Return to Transcripts main page
ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL
Encore: Addict Nation: Drugs and Booze
Aired May 31, 2010 - 19:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Addict nation, out of control. Tonight ISSUES goes inside America`s addictions from drugs and alcohol to food and sex. We are a nation consumed by our over- consumption. These toxic secrets destroy our families and ruin our lives, so what can we do to stop it, and can you relate? Tonight, I`ll talk one-on-one with famous celebrities as we battle addiction.
Famous actress and recovering addict McKenzie Phillips. Robin Quivers from the Howard Stern show. Ruby Gettinger from the hit show "Ruby." And "American Idol" contestant Jessica Sierra. Together we`ll go inside the hell of addiction and attack inner demons head on.
So put down the pills, drop the drinks, and spit out that junk food. An ISSUES special investigation starts now.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, an escalating drug crisis in America. In fact drug addiction is out of control, people. We have lost so many -- Michael Jackson Anna Nicole Smith and Heath Ledger -- to drug overdoses.
And then there are the Brittany Murphys and the Corey Haims, who tragically died before their time from medical issues, but in both cases, numerous drugs were found in their systems.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Drug addiction in particular, prescription pill addiction is epidemic. You could call it a social contagion.
Tonight we start with a very special guest, McKenzie Phillips. She is the famous daughter of John Phillips from the Mamas and the Papas. A teen star with a lead role in the `70s smash hit comedy, "One Day at a Time."
McKenzie suffered near-fatal overdoses and did multiple stints in rehab. We`re so happy to say McKenzie is now clean and sober, and she is talking about the root causes of her addiction in her best-selling book, "High on Arrival."
Also here with us tonight on ISSUES, superstar singer Jessica Sierra. An "American Idol" finalist, Jessica had brushes with the law and did a stint in "Celebrity Rehab." Jessica is now proudly clean and sober, and she`s got a hot new single called "Enough," inspired by her struggle.
Plus Jennifer Gimenez, now the house manager on the hit show, "Sober House." Jennifer battled booze and a cocaine addiction, but that wasn`t all. She is now clean and sober, as well.
How did they all kick their habits?
Tonight my expert panel includes Howard Samuels, addiction specialist and CEO of the Hills Treatment Center in L.A. and Bonnie Fuller, founder of HollywoodLife.com.
Now, if you at home struggle with any addictive behavior at all, or you know someone who does, all of this is for you, people at home.
McKenzie Phillips, let`s start with you. How long have you been sober? And, please, paint a picture of your final, final, final bottom, where you experienced that incomprehensible demoralization that led to clarity.
MCKENZIE PHILLIPS, AUTHOR, "HIGH ON ARRIVAL": I know exactly that moment, and that is when I was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport in August of 2008. Taken out in handcuffs, you know. And I had to have my back up against a wall. I had to be facing the loss of my freedom to actually snap out of it and try and work for my own life, save my own life.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And how long have you been sober now?
PHILLIPS: I`ve been -- I`ve been clean a little over two years. Honestly, I don`t count days. I know a lot of people do, but I don`t do that.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. But two years is still a long time by any measure. I mean, just the first 30 days. Go ahead.
PHILLIPS: I had ten -- I had ten years clean at one point, you know? And then my father passed away, and I wasn`t doing the deal. And I relapsed and -- with pain medication after elective cosmetic surgery. So I mean, I know the way people get caught up in that. "I`ve got a toothache, you know. I need to get pain medication," and it skyrockets. It snowballs into -- into an addiction cycle. It`s just terrifying.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely, and we`re going to talk about prescription pill and drug addiction in a moment, because pills are a huge problem.
Now, in your explosive and very controversial memoir, "High on Arrival," McKenzie Phillips, you describe having sex with your own father, John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas. Listen to this from Oprah.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: I begin waking up after a drug-fueled event. Yes. With my pants around my ankles and my father sleeping beside me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Some members of her own family are very upset over this book, but there`s an expression in 12-step: you`re only as sick as your secrets.
McKenzie, you say you had a toxic secret. Many of us do. How did revealing your toxic secret free you up to truly embrace sobriety?
PHILLIPS: Well, you know, revealing any secret was -- was for me, but it was also to try and put a hand out to people who feel like they don`t have a voice, they don`t -- they`re too afraid to talk. And I wasn`t afraid.
And, you know, I mean as a result of talking, I have lost all relationship with all of my brothers and sisters. None of them speak to me anymore. But I believe that that`s -- you know, we`re one small family that`s been affected by this. There are thousands, millions of people and I know that have been affected by this.
But one of the main things that happens to people who have been sexually abused is they end up drug addicts. They end up not being able to function in their lives, because they`re carrying this secret.
And so for me, I have never felt better. I have never felt more at home in my own body than since "High on Arrival" came out. And I`ve been able to help a lot of people with my book, and that`s what it`s all about. We know that.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And yet, I do see some sadness in your eyes when you say you`ve lost your relationship with your family.
PHILLIPS: I am heartbroken about it. It`s very, very difficult for me. Some of us have our family of origin, and we end up through circumstance with a family of choice. And that`s where I find myself now.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Very eloquently put.
You know, relapsing is a huge issue for a whole lot of addicts. Former child star Corey Haim was a recent example. Let`s listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COREY FELDMAN, ACTOR: I was sober by the time I was 18 years old.
LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": And when you stopped, you stopped?
KING: Never looked back?
You, it was longer, right?
COREY HAIM, ACTOR: I was what you would call back then a chronic relapser for the rest of my life. So I always...
FELDMAN: Not the rest of your life.
HAIM: Not the rest of my life, but I like to have great support people around me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jessica Sierra, you were a finalist on the hit show "American Idol." After "Idol," you had a successful singing career, but then you were arrested multiple times for drugs and intoxication. Wow, that`s a mug shot for the record books.
You were in and out of rehab. You relapsed after appearing on VH- 1`s "Celebrity Rehab" with Dr. Drew. What was your rock bottom, and how did you finally break that vicious cycle of uncontrollable cravings?
JESSICA SIERRA, SINGER: You know what? I really think that my rock bottom was when I was sitting in jail facing 13 and a half years in prison. You know, I never expected my life to turn out like that. And, you know, I realized that something had to change.
And even though, once I got into rehab and I was sentenced there for a year, it didn`t take me until about six months into it to really realize that my life was completely screwed up. And if I didn`t do something, that I was going to end up like my mother, you know, dead. So...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: So you think actually going into the clinker might have saved your life?
SIERRA: Absolutely, absolutely. And the judge sentence -- sentencing me to a year in rehab and taking the microphones and the cameras and taking that all away from me, I think that saved my life.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. My big issue tonight: lethal drug cocktails. There is a very disturbing trend in America. The Office of National Drug Control Policy says abuse of prescription drugs is at an all-time high among young adults. In fact, it`s the nation`s No. 2 most prevalent drug use, right after pot. Prescription pills are now causing more major doses than heroin.
We all know the names: Michael Jackson, Heath Ledger, Anna Nicole Smith. All had at least a half a dozen prescriptions in their systems when they died.
Howard Samuels, you`re the addiction specialist. How do people get hooked on so many different kinds of pills?
HOWARD SAMUELS, ADDICTION SPECIALIST: Well, the new drug dealer in America today is the medical doctor. OK? It`s very, very sad. It`s a huge crisis. There`s so many medical doctors that are out there, over- prescribing Vicodin, OxyContin, Soma, Xanax. It`s a crisis. Something that has to really be dealt with, with the law enforcement officials, with the medical community.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, Bonnie Fuller, you`re the celebrity watcher. We`ve had so many tragic deaths from drug overdoses among celebrities. Is there sort of a silver lining here, in that it`s really waking up American to a crisis that`s affecting a lot more than celebrities? This is rampant across the country.
BONNIE FULLER, FOUNDER, HOLLYWOODLIFE.COM: I would hope that. Unfortunately, I don`t think that it -- that that is true, while people may be aware that celebrities are dying and having to go to rehab and having to go to prison, that doesn`t mean that they necessarily relate it to themselves.
I think they`re like celebrities, in that a person who is addicted to drugs thinks "It`s just not going to happen to me. I`m special. I can handle it."
And I think a lot of those who are typically addicted, like celebrities, have enablers in their lives. They have got friends and family members who are aware of what they`re doing and, instead of forcing them into rehab or forcing them to confront the situation, they help -- they make excuses for them.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re going to talk about that. We`re going to talk about enabling, and we`re going to talk about co-dependency on the other side of the break.
If you think you have an addiction or know somebody who does, you can check out my addiction memoir, "iWant," which is now out in paperback.
Everybody stay right where you are. We`re just getting started as we go inside our nation`s desperate battle with addiction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI, SOLD PRESCRIPTION DRUGS ILLEGALLY: I had a legitimate injury, and I knew what to ask for. And I went to four different doctors and got whatever medication I wanted, mostly OxyContin, Fentanyl, Vicodin, Percocets. After taking what I wanted for myself, I was also able to trade prescriptions for an ounce of cocaine, which then I could sell to somebody else for thousands of dollars.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOWARD K. STERN, LAWYER OF ANNA NICOLE SMITH: Look at me. Brownie thinks you`ve lost your mind.
ANNA NICOLE SMITH, ACTRESS/MODEL: Huh?
STERN: Brownie thinks you`ve lost your mind.
SMITH: I didn`t lose my mind.
STERN: She thinks you have.
SMITH: I didn`t.
STERN: Is this a mushroom trip?
STERN: Is this a mushroom trip?
STERN: Is this a mushroom trip?
SMITH: What do you mean?
STERN: I`m kidding.
SMITH: What does that mean?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Who can forget that disturbing, now-infamous video of Anna Nicole Smith? It`s called the clown video. She is totally out of it, painted up like a clown. She doesn`t even realize the baby in the carriage is a doll, and she forgets that she`s pregnant.
She was dead from an overdose six months later.
McKenzie Phillips, we see so many stars who are falling to addiction, overdoses. Is addiction a harder battle for stars because we encourage as a culture their out-of-control narcissism?
PHILLIPS: Well, I think that it`s becoming more of a problem, because people are getting so much more attention. I mean, look at Lindsay Lohan. People are getting so much more attention for being out of control.
But by the same token, it`s happening in families all across our country, all across the world. I mean, it`s, as you said, it`s an epidemic, but it`s touching every family in the country. And so...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But I see your point. Your point is that, if they`re also attention addicts, if we give them attention, it doesn`t matter that it`s negative attention. As long as it`s attention, it`s still going to feed the addictive craving.
PHILLIPS: I think it absolutely exacerbates it, absolutely exacerbates it. Makes it much worse.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. Who wanted to jump in?
FULLER: It`s Bonnie.
FULLER: I think Lindsay Lohan is a perfect example of somebody who`s completely addicted to being in the spotlight, as well as addicted to drugs, alcohol, whatever she can get her hands on. I mean, how many pictures are there now of her, Lindsay Lohan, falling down, coming out of club, Lindsay Lohan with her skirt over her head practically?
Not only that, she was due in court this week. She is partying in Cannes and cannot get back, or could not get back, claimed she`s lost her passport. She doesn`t seem to care that she could go to prison. That`s how out of -- how addicted she is.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know, the thing about addiction, it`s very complicated. And I want to talk about something that`s -- I describe it as addiction hopping.
And by the way, I`m a recovering alcoholic with 15 years of sobriety, so I know about this. Because now I`m also a sugar addict. I identify as a sugar addict, because my addiction hopped from alcohol to sugar.
When addiction -- when addicts are deprived of our old drugs, we`re very ingenious at creating new drugs. And I`m no exception. I wrote about this in by book "iWant." After surrendering to my alcohol addiction and quitting drinking, "That`s when sugar strutted into my life and gave me a come-hither look. Sugar, the tasty dominatrix who gave orders that I felt strangely compelled to obey."
Now Jennifer Gimenez, you are in charge on the VH-1 show, "Sober House." You`re the house manager. You`ve battled drinking. You`ve battled drugs for most of your adult life. And then you saw Dr. Drew. You finally got clean. Congratulations. But after quitting drugs, I understand you gained 100 pounds?
JENNIFER GIMENEZ, HOUSE MANAGER, VH-1`S "SOBER HOUSE": Yes. I did. I actually gained 100 pounds.
You know, what happened to me was after I -- when I went into treatment, I was -- you know, people taught me how to live again. And they -- you know, they watched me. I think treatment helps a lot of people, but there`s also 12-step communities that are for free. You know, you don`t have to go in there and pay, you know, your life savings to get better.
And I have a sponsor, and she walks me through the steps. And they told me, "I don`t want you to hurt yourself, hurt anyone else, don`t drink, don`t use and we`re going to dig real deep." And then they said no sex or relationships, and that was really -- that was really a point for me where I went, "Oh, my God. I don`t know what I`m going to do with myself, because I`m left with me and that`s a really scary place for me to be."
And once I started digging and literally digging deep, I -- I was - - food was my comfort. And after the first "Sober House," I tried to put on a dress. I think I was turning two years into recovery. And like any girl, you know, I was like, "Oh, it shrunk," but it didn`t shrink. But I got big, you know?
So after the first season was on, I really wanted my mind, body and spirit, and I had to make sure that I wasn`t also going into becoming addicted to working out either. And it`s a constant daily reprieve for me in all areas of my life. You know?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. I think you`re so eloquent in describing that.
Howard Samuels, for those at home, one of the reasons why there is cross addiction, is that whatever drug you use, it`s the same bottom- line reason: to escape from painful feelings and not deal with issues that are coming up that you don`t want to deal with.
SAMUELS: Well, you know, Jane, this is such a great issue, because once somebody gets sober, you go into secondary, you know, addictions because you don`t want to deal with self. You`re so used to dealing with the drug or the food or the sex or the gambling. So you have to hit a bottom until you finally get to the realization that it`s a spiritual connection, and it`s being of service, and it`s helping people in order to truly find your authentic self.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s right. It`s a spiritual disease with a spiritual solution.
Everybody stay right where you are. From drugs to alcohol to junk food to obesity, we are a nation of addicts. How can we win this battle?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FELDMAN: We all are aware of the fact that Corey Haim has had a long and detailed drug history and battled addiction for many, many years. I know it better than anybody, because I`ve been the guy stuffing charcoal down his throat when he was OD-ing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was Corey Feldman, talking about his buddy Corey Haim`s untimely death, way too young.
You know, one of the hallmarks of addiction is that you think the rules do not apply to you. Amy Winehouse, perfect example. She got permission to leave rehab so she could perform at the Grammys. Guess what? She later relapsed.
And actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers, on top of the world, a slew of hits, he allegedly dropped the "N" word to an airport employee when he was accused of being in a drunken stupor. This was allegedly the second time he was boozed up and out of control at an airport. And he is reportedly being diverted to rehab for the fourth time.
McKenzie Phillips, how do you break through the defiance and the stubbornness which we in 12-step call terminally unique?
PHILLIPS: Well, there certainly is a huge sense of entitlement. I mean, I think most addicts and alcoholics are narcissists. And as you know, as we all know, usually it takes a life-changing event. Your back has to be up against a wall before you`re willing to change.
And even then, the bottom keeps getting lower and lower and lower. I mean, look at me. I mean, I had ten years clean, and then I found myself back with a needle in my arm, you know, at 48 years old. And it`s -- it`s a lifelong process. And you can never let down your vigilance. I mean...
GIMENEZ: Can I say something?
PHILLIPS: ... breaking through denial is huge.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s talk about some of the components of 12-step that might not be familiar to our viewers. Obviously, you surrender to your powerlessness over the drug. You turn it over to a higher power. And then you get rigorously honest, and you start making a list of sort of a house cleaning, an inventory. And then, when you find out you owe somebody an apology, you apologize. That`s called making amends.
Perhaps you can all tell me about your experience making amends and how that impacted you.
And let`s start with Jessica Sierra. As a recovering addict, how did you deal with the amends process?
SIERRA: Well, you know, you can`t really make amends to every single person that you have, you know, hurt in the past. I`ve -- I have made amends to my closest, you know, family members, friends, even some enemies that, you know, I still may not like. But I`ve made amends to them.
But now for me, I guess, I live my day-to-day life trying not to stay mad at people, making amends before I go to sleep if I get in an argument with a friend or something like that. And then just, you know, live a good life and hope that -- hope that anybody that I knew in my past during my addiction when I was a complete insane maniac and hope that they see that I`ve changed. And that`s good enough for them, I`m hoping. And if not, that`s OK.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: McKenzie, briefly, amends?
PHILLIPS: You know, I remember I called up the head of CBS, CBS network where I had done "One Day at a Time." And it was Bob Daly. It was a long, long time ago. And he said, "Girl, I love you for that." So that was one of my -- that came to mind.
But I also had to make amends to myself. I also had to forgive myself for the things that I`d done and be able to walk tall and free, knowing that, you know, that I had done what I was supposed to do.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We have to leave it -- we have to leave it right there. McKenzie, Jessica, thank you for your honesty.
Up next, obesity.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Addict nation, out of control. Tonight, ISSUES goes inside America`s addictions, from drugs and alcohol to food and sex. We are a nation consumed by our over-consumption; these toxic secrets destroy our families and ruin our lives. So what can we do to stop it? And can you relate?
Tonight I`ll talk one-on-one with famous celebrities as we battle addiction. So put down the pills, drop the drink and spit out that junk food.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIK CHOPIN, WINNER, "BIGGEST LOSER" SEASON 3: I think that I have an addiction. Food is my drug of choice.
KEN SEELY, INTERVENTIONIST: I also suffer from food addiction and certain foods are just like crystal meth and alcohol to me. I can`t have those and if I do, they kill me.
DR. REEF KARIM, ADDICTION SPECIALIST: Obesity is not just what you eat and what you burn off. It`s a mental health issue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight America in the throes of an obesity epidemic. Obesity creeping up on smoking as the primary preventable killer of Americans; two-thirds of us are overweight or obese. It`s costing us billions of dollars in health care, it`s making us sick. Diet is a significant factor in heart disease, high cholesterol, stroke, diabetes and cancer.
One-third of our kids, that`s 25 million kids are overweight or obese. More and more kids are getting adult onset diabetes as they get heavier and less active younger and younger.
But there`s also a fast growing movement to change. First lady Michelle Obama is crusading to eliminate obesity in one generation. She`s urging us to take a close look at this crisis, especially our own eating habits.
Her first step: a vegetable garden at the White House. Our next step as a society, admitting we have a huge problem.
Straight out to my incredible star panel, Ruby Gettinger, star of the reality series "Ruby" that airs Saturday at 8:00 p.m. on the Style Network.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUBY GETTINGER, REALITY TV STAR: I`ve gone to the grocery store with two lists, one was for healthy food and one was for everybody else who was going to eat normal food.
I am scared of having all the bad food around, but I`m confident I can stick to only my healthy food.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Get this, Ruby, her highest weight was 716 pounds. And when she hit that number, she hit bottom and she made a change, losing 400 pounds. Way to go, Ruby.
GETTINGER: Thank you.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: She`s also the author of "Ruby`s Diary: Reflections on all I have lost and gained."
I am also delighted tonight to have with us the one and only Robin Quivers, co-host of the wildly successful "Howard Stern Show" on Sirius Satellite Radio. Robin is a vegan and a national crusader for healthy lifestyle which includes a plant-based diet.
We`re also back with reality star Jennifer Gimenez from VH1`s "Sober House". She replaced her addiction to drugs with a food compulsion. We`re going to talk to Jennifer about food sobriety.
And I`m thrilled to have Dr. Ian Smith, medical expert of VH1`s "Celebrity Fit Club" where he`s had to read the riot act to some very unfit and unruly celebrities. Dr. Smith is also the creator of the "50- million-pound challenge, and author of the new book "Happy" -- what a great name.
And back with us, Howard Samuels, addiction specialist and founder of the Wonderland Drug Treatment Center.
Ruby, I want to begin with you. We here at ISSUES are in awe of your courage and strength. What made you realize you had a life- threatening addiction and needed to get help with food?
GETTINGER: Well, I was dying and the doctor told me that I was going to die if I didn`t make a change. My AC1 was 9.7, which means my sugars were running like 400 or 500 a day. I already felt it though. I already knew in my body -- my body was breaking down. And I didn`t know what to do because I could not beat this. I have tried since I was 13 years old to beat it and I just could not.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: What did you do? How did you change?
GETTINGER: When I got what I call the death call, I actually thought, I`m supposed to die. This was it. There`s no way I could beat this.
And that other part of me kicked in and says, "You`re going to beat this no matter what. This was my drug of choice. I knew that it was like alcohol, I knew it was like a drug addiction. But I couldn`t get around it, because I kept thinking to myself I`m not addicted to food and that`s ironic to think that because you`re 716 pounds. But that`s the denial part that you`re thinking there`s no way I`m addicted to food.
And I had to find out for myself. I went on a journey to find out what this was all about. And actually I thought it was going to be about me eating right, me exercising. But I found out that this was about feeding something that was emotional, it was something psychological.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You are absolutely right and guess what? You`ve got a lot of company. No one`s immune to addiction, not even one of the world`s most influential women.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OPRAH WINFREY, HOST, "OPRAH": Now, as "powerful", quote, as I am in the world, that feeling is still there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
WINFREY: And that`s what the eating, the lettuce or the chips or the lasagna and all the food is really all about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Fame and fortune, no match for overwhelming societal forces. The CDC says America`s culture is obesogenic, which our culture encourages overeating and discourages physical activity. We`re being seduced 24/7 to overeat and eat the wrong food.
We spend billions every year on exercise equipment -- get us -- 83 percent of us don`t do a lick of exercise on any given day. We spend $40 billion on weight loss products and fad diets, we keep getting heavier.
Dr. Ian smith, what is the solution?
DR. IAN SMITH, MEDICAL EXPERT ON VH1`S "CELEBRITY FIT CLUB": Well the solution is people to look in the mirror and realize there is a problem and to realize that what we think now is a normal weight is not a normal weight actually. We are overweight as a society.
We have to reduce the size of our portions, we have to eat a lot more fruits and vegetables and we have to get out and become more physically active. This country has become a sedentary country over the last ten years. And it is killing us, literally.
You talk about billions of dollars; we spend $147 billion per year on obesity-related medical complications. So when we talk about health care reform, what we should be talking about is how do we deal with this obesity crisis, not just for adults but also for children.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Fast food addiction also affects the famous. Kirstie Alley shed major pounds as a spokesperson for a diet company and then she reportedly gained it all back.
Now famed (INAUDIBLE) director Kevin Smith was reportedly booted from an airplane because of his weight; he was outraged and complained.
Oscar nominee Gabourey Sidibe had a fast ride to fame that was overshadowed by her weight which actually became a topic of conversation at Oscar time.
Let`s listen to Robin Quivers and Howard Stern talking about Gabourey.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
HOWARD STERN, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Be honest with me, girl.
ROBIN QUIVERS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Yes, look in that room, who else do you look like? Those are the people who work all the time.
STERN: Yes, we`re talking about that chick, that poor chick.
QUIVERS: A brilliant career.
STERN: Oprah said you need to get help, because we don`t want to lose you. You`re a nice girl. We want you to get help.
QUIVERS: Let`s do an intervention right here, Hollywood.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Robin, you took some flak for that conversation. You know, there`s a debate. Some people insist being overweight or obese is a lifestyle choice and nobody else`s business. Others say it`s a food addiction, a disorder that`s wreaking havoc on the bells (ph) and others and costing taxpayers through increased health care costs.
What are your thoughts on all of this?
QUIVERS: Smoking is a lifestyle choice as well. Drug addiction is a lifestyle choice. We stop people from doing that, why is it ok for people to overeat? And eat out of control?
We see these people all the time, in the hospital, having problems, not being able to handle themselves in a situation where, you know there`s a crisis and eventually they can`t even get through their lives. It`s ok to say to somebody to stop drinking because you`re destroying your life. Why isn`t it ok to say to somebody stop eating because you`re destroying your life?
SMITH: Absolutely. Jane --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I absolutely agree. Go ahead.
SMITH: Jane, I just want to say that I agree with Robin 100 percent. As far as that conversation between she and Howard, it was very controversial. Wen I heard it, I agree with her in the sense of who is telling her beyond that you`re a great actress and congratulations and you get a chance to hang out with stars now. Who`s saying to her, you have to change the way you`re living because you`re going to die?
I too by the way feel the same way when I see her. Yes, I`m happy that she`s having success, but when I see her physically, I think to myself, oh, my goodness, her blood pressure, her cholesterol levels. I would love to help her off TV because this woman needs help. It`s the bottom line.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, what do -- go ahead.
QUIVERS: I do want to say, when I look at her, I say to myself, you know, I`m not a doctor, I can`t analyze her from that point of view. But I have been a heavier person and I was never at her size. I know how uncomfortable it was, how it was difficult to get dressed. How as I got older it started to affect me in terms of being able to move around, to get to places, to enjoy my life with other people. And I already know she`s suffering those consequences.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ruby? I want you to say something.
GETTINGER: I do -- I totally agree with this part of it. That people need to tell people they are overweight, they have got to get healthy; they`ve got to do something because people do not tell us that.
The doctors did not tell me that for years. And they actually apologized, my doctor apologized. He says because he said they did not know much about obesity. But the fact is, I was different, I went out and lived my life, even though I was in a wheelchair, and even though I couldn`t hardly breathe and stuff and I was dying. This is something that has taken control over you like alcohol.
And when people look at us, they don`t look at us like an alcoholic or a drug addict. They look at us judgmental and they`re prejudiced against it. They don`t look at it as an addiction where they need to get help for because the nice friends who were --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, once you bring in the fact of addiction, you cannot attack somebody because it`s a disorder that they`re not responsible for, but they can do something about it.
Please, everyone, fantastic star panel, stay right where you are. Our addiction is out of control, obesity killing Americans every day; how can we kick this fast food fixation?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Childhood obesity rates have tripled over the past three decades, nearly one in three children in this country are now overweight or obese.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANNY CAHILL, "BIGGEST LOSER" WINNER: Most of the time obese people are fooling themselves, they go -- I really don`t eat that much, but if you add it up, it`s a lot; and it`s a lot of greasy fast food things that are just packing on pound.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hi, I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell and we`re talking obesity. And I have to tell you, I am not just a recovering alcoholic, but I`m also a recovering sugar addict, so I`m -- I`m struggling with these issues as well.
Get this, 63 percent of American women would rather sleep, read or watch a movie than have sex.
Now, here`s something fascinating, that`s about the same percentage of Americans who are obese or overweight. Could there be a correlation, I wonder, Jennifer Gimenez, house manager of VH-1`s "Sober House". Do you think there is a connection there?
JENNIFER GIMENEZ, HOUSE MANAGER, VH1`S "SOBER HOUSE": Yes, if you actually, you know, for me, I remember when I used to be a model and I was a really great model and stuff and I could become whatever you wanted me to be, but when I looked in the mirror I saw an elephant.
And in my recovery process through everything that I`m recovering - - in recovery for, I`m learning to love myself inside first. And that was one of the greatest things which I have been able to get foundation and I`m moving forward from there.
But like the whole thing, like I didn`t feel beautiful. Like when I was heavy, like people were really mean to me, therefore I didn`t like myself anyways. Plus I was going through the transitions and -- and people were belittling me and at the same time like why would I want to go have sex with somebody? You know what I mean? Like let alone have to share myself intimate that way, like I don`t know who I am early in recovery, and yet I`m -- I`m trying to express myself intimately.
I really do believe that there is some correlation.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, and you know there`s a fabulous book --
QUIVERS: But Jane, Jane you bring up --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Go ahead --
QUIVERS: You bring up something that`s really important. People don`t realize when there`s no nutrition in the food you eat, you also don`t get a quality of energy. That affects you mentally and physically. Your body needs nutrition.
And when you don`t get that nutrition, your brain doesn`t work all that well either and you`re -- the biggest sex organ and the most important sex organ is your brain.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes and just by full disclosure, I have revealed a lot about myself. I could also tell you that I am a vegan and Robin as well is a vegan, and that means we eat a plant-based, we eat fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains.
Ok, go ahead, who wanted to say something?
HOWARD SAMUELS, RECOVERING ADDICT & ADDICTION SPECIALIST: Jane, me.
SAMUELS: Hi. You know, there`s a huge addiction to shame here that a lot of people don`t really understand, ok. Is that all these behaviors, these compulsive acts, where you can`t stop eating the cookie, you can`t stop eating the bread, there is a shame element. It`s an addiction to shame like the addiction to shame, with alcohol, with drugs, with food. And what has to happen, there needs to be a new philosophy, you need to be addicted to self-esteem and being able to do esteemable acts like being able to say no to the cookie, no the pancake, start to lose weight, start to look in the mirror, start to feel good about your new behavior.
As you build it and then you start to become a healthier well rounded spiritual person because then you can start to give that to others and help others which is what Robin is doing and the other doctor.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But here`s a problem, fast food is addictive. Ok?
QUIVERS: And not only is it addictive, it creates the syndrome.
GETTINGER: And it`s also the small people eating it too, but a lot of people gain weight from that. And the thing is.
QUIVERS: Well, you know what? Your --
GETTINGER: When you say a lot of shame is in this, he was right. I didn`t want to admit that I was a food addict. It took me forever to admit that because there`s shame in that.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, all right.
SMITH: But Jane, but Jane.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: One at a time guys, Robin.
QUIVERS: Wait a minute. Let me just say something. First of all, every addict has trouble admitting they`re an addict, that`s part of the problem of the addiction.
QUIVERS: You can either talk about the alcoholic or the drug addict in the same way. They can`t admit that they have a problem, that`s number one. Number two, part of the addiction is the lowering of self-esteem, which creates the syndrome.
You come out of your high, you feel bad, you eat more or you take more drugs because you want to -- you want to get rid of that bad feeling. So it`s a syndrome that is created by the offending substance that keeps you locked into that mechanism. And that`s why you have to withdraw from the offending products, the food or the drug in order to gain your sanity around it.
SMITH: And Jane, Jane --
GETTINGER: You`re totally right.
SMITH: Jane I want to also say, people also don`t address the issue of why they`ve become addicted or why they`re overeating. People are unhappy. I`ve to work with a lot of people on "Celebrity Fit Club" and through my books; the reason why I wrote this new book "Happy" is because I have found that people who overeat or who are addicted to food have emotional issues that they`re not addressing. And so I believe that if people understood what real happiness was, and started attaching their happiness to the right things then it would lead to them to stop doing a lot of the emotional and distress eating that you now see in obesity.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes and one of the interesting --
GETTINGER: In my journey I found out --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Go ahead.
GIMENEZ: Yes can I say something. Actually of what you just said, Dr. Ian Smith, is that I -- I feel the same way. like I write down what I eat and why I eat what I`m eating and I had to divorce myself from salt, although we sometimes date every now and then. Like there`s certain things I`ve had to do, and it`s hard, but if I want to take my power back I have to go for it.
And people -- people a lot of people say, oh that`s just too much work. No I want to own my life. I want to be present and I want to be able to live the best I can.
But in that process, I have to write down what I`m eating. I cheat every now and then. Yes, and I don`t feel good afterwards, so I go, ok it was kind of like a little bit mini-relapse but I get to choose my -- my next action. And that`s the gift I get today because I`m aware of what I`m doing and why I`m doing it. It`s progress, not perfection.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: There`s a great book called --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That says, that if you want to find out who you really are and what`s really bugging you, stop eating and the emotions will come up.
GETTINGER: That`s exactly right.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And that`s very, very similar to stop drugging and the emotions will come up.
GETTINGER: That`s what happened with me.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Go ahead, Ruby. Ruby, go.
GETTINGER: That is the truth. God help me, that`s the truth because that`s what happened to me. When you stop eating, you get sober, whatever it is. When you get sober, you start figuring out what`s really wrong with you.
QUIVERS: And that`s what people don`t realize. When you stop the addiction, you actually get a better life. They have this fantasy that it`ll be worse.
GETTINGER: Oh, my gosh, yes.
QUIVERS: It will be, I`ll enjoy my life less, but actually you get your life back.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I love this discussion, panel. Hang in there. We`re just getting started.
More on the battle with obesity in America -- the solutions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAHILL: If you`re overweight and you`re gaining weight, it`s because you`re eating more calories than you`re burning. You have got to figure out what you`re putting in your body. And you have got to lower that to a point where it`s below what you`re burning in your exercise.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was the winner of last season`s biggest loser. Common sense, right? But it hasn`t sunk in with two-thirds of us.
There is good news though. More high-profile Americans are throwing their weight behind combating the obesity crisis. Master chef Mario Batali (ph), famous for promoting pork dishes has now joined the meatless Monday movement; a campaign where meat eaters promise to give it up one day a week as we`ve mentioned. I give it up entirely and so does Robin Quivers.
Robin, you have battled your weight. Tell us about your diet now and how it has helped you stay fit.
QUIVERS: Well, it -- basically it keeps me from all of those things that would trigger me to overeat. That`s number one. And I just wanted to address something that --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But what do you eat?
QUIVERS: I eat mostly vegetables and some plants and, you know, mostly plants -- all grains, whatever. But mostly I eat vegetables; I eat a lot of raw food. You know, but I don`t have to think about calories anymore, I don`t have to worry about overeating. All of that`s gone for me because I got rid of the food that had no nutrition in it.
When your last sound bite the man said that it was just the calories, that you have to lower the calories but it`s also the content of those calories.
SMITH: That`s right.
QUIVERS: When you`re eating empty food, your body is still hungering for nutrition.
GETTINGER: Thank you.
QUIVERS: And it keeps asking for food over and over and over again.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I see Ruby shaking her head. Yes, Ruby?
GETTINGER: It`s so true. Because, you know, it`s not about only counting the calories because I could eat sugars in that. I can never have sugar again as long as I live because I`m addicted to sugar. It gives me a rush. And that`s something I`ve not put in my mouth for two years and two months. I cannot do it, you know.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And Jennifer, you agree, as well?
GIMENEZ: Yes, I do. I do. I think that it`s true what Ruby and Robin both said. Like, you can eat other things that are not going to be nutritional for you. I work out a lot. I burn a lot of calories, but I need to intake healthy calories. And I have to be aware of what that is for me.
I would love to eat a chocolate bar at McDonald`s, but I can`t.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I agree. That`s why I recently gave up sugar and now I identify as a sugar addict. Hi, I`m Jane, I`m a recovering alcoholic and I`m a sugar addict. You know, I have a daily reprieve from my addiction.
QUIVERS: The food industry has done a great job of confusing us as to what food is and what good food as compared to bad food. Because even when we are dieting, they`ll just say it`s calories, calories, calories. You don`t have to worry about what those calories are. And that is absolutely not true. You cannot survive on junk food. I don`t care how low you cut the calories.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dr. Ian?
SMITH: Yes, I agree with Robin 100 percent. And what I love about the way Robin has approached this is that Robin is not on some commercial -- with some weight loss commercial being paid $1 million to lose weight. Robin realized that she was making bad decisions. She needed to make smarter decisions and she has done that and she`s now understanding food a lot better.
I believe that really the best way to lose weight and to own your weight loss is by making minor changes in what you`re doing. Not drastic changes all the time, but you have to own these changes and make sense of them. And that`s why I love the way Robin`s done.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re out of time. I wish we had several hours. You`ve got to all come back. This is a fabulous special; such an important topic.
You`re watching ISSUES on HLN.