Carl Castagna is an “addiction specialist” with offices on Fifth Avenue who charges $300 per hour. His clientele is largely composed of successful doctors, lawyers, money managers and their children. In his 33-year career he says he has performed roughly 300 interventions; in all but three or four cases, he has successfully gotten the patient into treatment. He’s currently shopping a reality TV show about the process.
“I was inspired to help increase the awareness of addiction and the power of it,” said Mr. Castagna, who is 6-foot-5 and looks like the actor Steven Seagal, sans ponytail. Also he says the runaway A&E hit Intervention “does not accurately depict the process.”
“I’m in favor of the show, I’m not against it, but I believe I could add to it by getting at the detail of the process of getting someone to submit to treatment,” he said.
What is missing in Intervention interventions, Mr. Castagna said, are the critical details of addict behavior that create the leverage to break the addict, say “if you have a surgeon who is faced with a situation where he has sewn up a patient’s abdomen with instruments left inside.” Yikes! He says that it is not usually money that provides the best leverage—“when they get to me they already have plenty of money”—but rather the prospect of losing one’s professional license.
Mr. Castagna’s special technique is to line up an addict’s family and colleagues, asking each to be armed with at least 15 examples of bad behavior.
“So far I have several producers interested,” he said. “But before I move forward, I need to get a nondisclosure. Many of my patients over the years have been recognizable names, but confidentiality is critical.”