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The Problem of Our Time: Addiction
Aired April 7, 2011 - 21:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST: Here`s what we are talking about tonight.
The problem of our time -- at least I consider it to be -- addiction. Americans are drinking and drugging themselves in really record numbers. Why?
Recovered addict Todd Bridges is here. He will help us understand what I believe is one of the most misunderstood illnesses ever.
Plus, a woman whose rare disease could have crushed her, but it didn`t. Why some people are positive and resilient no matter what.
And I will be answering your questions about, well, everything. Let`s get started.
All right, everybody. I`ve got a lot of interesting ground to cover tonight, so I want you to stay with me.
First of all, I want to alert you to the fact that I`m going to be taking your calls, comments, Twitter, Facebook comments, later on in the show. It`s something I want to on a regular basis.
Also, it`s National Alcohol Screening today. So today we`re going to look a little bit at addiction. I want to help you get what addiction is all about.
And you`ll notice I use the terms "addiction" and "alcoholism" kind of interchangeably. It`s just the drug of choice we`re talking about, alcohol being the most common addiction in our culture today. The legal one.
People simply just can`t stop using a drug or alcohol when they have addiction because they want to or because their families want them to. There`s quite a bit more to it. And we`re going to get into all that tonight.
Now, David Arquette is on his way to recovery. He announced today that he is 100 days sober. I want to congratulate David.
Any of you that know David, he`s one of the greatest guys out there. I`ve known him for many, many years. But 100 days is a big deal.
The first part of recovery, people are brittle, they are fragile, and it`s not about just, hey, 100 days without doing a drug. It is the process of recovery. And this takes time.
We`re going to get into that tonight with a group of recovering people.
But first, Todd Bridges. He can relate. He`s the star of the popular `70s and `80s sitcom "Diff`rent Strokes." His childhood was marred by abuse, molestation, and then a life of drug abuse and crime.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "DIFF`RENT STROKES")
GARY COLEMAN, ACTOR: What you talking about, Willard?
(END VIDEO CLIP, "DIFF`RENT STROKES")
PINSKY (voice-over): Who can forget the character who inspired that famous line on "Diff`rent Strokes"? Todd Bridges was the vivacious young actor who played Willis in the hit show. He was flying high in those days, one of America`s most popular child stars. But behind the scenes, Todd`s life was riddled with abuse -- physical, verbal and sexual -- and the beginning of his own drug problem.
When "Diff`rent Strokes" went off the air, Todd`s life spiraled out of control.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The search warrant on the person of Todd Bridges - -
PINSKY: His star-studded adolescence of fame and fortune became an adulthood of addiction and crime.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Approximately 1.5 grams of methamphetamine, a loaded .9 millimeter handgun.
PINSKY: After a long, painful road that involved pimping and dealing, Bridges obtained sobriety. He is now a successful husband, father and author.
PINSKY: And Todd Bridges wrote that book. He chronicles his experiences. It`s called "Killing Willis."
It`s hard to look at that stuff, isn`t it?
TODD BRIDGES, ACTOR: Yes. Sometimes to look back at that stuff really kind of makes you get weirded up. But, you know, you realize that was me, and those are the things that I did. And I`m not ashamed of it anymore.
PINSKY: You know, Todd, you have one of the best methamphetamine stories. We shared a little bit back stage, but we haven`t seen each other in, like, 10 years. You told me this story -- maybe it was -- it`s almost 20 years ago.
BRIDGES: Yes. It was 20 years ago. Yes.
PINSKY: Yes, my friend.
And he told me this story about methamphetamine use, and it was so characteristic of where that drug takes people, I want to ask him to share it with you here today.
BRIDGES: Well, what happened was I just got finished shooting up methamphetamine, and topped it off with crack.
PINSKY: Of course.
BRIDGES: Because you`ve always got to top it off that way when you`re a drug addict. And all of a sudden, these little men started coming out of the ground and running towards the fireplace. You know, and I`m like, what are you doing?
And I started chasing them and looking at them. So I went and got my gun and I started shooting at them.
I shot two of them. They fell down. Some came out of the wall. I picked them up, pulled them away.
So I had to find them. I was like, I`ve got to find these things. And then all of a sudden, I realized that my grandmother had created this factory underground.
PINSKY: So I want to clarify this for people who don`t know, because you`re telling it like it actually happened.
PINSKY: You experienced it like it did.
BRIDGES: It`s still in my head.
PINSKY: Yes, like it happened.
BRIDGES: Exactly what happened.
PINSKY: All right. So here`s what he`s talking about.
Methamphetamine is a stimulant, it`s a common drug of addiction these days. I mean, God knows everyone hears about it. But it almost always causes something called an amphetamine psychosis, which is what we`re talking about here, where people become paranoid and delusional. They always believe that people close to them are plotting against them.
BRIDGES: Yes, exactly.
PINSKY: In your case, the belief you had was that your grandmother had raised your house up --
PINSKY: -- and built a factory under it.
BRIDGES: A factory to make these little green men. You remember those "Stretch Armstrong" men? That`s how they looked, but they were green.
PINSKY: To come torment you.
BRIDGES: Yes. And they came up, and they were tormenting me all through my house.
PINSKY: But that -- I think the important part of this story is that wasn`t your bottom.
PINSKY: That wasn`t enough to say, jeez, I think I`ve got a drug problem here, may I ought to do something.
BRIDGES: That wasn`t enough to make me decide that I had -- well, ironically, too, during that same week after I told my mom this story she had actually -- she goes, "I want you to talk to someone on the phone." I go, "OK."
So I`m on the phone. And this is where I got a little bit of clarity.
I`m talking to this guy. And I go, "Your name is who?" And he goes, "My name is Dr. Wilson (ph)." And I went, "Got to go," because I knew it was the guy in the white jacket. And my mom thought I completely lost my mind at that point, and I really had at that point.
PINSKY: And, in fact, you were also telling me earlier today that you thought that Charlie is in a similar condition.
BRIDGES: Oh, yes.
PINSKY: That you`re looking at him doing what you did.
BRIDGES: Yes. I really believe that he`s going through a cocaine psychosis now where he`s very manic. And either you go through the manic stage --
PINSKY: But you said the same thing, which was just, I don`t need help.
BRIDGES: I had said the exact same thing. He said that AA sucks, it doesn`t work for me. I thought that I was different.
PINSKY: Special powers.
BRIDGES: Oh, yes. I could just close my eyes and it would stop. And I would get sobriety for two weeks. I`d get sobriety for a week, or a couple days, and thought, hey, I`m making. Hey, I`ve got to celebrate. And then right back out again.
So, unfortunately, he has so much money, he may never hit a financial bottom. But eventually he will hit a mental bottom.
PINSKY: And it makes you and I angry to see people supporting this, because it`s allowed him to spiral.
BRIDGES: Yes. I really get tired of the way America supports the tragic people who are doing crazy things out there, making them think that`s OK to continue with this addiction. And I really believe that if we cut him off and stop supporting him, stop going to see his shows, let him deal with himself, he would finally get somewhere.
PINSKY: But as it is, it`s going to end in something tragic.
BRIDGES: Of course. Something tragic. That`s always the way it goes.
So, in your case, where was that tragic point? Because what we`re talking about here -- let`s just clarity. I want people at home really to understand what we`re talking about. So I`m going to try to explain it as we go along here.
When you`re trying to get to an addict in the condition that, say, Todd was in, you can`t reason with them, you can`t talk with them. They have to hit a moment -- what we call a moment of clarity or a moment of change.
PINSKY: That`s when they become willing.
So what was that moment for you?
BRIDGES: For me, it was when I was -- I went to court one more time. And I remember --
PINSKY: What number was that at court?
BRIDGES: That was, like, number 50, probably, at court.
PINSKY: Fifty courts. Still not enough.
BRIDGES: No. But no convictions.
And every time I was in the police car, I always blamed something else. Like, I would go, OK, it wasn`t the cocaine this time, it was the pot. Or it wasn`t the pot. Maybe it was the pot mixed with the cocaine and methamphetamine. I always had an excuse of what it was.
PINSKY: Rationalization, blaming, minimizing.
BRIDGES: Yes. Never accept the responsibility that it was, you know, my choice and my fault. Never accepted that.
PINSKY: Or that you had a condition that needed help that had a solution.
BRIDGES: Exactly. I had known about the solution, but didn`t believe that it could work for me because --
PINSKY: You were different.
BRIDGES: -- I never believed anyone who stood there and goes, I`ve got 18 years sobriety, I was like, you ain`t got that, you liar. You`ve got a year, you`ve got nothing. I always would try to downplay them because I knew that I didn`t have it, and I didn`t want them making me feel bad about myself.
PINSKY: We have one minute. What was the moment of clarity?
BRIDGES: The moment of clarity was when I was laying if rehab and I got out of control with a hammer, and all of a sudden they locked me up in four points with a big diaper. And I realized --
PINSKY: So you were lying in your own excrement and urine in four- point restraint.
PINSKY: And thought to yourself, oh my God --
BRIDGES: Oh, my God. This was a far cry from Willis Jackson on TV and something had to change.
PINSKY: I`ve got to do something different.
BRIDGES: Yes. And then, all of a sudden, a light hit me and God came into my heart, and filled me with the knowledge that, if you just shut your mouth and listen, I will teach you and show you and put people in your direction how to get sobriety.
PINSKY: So we talk about just putting your butt in a seat, take the cotton out of your ears, stick the cotton in your mouth --
BRIDGES: Exactly. And listen to what they had to tell me. And everything they said from then on had been the truth. And it helped me get sober. And I`m at 18 years sobriety today.
PINSKY: That`s excellent. Well, we`re going to add you to a panel coming up here.
BRIDGES: OK. Great.
PINSKY: When we come back, we`re going to add Janice Dickinson and Mackenzie Phillips and somebody from my staff, Shelly. They will help us understand the grip of addiction.
And later, we`re going to meet Lizzie (ph). Her positive outlook really is going to inspire you. You`ve got to see this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "CELEBRITY REHAB")
MACKENZIE PHILLIPS, ACTRESS: I`m done. Because if I`m not done, I`m dead.
PINSKY: How old were you when you started smoking pot?
PHILLIPS: Probably 11 or 12.
PINSKY: How much Ambien do you take every night?
JANICE DICKINSON, MODEL: One a night, doctor-prescribed. And that`s the extent of it. And the Ambien because I travel so much to Europe.
I had no idea how strung out I was.
SHELLY SPRAGUE, CHEMICAL DEPENDENCY TECHNICIAN: And I feel like I don`t really have control of the unit, which isn`t good for anybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP, "CELEBRITY REHAB")
PINSKY: Well, two things out of those pieces of tape. One is doctor- prescribed does not necessarily mean it`s safe. And, also, when an addict believes they`re going to die, that`s when they become workable.
Now, listen, if you have something to tell us here, got a question, you can ask it. Go to Facebook, e-mail, and Twitter and CNN.com/DrDrew.
Former child star Todd Bridges is sharing his journey from addiction to sobriety here.
And joining us now are a few of my favorite alumni from "Celebrity Rehab," Janice Dickinson, former model -- current model -- recovering from a prescription pill addiction; Mackenzie Phillips, a former child star who has battled drug addiction much of her life. She`s the author of "High on Arrival," a very, very courageous book. I suggest you all should read that. I really think that`s been an important book this year.
And Shelly Sprague, certified chemical dependency counselor and my resident technician on "Celebrity Rehab." What people don`t know about Shelly -- well, I`m going to go right to you first, Shelly.
What they don`t know about you, it seems, in spite of you telling your stories repeatedly on the unit, that you, yourself, are a recovering addict. Can you tell your story a little bit?
SPRAGUE: Yes. Yes. And it`s good to be here. Thank you so much for inviting me.
I am a polysubstance addict. I`ve been recovered for 15 years, just over 15 years. My drugs of choice were heroin and crack cocaine.
PINSKY: And they took you to a fairly low level. People seeing you now can`t quite really conceptualize that you went to some awful places with that.
SPRAGUE: Terrible. I lost everything, Drew. I lost everything.
I had a hair career. I was doing moderately well, functioning. And I lost everything. I could no longer function.
I could no longer leave the house. I could no longer see my family. I could no longer do my job.
I was basically holed up in my apartment that wasn`t mine. I owed everybody money. I could not function.
PINSKY: And one thing about your story that I want people to know also is you didn`t get a straight line into recovery. You went sort of into the psychiatric system, got put on bills, then become a benzodiazepine -- which is a valium-like drug -- this is what we want to talk about a little bit here on the panel -- became addicted to that, and then withdrew from that. And in withdrawal, were labeled with all sorts of psychiatric conditions.
SPRAGUE: Well, in my addiction, I had been using 100 milligrams of valium and had no idea --
PINSKY: Every day?
SPRAGUE: Every day.
SPRAGUE: And that was just on top of heroin and on top of cocaine and booze.
PINSKY: Yes. And so when you withdrew from all that, the withdrawal --
SPRAGUE: I had no idea what that was going to entail as far as the post-acute withdrawal.
PINSKY: And we`ve got somebody here who`s going through that, Ms. Dickinson.
PINSKY: You`re in the middle of that, really, quite frankly.
DICKINSON: Oh, Drew, call me Janice.
PINSKY: All right. Janice. But you were taking Ambien and Ativan, as I recall, another benzodiazepine-type medication.
DICKINSON: Correct. Slipping occasional Xanax because I am a soccer mom, as well as traveling back and forth to London.
PINSKY: Boy, I think this is an important thing for people at home, is that we think about these medicines very casually. I challenge anyone out there to look in their medicine cabinet. I guarantee you, you`ve got prescriptions for something like that in there. And by the way, we`re giving that message to our kids, too, that these are casual medicines, no big deal, they`re just left over after my dental procedures, whatever.
PHILLIPS: And let`s not forget that those kids are way smarter than we think, and it`s very dangerous. They can open up your medicine cabinet and pull them out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And their friends.
PHILLIPS: And their friends can. And I think that`s something that parents really need to be aware of. Call those medicines out. Get rid of them.
DICKINSON: Coupled with menopause, I just could not stop. In fact, when I went up to you at a finale at an event, and I said, "Drew, I really have a problem, and I can`t stop the pills," and you said to me, gently, "I can help you with that."
And you know what? We did celebrity rehab and everyone saw how you took the blood test. You saw what -- the amount that I was taking and just how much that I needed it. Or so I thought I needed it. But then you were vehemently against the doctor-prescribed medication.
PINSKY: Well, then, once you`re in withdrawal, the withdrawal takes about a year.
DICKINSON: Almost eight months.
PINSKY: You`re still very, very sensitive. Yes.
I mean, that first year of sobriety, Todd, is extremely difficult.
BRIDGES: The first year of sobriety is very difficult because you have a lot of anxiety continually. And different things can bring up anxiety. It could be people, places or things, or it can be situations you get put in.
PHILLIPS: Right. Also the protracted physical withdrawal.
PINSKY: Yes. It`s just incredible.
BRIDGES: Well, from pills I know you have a lot of anxiety withdrawal that will naturally --
DICKINSON: Yes. It`s the nerves. My hands couldn`t stop shaking -- would stop trembling and shaking.
PINSKY: And people don`t -- again, they need to give this time. And while you`re going through this period, you have to have a lot of support. And we have programs for that.
But let`s go to a Twitter question. This is from Liz. "Does every addict require rehab?" And she then goes on to ask -- this is a great question -- "Do psych meds and recovery go hand in hand?"
For me, I had you start taking Depakote in the very beginning because --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is that?
BRIDGES: Do you want some?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I need it. I think I have --
BRIDGES: My brain has stopped producing (INAUDIBLE) acid. And I had to re-kick that back in again.
PINSKY: Literally, the way I think of it is this -- that when you`re in this fragile state, and your brain is going back to normal, which can take up to a year, we want to make recovery possible. And there are nonaddictive medications that can --
DICKINSON: Which I`m on.
PINSKY: Which you`re on. You`re taking Aronsen (ph), for instance, which is something that suppresses somebody`s withdrawal symptoms.
PINSKY: Lexapro. Get the mood back up. So, while your brain heals, it`s actually possible to get into recovery, because sometimes the symptoms are so overwhelming, it`s not realistic.
DICKINSON: Oh my God. Oh my God.
PHILLIPS: Well, you know, I have a bit of a problem with that. I mean, I think that there are people who absolutely need those kind of medications. For me, I would have people say, well, you know, it would be great if we could put you on this or that. And I just didn`t want any of that in my body. And I was able to get through that early time.
SPRAGUE: If you`re able to get through it, I think that that`s the best way to go, clearly. I have had to take medicines for depression because I had damaged myself to such a degree with the medicines that I was -- or the drugs -- street drugs that I was taking -- for periods of time I was so depressed, I couldn`t even function. I couldn`t move. In my early sobriety, it wasn`t possible.
PHILLIPS: No, I get that. I mean, I know that there are situations where --
BRIDGES: And mine was also.
PINSKY: It was impossible.
BRIDGES: It was impossible in the beginning because I would just react to things. I would never think about it.
PHILLIPS: Me too.
PINSKY: Well, people ask me what I thought for Charlie, and I said Depakote, because that`s what we normally do in this kind of --
BRIDGES: Oh, exactly. Exactly.
BRIDGES: It gives you that second to think before you make an action or you say something.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I need that.
SPRAGUE: I took Depakote the first year of recovery.
PINSKY: Now, Mack (ph), for you, though, pills -- I`m so glad you don`t want to take pills, because pills was part of what sent you back over to heroin.
PHILLIPS: Yes. I had a really bad chronic pain. I was diagnosed with brain vasculitis and all these crazy things.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why? Were you crazy?
PHILLIPS: I was walking with a cane. I was in so much pain, and I started taking the medications as prescribed. And then, you know --
PHILLIPS: -- if two is good, then five is better. And the next thing you know, I`m taking 30 opiate pills in the morning.
DICKINSON: Thirty opiate pills in the morning?
PHILLIPS: And then what happened was I got scared.
PINSKY: Janice is jealous.
DICKINSON: No, I`m not. No, no. I never liked that stuff. I never liked it.
PHILLIPS: So many people go from this sort of hillbilly heroin straight on to real heroin because it`s cheaper.
PINSKY: OK, guys, we have --
BRIDGES: But that`s why you really have to be -- for me and my addiction, my sobriety, if I have pains, it`s ibuprofen or that`s it. You just need to deal with some of the pain or that`s it.
PHILLIPS: Look, here`s the thing. In recovery, you need to be able to make a distinction between discomfort and pain.
BRIDGES: You`ve got to have pain.
BRIDGES: I have pains, too.
PINSKY: Melissa (ph), let me do something for people at home, because this is getting a little sort of Rorschach-ish a little bit here. So let me just --
DICKINSON: On a lighter note --
PINSKY: No, no. Let me just conceptualize this for people.
We`re talking about a disease addiction, not drug abuse. Drug abuse is using drugs that could potentially be dangerous, but you don`t have a progression and a loss of control.
If someone loses control, that`s addiction. And that`s a brain disorder.
And in that condition, the basic motivational states of the brain are broken. Literally, the survival system is usurped by the desire to use drugs.
Sound familiar, guys?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
PINSKY: And as such, things like thinking and reasoning and volition serve the distorted motivation. So you start thinking it`s a good idea to do all kinds of good things -- to take the painkillers, to shoot the green men. To -- what kind of thoughts did you have, Shelly, that were stinking at the time?
SPRAGUE: Well, I thought that I could just drink and not use heroin. I thought I could just smoke pot and not use crack. And all of these ideas that were just completely useless.
PINSKY: And when everybody told you, you needed help, I thought I didn`t, my thinking told me I didn`t.
SPRAGUE: I thought I could do it my way. I could do it my way. I could figure this out my own way.
PINSKY: Janice, go ahead. Last comment.
DICKINSON: My thinking led me to isolation, though, because, you know, I`ve been, like my friends here, in the public eye for so long, since such a young age. I started to isolate.
I was always there for my children. But isolation and the desperation, not wanting to just go out and buy Oxycontin or heroin. It was just I couldn`t stop the pain meds.
BRIDGES: Isolation is the devil`s work.
PINSKY: It really is. And all of your diseases are doing pushups while we go through this, even this conversation.
So when we come back, what point did our guests lose control? And later, the incredible Lizzie (ph).
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "CELEBRITY REHAB")
PHILLIPS: I have a pretty good trauma history.
PINSKY: Yes. Can you talk about it?
PHILLIPS: I prefer not to actually.
PHILLIPS: Don`t talk to me that way, Carrie Anne (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don`t know who I am. I don`t like when you to talk to me, lady.
PHILLIPS: You`re a rude little girl.
I started smoking tar (ph), then I realized you could -- to deal with the pain. And I realized you could shoot it. And I was speedballing for two years.
(END VIDEO CLIP, "CELEBRITY REHAB")
PINSKY: I am back with Todd Bridges and my good friends from "Celebrity Rehab," Janice Dickinson, Mackenzie Phillips, and Shelly Sprague. They`re all recovering addicts, and they`re here to help us get our head around addiction.
Now, before we went to break, I wanted to pay out that we were going to discuss when you guys lost control, or what was that moment where you went from sort of feeling like you were in control to no longer being in control?
Shelly, you`re smiling.
SPRAGUE: Well, I`m thinking, you said a moment. I think it was definitely about a six-month process. Completely --
PINSKY: Well, in a reality, you probably lost control two years before that. You just didn`t consider it anymore.
SPRAGUE: Oh, I recognized in my recovery -- after all this time I realize-d that at 17 I was a full-blown alcoholic.
We have another question from Twitter. This is from Melissa. "How does addiction start and why?"
It`s actually a really good question. And I`m not sure anybody can answer that with great accuracy except to say this is a genetic disorder.
About 60 percent of this disease is accounted for on the basis of genetics, alone. And sometimes it`s just you were in the wrong place at the wrong time. The way people break it down is they say, well, sometimes it`s to feel good. But many times it`s to feel better.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
BRIDGES: And I always say experimentation leads to addiction.
PINSKY: Well, that`s the feel good, but you --
PHILLIPS: But let`s not forget that addicts are starting from a doctor`s prescription pad.
PINSKY: Very often.
PHILLIPS: The epidemic of prescription drug abuse is huge.
PINSKY: Yes, ma`am.
DICKINSON: I don`t know. I used from a very young age. You know, I started with the cigarettes, then it went on to wine, then it went on to Quaaludes and acid.
PINSKY: But Janice, what I`ll remind you of is you really had a need to feel better because of all the trauma in your childhood.
DICKINSON: Yes. My dad was a bad guy. He was naughty with my older sister.
PINSKY: Trauma in childhood? Trauma in childhood? Trauma in childhood?
BRIDGES: Trauma in childhood.
PINSKY: So, Shelly, you were going to ask Todd something about the life of a Hollywood child star. What did you want to know?
SPRAGUE: Well, I was privy to watching your story sort of unfold, as well as yours as well. And, of course, I only knew what was being projected.
So what I thought, you know -- and correct me if I`m wrong -- is not having a sort of childhood where you`re, you know, not so stressed, it would just seem like being a Hollywood child star would be so stressful.
BRIDGES: But I had a great life as a child except for those things that went wrong. I played little league baseball, Pop Warner football. But what happened to me was, as a child, my father didn`t protect me like he should have. And that`s what happened.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.
BRIDGES: And when I looked to my father for protection after this guy molested me, I went to my dad and told my mom and dad what happened. My mom wanted to kill the guy. My dad stayed friends with him.
BRIDGES: So --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That was society.
BRIDGES: So my addiction in the beginning was to hurt my dad. You see, I did it -- I`m going to destroy you, blah, blah, blah -- not realizing that that was a dumb move, that I`m going to be the addict later on, and then I became a full-blown addict.
PINSKY: All right.
DICKINSON: I`ll tell you what happened to me. I was able to forgive him through working with Shelly and a 12-step program. I was able to forgive myself and then forgive him.
BRIDGES: Oh, I had to do that. And it`s --
PINSKY: It`s a long process. I always tell people that if you have bad enough addiction that you need to see me or Shelly, there`s almost 100 percent probability of childhood trauma. When you ask what causes it, well, that`s a common triggering agent in this genetic disorder.
When we come back, managing sobriety is a day-by-day 24-hour process. I`ll ask our guests how they manage their sobriety and how they sustain it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here`s another one.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Great.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, here`s another one.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. Oh, Lord. OK.
DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST (voice-over): My first priority this morning is checking in with Janice. Tough night. Whoa, whoa, whoa.
How you feeling?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m really wobble.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shut the (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shelly?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can`t take this. It`s really messing with me. I`m trying to use my tools to speak to him. I don`t know what to do. I`m ready to get leave rehab. I`m ready to walk out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It took me 26 years to get sober.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Twenty-six years just behaving inappropriately.
PINSKY (on-camera): Topic today is addiction. We want you to walk away really understanding what this thing is. I`m back with my celebrity guests. All of them are recovering addicts, Todd Bridges, Janice Dickinson, Mackenzie Phillips, and Shelly Sprague.
Now, they wanted me to say something in the prompter that I made you, guys, all look at because it made us all laugh, which was basically how do you resist temptation? How do you sustain your sobriety? It just goes at the core of how people just don`t understand this thing we call addiction and how people stay sober.
MACKENZIE PHILLIPS, RECOVERING ADDICT: You can`t.
PINSKY: If you can`t, it`s not about strength, it`s not about will.
PHILLIPS: People think it`s a moral issue. People think it`s an issue of will power.
PINSKY: Please don`t go down that path because that one I can`t tolerate. Let`s try to help them understand. If they have a loved one at home that is struggling with addiction, what`s the first order of business for the patient and for the loved one?
TODD BRIDGES, RECOVERING ADDICT: One of the things I always say is, please don`t blame the patient. Blame the addiction.
PINSKY: That`s right.
BRIDGES: That`s one thing I say. It takes the anger out of it.
PHILLIPS: That`s exactly what I was going to say. Don`t point the finger. It`s a family disease. I mean, everybody gets sick.
JANICE DICKINSON, RECOVERING ADDICT: Yes, but in the interim, the family thinks it`s their fault.
DICKINSON: A lot of the time.
PINSKY: So, everybody in the family, everybody connected to and near the identified addict needs to do some sort of treatment themselves, takes care of themselves. Al-Anon program is an excellent choice, and don`t just attend the meetings. Get a sponsor. Work the steps, yourself.
BRIDGES: Al-Anon therapist, and you will stop care taking for the patient.
PINSKY: That will change -- the way I felt -- you, guys, back me up with this. The way I tell people to understand this is think of the disease as the plant in the little shop of horrors. And if you go in the shop with the plant on your own, you`re going in the plant.
PINSKY: So, you got to have a golden cord, somebody there with you. That`s your Al-Anon program or your therapist or whatever. I mean, imagine what it was like dealing with Todd. That`s not Todd. This is Todd. This is Todd.
BRIDGES: In fact, my brother saw me on the street in my disease, and he said -- I don`t remember -- he said he didn`t recognize me, and I didn`t recognize him. And he said he thought I was just some ghetto guy who was just lost his mind, drug dealer. He didn`t know who I was. And I didn`t know who he was. So, that shows you -- no, that`s how far I was gone.
DICKINSON: Dr. Drew. Dr. Drew.
DICKINSON: So, when you say this, how, we need to tell men and women and children, you know, how they can do it in their local communities.
PINSKY: Go. Speak right down the barrel here. Tell them.
DICKINSON: You guys, go to your local -- just go to your local chapter of alcoholics anonymous and just sit in on a meeting. You know, just go. Because if you go to your doctor, he`ll re-prescribe other drugs to keep you in this, you know, disease (ph).
PINSKY: Well, let me say, do you want to speak to the 11th tradition as long as we`re --
PHILLIPS: We always maintain --
PINSKY: Yes. So, we`re not saying --
DICKINSON: Yes, but it`s a 12-step program. 12-step program. Excuse me. I`m new in all this.
BRIDGES: They really will yell at you. We`ll go to a meeting and you just blow up in a mop, and hey, man. I`m sorry dude. Sorry.
DICKINSON: You know, attend a local 12-step program. That will help.
PINSKY: And I would say, find physicians or counselors --
SHELLY SPRAGUE, USED HEROIN AND COCAINE: Yes. You first need to reach out for help and you need to be assessed professionally to find out what exactly you do need to do for your particular addiction where you`re at in your progression of addiction. Everybody is different.
PINSKY: And we would say look for an abstinence-based program if you`re identified as an addict. But the question is, I think people at home would be asking, I know my husband needs help. I`ve been telling him about it. His doctor told him about it. He won`t do it. What can I do? How can I make him get better?
PHILLIPS: You have to change yourself.
PINSKY: An addict has to be willing to do it.
DICKINSON: You can`t do it alone. You can`t do it alone.
BRIDGES: An addict has to be willing to do it.
PINSKY: Well, I want him to do it. It`s killing you. It`s destroying our family.
BRIDGES: An addict has come to his bottom whether it`s financially, mentally, physical, he is not going to find recovery.
SPRAGUE: What I have found is a trifecta of consequences that does create the moment of I`m going to get help.
PHILLIPS: For me, it was --
PINSKY: What is the trifecta? Like, losing children, losing freedom, losing health?
SPRAGUE: Yes, exactly.
PINSKY: Something like that.
SPRAGUE: Those three things. Generally, it`s three things. One thing --
PINSKY: What do you tell the moms out there? Wait a minute, guys. As a mom that is -- that something they can tolerate because their fantasy is if I don`t stop this, if I let those three things happen, my kid`s going to die of this. And they`re kind of right. It could happen.
BRIDGES: Well, that`s the consequence. My mother had to the point to where she had accepted that if I die that way, she`d rather her die trying to get me sober than die helping me. She completely cut me off.
PINSKY: I understand it you stepped over her -- you stepped over her lifeless body to go do drugs.
BRIDGES: Interesting thing was my mom had bailed me out of jail -
PINSKY: Well, that`s not the right thing to do.
BRIDGES: No, no.
PINSKY: Don`t bail them out.
BRIDGES: That`s before she had gone to Al-Anon. She bailed me out of jail one more time again. I talked to her. They tricked her into it. When she came and saw me, I was green and just -- I weighed like 115 pounds. And she looks at me. She passes out. And I said, all right, mom, thinking about my mom, and I stepped over her to go back to where I was to start using again.
But see, that`s why jail is not a place. Jail is not going to stop you. When I was in jail for nine months, the whole time that I was -- long story. That`s another different show. When I was in jail for nine months, the whole time, I kept thinking when I get out of here I`m going to do this, I`m going to use drug, this drug. This is why jail is not a place.
You have to come to that conclusion in your head that I`m done. I am tired -- sick and tired of being sick and tired. I`m not doing this anymore to make a change. And until that person comes to that, I always say, back away, give them room and let them do what they need to do until they find recovery.
PINSKY: Would it be right to try to precipitate consequences? Because in their distorted state, they can`t be reached rationally. They can`t be reached through words, but you can create consequences.
SPRAGUE: I think it`s very important to create a consequences and to not enable. That is the fastest way to a bottom for your child or for your spouse. If you keep bailing people out and you keep softening those consequences, you keep paying those bills and making those excuses, they never have to face it.
BRIDGES: Well, the last time I call my mom on the phone when I was in jail, and I go, mom, she goes where are -- goodbye. Click. That was it. Let me take to realize that.
PINSKY: Take a Facebook question here. This is from Laurie. She says my nephew is getting a shot every 30 days to stop cravings for alcohol. Is this something new? Yes, Vivitrol -
DICKINSON: Does that work?
PINSKY: Intramuscular naltrexone. It has some utility, has good research behind it. But, listen, guys, you know, we`re trying to find every angle we can to help people get to the point where they can find sobriety. There`s no magic pill. This may be somewhat helpful in helping people sustain their sobriety, but boy, that is not a solution. You`re shaking your head, Shelly.
SPRAGUE: Because when push comes to shove, you have to get the shot. And if you`re going to depend on a shot to keep you sober, you`re going to fail.
PINSKY: Janice, you had something to say?
DICKINSON: I will say last week after -- I`m approaching eight months of sobriety, and I had an operation for a pain blocker for a steroid shot.
PINSKY: A disk problem.
DICKINSON: Yes, for my bulging disk. And, you know, the day after, I suffered panic attack from the anesthesia and from the pain meds. They put -- the blocker that they put in it, and it just -- it hit me out of the blue. You know, I was on my way to another job on television. It hit me out of the blue, and I felt it. And, unless --
PINSKY: That`s your disease.
DICKINSON: I called Shelly right away.
PINSKY: That`s your disease.
SPRAGUE: And what did I say?
PINSKY: What did you say?
SPRAGUE: What did I say?
DICKINSON: You said, breathe. You said breathe.
SPRAGUE: It`s OK. We`re going to get through this.
DICKINSON: Breathe, breathe, breathe.
SPRAGUE: It`s OK. It`s your reaction.
DICKINSON: It was frightening.
PINSKY: I have to go out. It is. It`s your disease coming back. Shelly has a great story where she woke up after a surgery in full-blown disease, but -- and you had been sober for a while --
SPRAGUE: Four years.
PINSKY: Four years sober, and this is Shelly we`re talking about. She wakes up on an opium infusion, and her disease is fully awakened. Crazy. It`s a very powerful thing. I`m going to be taking more questions and calls later.
When we come back, you might think differently about your own life and what`s really important after you meet "Lizzie Beautiful." She`s here next.
PINSKY: My next guest has been called - she`s been called this by internet bullies, I want to point out. Internet is just a wonderful place, by the way. She`s been called the world`s ugliest woman, but she is anything but. I want you to watch something. Now, I want you to be aware of your immediate reaction to her physical appearance before you meet her because that is sure to change once you do. Take a look at the remarkable Lizzie Velasquez.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (voice-over): Lizzie Velasquez was born into this world against all odds. Premature with a rare medical condition, and just over 2 1/2 pounds, she beat the odds just by surviving. Doctors said she would never walk or talk, but she beat the odds again. Now, 22 Lizzie is one of only three people in the world with an undiagnosed syndrome that prevents weight gain. She`s never been more than 65 pounds, but the crushing burden of prejudice weighs on her constantly, rude stares, cruel taunting, and malicious internet attacks.
LIZZIE VELASQUEZ, RARE DISEASE PREVENTS HER FROM GAINING WEIGHT: We`ve all had our bad days, right?
PINSKY: But this inspiring young woman continues to shine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (on-camera): Meet Lizzie Velasquez and her mom, Rita. Lizzie is the author of "Lizzie Beautiful." Welcome, Lizzie and Rita. Now, first think I want to focus on you for a minute, Lizzie.
LIZZIE VELASQUEZ: OK.
PINSKY: These internet bullies, what was it like to have them call you names like that?
LIZZIE VELASQUEZ: Well, obviously, it`s like, nobody wants to have to deal with that. And stumbling upon this video for the first time graciously titled "the world`s ugliest woman," you can imagine how you would feel if you were labeled that title.
LIZZIE VELASQUEZ: Yes, but when I first saw it, I was immediately upset, of course.
LIZZIE VELASQUEZ: But once I scrolled down and I saw that there were over one, 5 million views to this video. Two, I would say a good over 3,000 comments to the video. And I don`t know why I did this, but I read every single comment.
PINSKY: Was it painful?
LIZZIE VELASQUEZ: It -- I would say painful wouldn`t even describe it.
LIZZIE VELASQUEZ: It felt like somebody was putting their hand through the computer and physically punching me.
PINSKY: How do you deal with that kind of thing? What do you do? I mean, you seem like such a resilient person. I understand, you told me just during the break or during the piece was you`re in college, you`re going to study communications to be a motivational speaker.
LIZZIE VELASQUEZ: Right.
PINSKY: How do you go from -- I mean, that`s tremendous resiliency, right?
LIZZIE VELASQUEZ: Well, when I saw the video, it was before I decided I wanted to do all this stuff, because I saw the video, and I was ready to hit that keyboard and make them feel as low as they made me feel.
LIZZIE VELASQUEZ: But then I realized if I did that, it would just be a never ending battle. I`d be sinking down to their level, hiding behind the computer screen. What would sI be accomplishing? Nothing.
LIZZIE VELASQUEZ: So, I left it and I said fine, I`m going to prove to these people that they`re wrong. I didn`t know how I was going to do it, but I knew I was going to do it.
PINSKY: When was that?
LIZZIE VELASQUEZ: I would say I think it was when I was a junior in high school.
PINSKY: So, here, you know, here you are in high school. I mean, any junior in high school. Rita, who wants to go through that again? I mean, any one of us, that`s a painful experience. She has this crushing experience and out of it becomes inspirational. Mom, hats off. Did you know you had someone like this?
RITA VELASQUEZ, LIZZIE`S MOTHER: No. She just goes out and does what she has to do.
PINSKY: Has she always been this way?
RITA VELASQUEZ: Yes. Her dad and I always encouraged her to do whatever she wanted to do.
PINSKY: So, you`ve had a stable marriage. Do you have other children?
RITA VELASQUEZ: Yes.
PINSKY: How many other children?
RITA VELASQUEZ: Two.
PINSKY: And you`ve been married how long?
RITA VELASQUEZ: It`s going to be 25 years.
PINSKY: You still in to each other?
RITA VELASQUEZ: Yes.
LIZZIE VELASQUEZ: They are.
PINSKY: They are in to each other? That`s a code in my world for saying that this is still a working relationship. You know what I mean when I say that.
RITA VELASQUEZ: Yes.
PINSKY: And did you feel that loving between them? Does that help you?
LIZZIE VELASQUEZ: Oh, yes, especially when it`s like awkward and uncomfortable.
PINSKY: They make out in front of you? Is that what you`re saying?
LIZZIE VELASQUEZ: That`s weird. They`re just like lovey dovey.
PINSKY: OK. Well, but there is something, right? You gave her an environment within which to flourish, right?
RITA VELASQUEZ: Right.
PINSKY: And you knew she had a liability. She had a disability her whole life. Were you focused on that?
RITA VELASQUEZ: No. You know, going with her whenever we went out, it was just our -- she was our first child. So, we just took her out as a normal, you know, first time parents would take their children out. And of course, we got the looks and the stares and people saying what`s wrong with her?
PINSKY: Lizzie, did you realize you looked different?
LIZZIE VELASQUEZ: No.
PINSKY: Or there was any time -- when did you realize that?
LIZZIE VELASQUEZ: My first day of kindergarten.
LIZZIE VELASQUEZ: Yes, I honestly had no idea, no clue whatsoever that I was different because my parents didn`t treat me differently.
LIZZIE VELASQUEZ: The people around me didn`t treat me differently. My parents never said, you`re different, at all.
PINSKY: This is such an important story. I got to tell you. You know, this is the kind of thing we want to do in this program is not just talk about extraordinary circumstances and things that are inspirational but translate that into something that people can use at home. And I don`t think we have conversations about this enough in our society.
You know what I`m talking about? Is there anything else you would want to say to people at home as a parent, as a mom of a child with disability, that they could take away from this program?
RITA VELASQUEZ: Just the encouragement and the understanding and the listening, especially when they`re having hard times.
PINSKY: I want to address the hard times. Did you ever say to yourself, why me?
LIZZIE VELASQUEZ: I did. When I was younger.
PINSKY: How old? When did that start?
LIZZIE VELASQUEZ: Elementary school.
PINSKY: So, it started that?
LIZZIE VELASQUEZ: Yes.
PINSKY: Did you get depressed?
LIZZIE VELASQUEZ: I wouldn`t say depressed because my parents never saw me cry ever. They never saw me upset. I didn`t want them to see me upset.
LIZZIE VELASQUEZ: Because they were never upset in front of me. They never made me feel like they had to pity me because I had this syndrome.
PINSKY: So, I want to take this now back to that internet experience. Here we are. You`re 17 years old or 16 years old. Already boys, whatever, you know, having the usual stuff that everyone goes through. And you get this crushing experience with the horrible things people writing on the internet.
LIZZIE VELASQUEZ: Right.
PINSKY: Did you -- is it that lack of desire -- that strength in not wanting to be pitied that pulled you through then, too?
LIZZIE VELASQUEZ: I think it was more of, like, anger.
LIZZIE VELASQUEZ: Anger, and it`s kind of like that video, like, lit a match under me for me to be like, you know what, I`m showing these people wrong. Like, I want them to continue to watch me. Let them keep posting all these horrible things because the more they do it, the more I`m going to accomplish.
PINSKY: You`re 22 now.
LIZZIE VELASQUEZ: Yes.
PINSKY: Do you date?
LIZZIE VELASQUEZ: No.
PINSKY: No dating?
LIZZIE VELASQUEZ: I mean, I want to. I`m not saying I don`t, but it just hasn`t happened yet.
PINSKY: It hasn`t happened yet.
LIZZIE VELASQUEZ: Yes.
PINSKY: Has there been any sort of males in your life?
LIZZIE VELASQUEZ: Yes. I mean, OK. I may have this syndrome, but I think I`m pretty cute no matter what, and I`m pretty funny and I have a good personality. So --
PINSKY: You don`t have to sell us on that, my dear. That`s pretty obvious.
LIZZIE VELASQUEZ: I`m a catch. I`m not saying that I`m like shy or anything. But yes, I do have guys in my life and stuff.
PINSKY: Good. Excellent. Other than this internet experience with bullies, have you had to fight bullies in your real life?
LIZZIE VELASQUEZ: Like tell them if they come up to me?
PINSKY: Yes. Just, you know, bullying. It seems like these days I hear about that all the time.
LIZZIE VELASQUEZ: I have to go through more just people staring at me constantly. That`s not people, like, coming up to me and saying you`re so ugly or, like, you`re so skinny or anything like that. I don`t have to deal with that in person.
PINSKY: Does that cause you pain?
LIZZIE VELASQUEZ: No.
PINSKY: Do you have any physical pain?
LIZZIE VELASQUEZ: No. None at all.
PINSKY: And you`re not depressed.
LIZZIE VELASQUEZ: No.
PINSKY: And you`re going to be a motivational speaker?
LIZZIE VELASQUEZ: I am going to be a motivational speaker.
PINSKY: And so, you want to be an inspiration to other people.
LIZZIE VELASQUEZ: Right.
PINSKY: That`s your life mission.
LIZZIE VELASQUEZ: Right.
PINSKY: Well, apparently, you, just your story, has had an effect on one girl, and we have a surprise for you. Sixteen-year-old Jackie Vallahos (ph), she joins us from Boston. She is a survivor of anorexia, and she was touched by Lizzie`s story. Now, they`ve never talked to each other until now. Jackie, here you are with your inspiration, Lizzie. How did she affect you?
JACKIE VALLAHOS (PH), SURVIVOR OF ANOREXIA: Lizzie, you have affected me in so many positive ways just your ability to accept yourself the way you are and the positivity that radiates from you has helped me be more positive in my body image and ,y recovery from anorexia. And you`ve just inspired me.
PINSKY: Lizzie, do you have anything to say to Jackie?
LIZZIE VELASQUEZ: Jackie, first of all, it`s so nice to meet you this way. I remember getting your e-mail, and it did really, really touch me. First of all, you are very, very beautiful. And I want you to please always remember, whenever anybody tells you anything negative or tries to bring you down or upset you, automatically tell yourself, I am pretty, I am smart, I am beautiful, because these positive thoughts will keep you with a smile on your face every day.
PINSKY: Will you guys please take this away from Lizzie`s story? We do affect one another. We affect each other when we bully and we affect each other when we inspire.
Changing directions again. Here`s an eye opening research bit for you. Kids who use alcohol, listen to this, in any context before the age of 15 are five times more likely to become alcohol dependent than people began at the age 21. And strange enough, we find this in other mammals like rodents have equivalent age 15. We exposed them to alcohol, they have drinking problems later. Interesting.
Charles, I will be responding to your Facebook post about alcohol cravings on our on-call segment. That is next. My answer to your questions and nothing is off limits.
JOY BEHAR, HOST: Hi, Drew. You know, you need to tune in for this because I have Caroline Kennedy tonight on the show. We`re going to talk about everything. You don`t want to miss it. Trust me.
PINSKY: All right. Now, I know a lot of you have questions out there. So, I want to get to answers. I want to do this every night. I know, of course, you guys have access to doctors every day because our health care system functions so, so very well. A topic for future discussion. Right now, I want to get to my Facebook.
As you see, behind me here, I have a new toy. There it is. Facebook goes right on the screen behind me, and I can manipulate it here with my iPad. It`s awesome. Here is Jason on Facebook. He writes me, "My ex-wife is a former cocaine addict. She has been cleaned for many years. However, I learned that a person that`s supposed to be abstaining from both drugs and alcohol. She drinks because she says that`s not her addiction. Can you explain why that`s not OK?
Listen, that is not OK. The fact is that is going to trigger her addiction. The simplest way I can explain it to you is that addiction is a particular pathway in the brain, and all drugs of addiction activate that same pathway, some more powerfully than others. It`s part of the brain called the medial forebrain bundle, ultimate area called the nucleus accumbens.
Fancy words for saying this is our motivational system, and if you tickle the motivational system, once you throw the switch on addiction, you`re on your way back to your drug of choice or to escalating alcohol use. It`s just a matter of time.
Here`s another Facebook question. This is from Charles. He is asking, "I used to drink pretty badly, but I have been cleaned for three years and I want to know, do the cravings ever go totally away? Well, the cravings should go away. It`s interesting the more disturbing part about addiction is not the craving. It`s how it affects your motivational thinking, but some people do have persistent cravings.
And a good friend of mine who`s been sober for many year said to me, you know, I`ve still never found anything I loves as much as drugs and alcohol. So, that romance, that love for it does not go ever away for some people.
Now, I`ve got a phone call. This is from Frank. He is in Pasadena. Frank, what`s going on, buddy.
FRANK, PASADENA: How you doing, Dr. Drew?
PINSKY: I`m good. Thank you.
FRANK: I have a question about your segment from last night. What women really want?
PINSKY: All right.
FRANK: My situation is I`ve been with a woman for five years, and, you know, it`s very depressing, stressful, and very emotional. And so, when you`re so in love with that person, when you`re so in love with that person, it`s very hard to deal with and move on.
PINSKY: Hold a second. How old are you?
FRANK: I`m 24 years old.
PINSKY: And you`ve been with her since you were 19?
FRANK: No, since 5 years old, and I met her at age 19.
PINSKY: OK. And how old is she?
FRANK: I`ve been with her for five years. She`s 29 years old right now. Just turned 29. And I (INAUDIBLE), you know?
PINSKY: And she`s wanting to leave and you`re shattered by her leaving. Is that right?
FRANK: Exactly. And it`s hard for me to move on, you know?
PINSKY: Yes. I know, Frank.
FRANK: So, I just want some advice in a relationship if this ever happens again.
PINSKY: You know, there`s an addictive quality to what you`re describing in your relationship that it`s so clingy that you`re shattered by it separating. You probably had some abandonments in your childhood, I suspect. That`s what makes the coming and going and forming and breaking of relationship so very painful for you.
There`s a woman that writes great books about this. Her name is Pia Melody. You can look into some of her books out there that address this issue. I strongly encourage you to look into it. But the fact is, what women are into in this particular case, she`s not into Frank. And you have to accept that. And if your grief goes on for more than six months, then that`s depression, and you really do need to think about getting some professional help, at that point.
So, Frank, please get support. Take a look at things. There`s something maybe more going on here than just the usual breakup kinds of grief that goes on with a relationship in your age group.
I want to thank everyone here for watching. This has been a very, very interesting program. I want to thank my guests. I want to thank those of you who`ve called and sent the messages in via Twitter and Facebook, and please continue to do so. And I`ll be here to see you again next time.