For its third year, the Community Behavioral Health Conference hosted interventionist Candy Finnigan as its keynote speaker. Finnigan gained recognition as an interventionist and recovery addiction specialist through her appearances on the A&E television series, “Intervention.”
The annual conference held at the end of February brings together experts on different aspects of mental health to discuss topics ranging from the state of mental health services in the area to addiction.
Finnigan has been practicing intervention for the past 28 years following her own personal battle with alcoholism. With help from family and professionals, Finnigan said she has now been sober for more than 33 years.
“You are just the messenger,” Finnigan said during her talk. “You are that light of hope. The client already knows. You are just the messenger bringing it to the forefront for conversation.”
The talk, which took the form of a question and answer discussion, was hosted by Harry Lemming, director of business development for Texoma Medical Center Behavioral Health Center.
Finnigan opened the discussion by thanking the Texoma region for holding the conference and for its efforts to bring attention to mental health issues. Finnigan also noted that the conference took a unique approach by holding a panel about the role of faith in recovery.
“I have never in 28 years been to a conference where God was brought up,” she said. “It is unheard of because that has nothing to do with addiction. We are missing something in the other parts of the country.”
Finnigan noted that the region could use additional rehab and detox clinics in addition to the existing services.
Finnigan was asked about her time as an interventionist, including how many interventions she has done over the years. While Finnigan said the television show has helped 288 people over the past 13 years, she is uncertain how many interventions she has done.
“What I tell people is the last one I did is my favorite one,” she said. “Then they go, ‘How many have you done,’ and I go, ‘how many times have you been to church?’ You don’t know and nor do I.”
With regard to recovery from addiction, Finnigan also spoke on the importance of family in recovery. This includes the need for lifestyle changes at home to assist in keeping the loved one sober and ensuring they get the continued care they need.
“If they don’t change, you’ve just gotten a good night sleep for 30 days because they are coming back,” she said.
In addition to her time as an interventionist, Finnigan spoke about her own experiences with addiction and alcoholism. Finnigan said she received a wake up call nearly 30 years ago when her mother-in-law confronted her about her alcoholism.
Finnigan told the crowd that her mother-in-law gave her 60 days to seek treatment or to stop drinking or she would take away Finnigan’s children. Finnigan said she sobered up on day 61.
It was around 2005 when Finnigan was approached about appearing on a television series about addiction. While the concept seemed and still seems strange, she said it has allowed her to help people overcome addiction.
“I thought it was the craziest idea I’ve ever heard and I still do,” she said. “I’ve had people say, ‘I wish you knocked on my door.’”