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Addictions to aspirations: Televised intervention saves Calgary woman’s life

“I was drinking myself into complete oblivion,” the 26-year-old recalled during a recent phone interview. "

I’m sick, but don’t give up on me.

Nichole Worth’s own words during an hour-long television episode filmed in Calgary about her alcoholism and subsequent recovery spoke volumes of her struggle.

“I was drinking myself into complete oblivion,” the 26-year-old recalled during a recent phone interview. “I knew how bad it was but I couldn’t get a handle on it. I couldn’t stay sober for even 12 hours.”

Beer by beer, Worth spiraled into a decade long addiction. Her mother, Brenda Anderson, recalls having to give her a drink at times just to stop uncontrollable tremors reverberating through her body.

“It was just horrific to see her like that,” Anderson said. “She has the softest heart of any person you could meet . . . but we were going to lose her.”

With few options and little money to afford proper treatment, Anderson turned to what seemed like the unthinkable at the time — she applied to have her daughter on A&E’s Intervention.

The show, which recently began its 12th season, films its subjects under the guise of a documentary about addiction, before putting them through an intervention with their closest friends and family in which they are urged to seek treatment.

Months after applying, the family got word that Worth had been chosen. Getting her to treatment, however, would come at a cost: those closest to her would be required to air their dirty laundry on national television.

Her sister would be forced to talk about how she was now engaged to the man that Worth fell in love with first. Her father would talk about his own past struggle with addiction.

For her part, Anderson said, “I didn’t want to go on TV but all I cared about was Nichole. I didn’t care what it took.”

Throughout much of the episode, which aired in mid-August, Worth struggles to articulate her thoughts, passes in and out of consciousness and lashes out at her family.

“I was a mess, plain and simple,” Worth said.

In the end, the 26-year-old agreed to treatment and was sent to Cedars at Cobble Hill in British Columbia.

But the battle had only just begun.

“It's a lifestyle change, it's not something that happens overnight. You need support. I had to change everything, that meant moving away from my family, from ex-boyfriends who I thought cared about me but didn't,” — Nichole Worth, recovering alcoholic

Robert DeClark, inpatient treatment director at Cedars, could not confirm Worth was a patient at the centre but said many struggle with relapse.

“There’s no doubt that there are many, many serious cases, many people die from (addiction) . . . it is a matter of what the patient’s willing to do, that’s the determining factor,” he said.

After treatment, Worth returned to Calgary and briefly slipped back to her old ways. It was at that point she realized there was little left for her in Calgary.

Worth now lives permanently in Victoria, surrounded by others who have gone through addiction treatment.

“These people are my backbone,” she said.

Nichole’s Intervention episode will be aired in addictions centres across North America and she is pursuing a career as a motivational speaker, hoping to reach out to high school-aged kids long before they get to the state she was in.

“I would have been six feet under by now,” she said. “Now, I up early in the mornings, I’m exercising, I’m eating properly . . . someday I want to have kids. It’s been a complete 360.”

BEHIND THE ADDICTION

7 — For seven years, Brenda Anderson locked her daughter Nichole Worth out anytime she arrived at her Calgary home drunk.

18  — At the depth of her addiction, Nichole was consuming up to 18 beers in a single day. That was often coupled with drugs like Oxycontin.

30 — Nichole’s last drink was May 30 during a brief stint back in Calgary in which she relapsed.

BEHIND THE INTERVENTION

25,000 — Nichole Worth was picked from approximately 25,000 candidates struggling with addiction to appear on A&E’s Intervention, according to mother Brenda Anderson.

100 —  The Intervention crew of four shot approximately 100 hours of footage during a week stay in Calgary last December. That did not include hours of pre-screening done through phone interviews.

$395 — Nichole’s treatment at Cedars at Cobble Hill in British Columbia would typically cost $395 a day, but the centre covered it in this case.

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