Now All Sturgill's Thinking About Is More On Intervention

This former star athlete is now lettering in just about every addictive substance. Can he wrestle his demons into submission?

Severity Of Addiction

Sturgill, a former wrestling champ and Golden Gloves boxer now living with his parents outside of Charleston, WV, drinks two pints of alcohol a day, and Elvises booze, crack, benzos, and methadone to manage (or leverage, really) his ups and downs. Once he'd hoped to become an RN; now he applies the knowledge he got from related schooling "to m'job now, as...an addict." Sturgill's extremely self-aware, and notes that sobriety means you have to suffer a little bit, and he's not ready to suffer -- but I think he is. I think he's bored of it, of the indoorsy junkie life and all the cigarette burns in his clothes and bedding.

Level Of Addict Depravity

After two nod wrecks, Sturgill's license is suspended; he doesn't have a job, or even hobbies, and while he mentions doing odd jobs to get money for drugs, his parents pay for his methadone (and probably everything else) and Sturgill Sr. refers to the thefts Jr. has committed, including his mother's engagement set. He's also punched a couple of holes in walls, but the family does appear to get along relatively well (and genuinely, i.e., not only for the short-term period of filming) and he's still so young that he hasn't had time to create and then ruin too many adult commitments.

Native Likability Of Addict

I do love a "holler" accent, but aside from that, Sturgill is clearly bright, and has a flavorful and clever way of putting things; he often seems as baffled as his parents that "the drugs still GOT to me!" As I mentioned, he's self-aware -- "I thought I was fine! ...Until I ran out!" -- and charming. I knew Sturgills in university, gentle-natured boys everyone told "funny" stories on about the drunk headstands they would do in the middle of Washington Road, who didn't have the tools to manage anxiety and pressure and, unsupervised at school, chose to get fucked up instead.

He's quite huggable, this one, and he comes by it genetically; Senior grunts to the camera that he knows they enable him, but we can wait 'til it's our kid and see how we do. His evident pride in his son later in the episode is very touching. You really root for these people.

Cluelessness Of Family/Other Enablers

See above: Senior and Sturgill's mom Jeanie know full well this can't continue, but they really did think subsidizing Sturgill's methadone was a step towards recovery, versus what Senior verbal-eye-rolls became "a lifestyle." They're willing to let him hit rock bottom, but it seems to them like he keeps hitting and it doesn't change anything: "He's on the bottom; he just ain't stopped swimming."

Inciting Incident

Despite a diagnosis of congenital nystagmus -- a type of blindness -- in his infancy, Sturgill liked school, especially science. Before I continue, please to observe the insane cuteness of baby glasses.


You are welcome. ...Anyway, he saw some movie about a wrestler who became a champion despite being totally blind, and that inspired Sturgill to try it -- and he was great at it. So great, unfortch, that at a qualifying tournament, he got way ahead on points, started "showboating," and ended up pinned under his opponent with a gnarly compound fracture of his elbow. Multiple surgeries followed, and Sturgill discovered that boxing actually helped stretch his arm out and combat some of the nerve damage, buuuuut it also made his arm hurt, so he started taking painkillers, and then stronger ones, and etc. and so on. He was fully addicted by the time he graduated high school, and while he liked college, it wasn't a success thanks to what we might call his procurement regimen...and then he moved back home, got a fast-food job, and was introduced to heroin by a co-worker.

Utterly predictable spiral, in other words, and I really hope we start seeing some differences in how pain management is dealt with.

Assigned Interventionist

Sylvia, who is concerned that Jeanie won't actually stick to her boundaries but gives good tips on how to physically behave at the intervention, like "just don't freeze" lest Sturgill think they're not in control of the situation and don't have a plan.

Success Of Intervention

During the letters, Sturgill breaks down completely, and Sylvia doesn't have to say much beyond "full medical detox" before he burbles that he'll go. Putting Sturgill in the car, Senior sobs that he's so proud of his son. Aw.

Follow-Up #1

Kelly's 11 years on from her eating disorder, and in keeping with the trend in these older follow-ups in Season 16, she stresses to Jeff that it's not an easy road: "It's about being patient with yourself."


But she looks very well -- younger, actually, than she did in her first-season episode -- and sounds less rehearsed than these usually do.

Follow-Up #2

Sturgill's back into working out and psyched to finish school. He thinks he can really help people as a counselor because he's been there; I agree.


...Aw, dads.


0-19: Diet Coke

20-39: Marlboro Reds

40-59: Vodka

60+: China White

Final Score: 50

An Old Scout, straight no chaser

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