Candy Finnigan isn’t just an addiction specialist and interventionist. She’s also a recovering alcoholic who has been sober since 1986.

“I got sober because my mother-in-law was a social worker,” she says, noting, “There was no fooling” her mother-in-law who ultimately gave her 60 days to get sober.

Finnigan attended a 10-day diversion program and kicked her alcohol addiction. Her musician husband, also an alcoholic, got clean shortly thereafter. They’ve been married 43 years and have two children.

Helping others get sober

Nationally known as an interventionist on the A&E hit show “Intervention,” which ended this past July after 13 seasons, Finnigan wanted to help others get sober.

Following her neighbor’s advice and encouragement, Finnigan went to UCLA and became a certified drug and alcohol counselor.

“It was a real adjustment for me but I loved learning what I had,” says Finnigan who has worked in intervention, and relapse prevention, as well as family and individual counseling.

Since her certification, she has interned at Cedars-Sinai, worked with the Betty Ford Center, Promises West and Malibu, Sierra Tucson, The Meadows, Talbots, Caron, Astoria Point/Rosebriar, The Ranch Recovery in Desert Hot Springs and Hazelden as well as many other programs focused on helping addicts get sober.

Finnigan has been an asset for addicts throughout the recovery process, including helping them get assessed, placed in treatment and making sure they receive aftercare treatment. With musician Buddy Arnold, she started the “Musician Assistance Program,” now known as “MusiCares,” which has helped over 2,400 musicians get sober. Finnigan has also been a group facilitator for adults and adolescents. For 11 years, she was a drug and alcohol specialist and counselor for the students at Beverly Hills High School. 

Get professional help

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2011 about 22.5 million Americans, aged 12 or older, had used an illicit drug or abused a psychotherapeutic medication like pain relievers or stimulants within the past month.

“You have to get professional help,” says Finnigan, who encourages parents and families to be anti-drug advocates.  She suggests monitoring kids’ social media accounts, looking around the house for alcohol, pills or other drugs and monitoring spending and credit card statements.

Finnigan says the average age kids starting using drugs now is “between sixth and seventh grade.” She wants parents to be aware of peer pressure on children and urges them not to host or let their kids attend parties where kids will be using drugs and alcohol. “It’s the responsibility of trying to be a role model,” she says.

“Authentic” interventions

Finnigan is grateful she stopped drinking and wants others to kick the habit too. The author of an intervention book, “When Enough Is Enough,” she’s proud of her work on “Intervention,” a show she calls, “authentic.” “The show allows families and people to see they’re not alone,” explains Finnigan, who goes on to say, “I think it’s put a much more personal face on it.”

Even though only a few minutes of her TV interventions are broadcast, Finnigan says she actually spends four to six hours on each intervention, helping family and friends confront an addict.

“I’m a deep believer that its as much a mental disability as it is a physical addiction,” says Finnigan, who doesn’t see “the differentiation between alcohol and drugs,” because both are addictive.