Mother who spent years helping son kick heroin addiction, on how they now stage interventions for others hooked on drugs
23:17 GMT, 3 October 2012
A mother who spent years trying to help her son conquer a heroin addiction, has told how they now run a successful drug intervention business together.
Debbie Knauss from Dallas, Texas experienced the horrors of drug abuse firsthand, as her son, Brandon, got hooked on opiates as a teenager.
But following a six-month stint in prison, Brandon managed to kick his habit, and today he offers advice to others battling substance abuse through the family company.
Scroll down for video
Using their experiences to help others: Debbie Knauss and her son Brandon encourage patients to seek help for various problems including alcoholism and drug abuse
Recalling life as heroin addict, Brandon, 30, told ABC:: 'I wasn't grown up enough to ask for help and ashamed that I'd failed.
'Because of the stigma associated with addiction, no one wants to admit
they are addicted.'
The college dropout began smoking pot aged 16 and two years on he was experimenting with opiates. He was later admitted to rehab, but following release he started mixing with old friends taking pills and soon, heroin.
Describing how drugs made him feel, he said: 'It made me feel different. It took away my self-consciousness and shyness.'
Heartbreaking: Mrs Knauss visits her son Brandon in prison after he was admitted for rehab
But after failing ten drug tests and testing positive for heroin, Brandon enrolled on a six-month prison rehab program.
Talking about the course of events his mother Debbie, who also found syringes used by her son in her car, said: 'It really hit me like a brick wall how the disease had progressed in
'At that moment he was on the brink of death.. I
had no idea he'd been shooting up in our house.'
While in jail Brandon was forced to come off heroin without any replacement drugs, and as a result he suffered from panic attacks, nausea, diarrhea, sweats
He said: 'I'd rather die than go though that again.'
On release his mother Debbie, who at the time worked for one of the
world's largest intervention companies, decided to start her
own company called V.I.P.
Cracking addiction: Debbie and her son Brandon star in a TLC documentary, which follows them as they carry out two interventions with drug addicts
Initially she ran the business alone, but she soon realised her son was able to offer patients firsthand advice, and they joined forces.
'Brandon had special gift and ability relate to young people in the way an adult cannot,' she said.
Brandon who is now clean, also notes that his work with addicts allows him to understand his own issues.
'Doing these interventions has kept me away from going back down that steep slope. It reminds me of all the pain I caused my family and myself,' he added.
The duo star in a one-hour documentary titled Cracking Addiction on TLC tonight.
The episode follows them as they prepare to execute two interventions involving a pregnant college dropout who is hooked on
heroin; and meth-addict has lost
custody of her two children.
Cracking Addicts airs on TLC 9 ET, 8 Central.