Ellen Sanders on June 13th, 2015 8:35 pm

      Hi, Candy: I just want to tell you how much I admire you. I’m an adopted Irish girl myself who always felt loved by my adoptive parents. (i’ve been told this is unusual). But, sadly, I lost Mom when I was ten. My family was never the same after that. I survived my “party years”, loneliness, and two step-families. Now I’m a legally blind woman with a loving husband who suffered from addiction for years as a result of an unhappy childhood. I just found out my 34 year old nephew died from heroin. The world needs people like you. You have such an immense purpose in life. Thank you for caring so much and doing such a wonderful job.

    11. Gina ruffino on June 14th, 2015 8:42 am

      Dear candy,let me start with you are my hero…I have never missed an intervention and have watched reruns time and time again (my othe half makes fun of me) I myself am a recovering meth..addict who just celebrated 6yrs on June 3rd…I will be 44 next week…It has never been easy but it is all so worth it…I can’t get enough of the show or you (you are my favorite) BTW…for the simple reasons that you show your compassion,feelings and emotions for others in their active addiction…I would be so blown away to talk with you a dream come true..thanks for reading…Gina.R

    12. mickkie on August 3rd, 2015 7:33 pm

      Please don’t defy Cindy. No recovering addict or alkie wants that as a condition to keep someone sober. Just because they’re on TV does not make them worthy of worship.

      Basically, you just have to show up in the rooms of AA or NA (narcotics anonymous) or wherever, and not use or drink in between. Then you get a same-sex sponsor and do what they ask you. Then you talk to people around you and ask how they are. These are the things that keep you sober, whether 1 day or 50 years.

      Sponsors just guide you in the program. They DO NOT tell you what to do. If you’re new, they will probably suggest, for example, you not hang with your still using boyfriend, but ultimately, you’ll do what you want, anyways. Until you’ve had enough pain, that is…I’d suggest reading the Big Book called Alcoholics Anonymous, available in any library. Read the stories in the back. That helps a lot of people. Ignore the differences and hang on to the similarities with all your hear.

      No one is going to MAKE you do anything. I’ve known some program people almost 30 years. Note that any people try to sober up more than once. Ask them if it’s better using or sober. The AA Grapevine is also a big help to many people. The stories are something for new people to connect to.

      Find the 44 Am I an Alcoholic questions on Google, only replace the word alcohol with bananas. “Have you ever missed work on account of your eating too many bananas?” “Has anyone ever suggested you stop eating so many bananas?” “Have you ever ate many more bananas than you intended?”

    13. Lauren G on November 30th, 2016 8:20 am

      You truly are doing God’s work. I have struggled growing up in a family of alcoholics and an who have committed suicide after my uncle was killed in a drink driving accident that was his fault.

      Last night I watched the new episode of Intervetion in which you are trying to get Katie from Pheonix into rehab.

      I cannot drink alchohol; because when I do I cannot stop. This wasn’t a problem in college when everything was a party and the fact that I didn’t have any negative repercussions from drinking; but I just turned 37 this past month and the few times I’ve allowed myself to drink I’ve made a ridiculous drunken spectacle of myself and said things to my family and friends that are so humiliating.

      Watching last nights episode you told Katie’s mother that she couldn’t change the past and to forgive herself and move-on. I cannot express how resonating that comment was when I heard you tell her that on the show. The primary reason for this is because it’s when I would recall how embarrassed and ashamed I am by past comments I made when I was drunk that those mend memories are what make me struggle with the day to day battle NOT to take that drink.

      You are an inspiration to so many people. I admire your candidness and your straight-forward manner of helping ALL of us……the fact that you are so candid yet compassionate in your work is truly admirable beyond what people who have never struggled with addiction in both their own lives and in their familys’ lives could ever comprehend.


    14. Lauren G on November 30th, 2016 9:00 am

      Additionally, I apologize for my spelling and grammatical errors in my previous message. It’s auto-type on my iPhone. I should be better in regard to self-editing! Thank you again for your positive impact on such a wide spectrum of society and Intervention viewers.


    15. Tia marie on December 7th, 2016 8:23 am

      Hi candy I’m a 35 transsexual and iv been with my lover for almost 8 years we are both addicts and I’m trying so hard too get clean but I can’t leave him behind it would kill him please help I’m sure u won’t get this but I’m at the end of my rope

    16. Anna Lanzotti-Venrick on April 1st, 2017 6:05 pm

      Thank you for the life saving work you do and for loving and reaching out to the addict. Their lives matter regardless of what some people say. Ive heard people comment that when someone overdoses they should let them “die off” to solve the heroin epidemic. It grieves me. Thank God for people like you who truly care.

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