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Interview with Oscar de la Hoya

Aired February 21, 2012 - 21:00   ET


DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST: Here we go.

Oscar De La Hoya, neither scarred nor injured after years in the ring, but his bout with alcoholism nearly had him down for the count. The boxing legend talks to me here about addiction, recovery, and the death of Whitney Houston.

And music collaborations, a Twitter love fest. Are Chris Brown and Rihanna getting back together, and what messages are they sending to their young fans?

Let`s get started.

Thanks for joining us.

Now when Whitney Houston died, the country took notice. Drugs destroyed and pharmaceutical drugs destroyed her voice and career, probably illicit drugs, too, were in the story. Her death generated a national dialogue about addiction.

Now, tonight, one of the greatest fighters in the world talks about his own struggle to win his toughest battle, the battle of addiction. Take a look.


PINSKY (voice-over): Oscar De La Hoya won 10 world titles, an Olympic gold medal and made many millions.

OSCAR DE LA HOYA, WORLD BOXING CHAMPION AND A RECOVERING ADDICT: Hey, I`m still in awe of how I`ve been able to accomplish it, I`ve no idea.

PINSKY: He generated more money than any other boxer in the history of the sport. Supported charities. He`s nominated for a Grammy and was a source of pride for his community and his country.

Along the way he fooled us and himself. The greatest fighter in the planet, boxing`s Golden Boy is an alcoholic, a blackout drinker for three decades.

DE LA HOYA: I had a very tough upbringing.

PINSKY: He couldn`t admit it publicly until last year when he entered treatment. He says he hasn`t been sober since he was eight. He called addiction a monster, a looming and large presence that threatened all that matters, including his wife Milly and their two small children.

De La Hoya marvels at the fact that alcohol did not kill him. His drink of choice these days - iced tea.

DE LA HOYA: Fame can be a trap. It can ruin your life and it almost ruined mine.


PINSKY: Please welcome the Golden Boy himself, World Champion, Oscar De La Hoya.

With us also this evening, his friend and my friend and my former patient, model and actress, Jennifer Gimenez, who`s also a recovering person, a spokesperson for the Clean Center.

All right. So, Oscar, we`re going to start this conversation, talk a little about Whitney, and then we`re going to go wherever we go.

Did you have anything go through your mind when you heard that Whitney Houston had died?

DE LA HOYA: What went through my mind was just feeling so bad for her, feeling bad for her kid, you know?

It`s like now that I`m a recovering alcoholic, I can - I can see it coming, you know. You hear about these stories, especially with celebrities, because, I mean, yes, it`s public, and you can see it coming. And you`re praying that somebody please help them, you know? Somebody around them please help them. And, you know, I woke up -

PINSKY: You were saying something very powerful. Because I - Jennifer sees it coming, I see it coming. Yes. We see - we can see some other ones, you know, you see them circling the drain.

Did somebody speak up to you or was it just your own hitting bottom? Or did people speak up and you didn`t listen?

DE LA HOYA: You know, I actually had a high bottom, and what I mean is that I started drinking when I was eight actually, and it`s been a blackout ever since then.



GIMENEZ: I`m so sorry, it breaks my heart.

PINSKY: Well, we hear it a lot. We hear it - most 8-year-olds start - 8- to 11-year-olds start with pot. That`s the usual drug. It`s - somehow alcohol - how did you get alcohol at 8 years of age?

DE LA HOYA: Well, family -

PINSKY: Because it`s there.

DE LA HOYA: -- family functions, it was there. I guess part of our culture. It`s like you go to the family functions during the weekend, the men go to the back, the women are in the kitchen, and they told little Oscar, "Why wouldn`t you get us some beer?" And, you know, every time I got a beer, I would have a sip.

So after 30 or 40 runs of those 40 sips, then I`m just out of it, and so that was my first experience when I fell in love with alcohol. And ever since then, it`s like I`ve now realized that I`ve been trapped. I`ve been trapped for all those years, and I`m finally just coming out of that shell.

And I can take myself back now and look at everything, and - and it`s like wow. I mean, how did this happen to me? Why did it happen to me? And I understand it. It was lack of education. Lack of being educated on what alcoholism is.

PINSKY: Well, let`s help people understand it. Because this is our chance to do that, right, to educate, and what`s interesting is there`s Oscar, and then there`s Oscar the alcoholic, and they`re very different, right?

DE LA HOYA: Right.

PINSKY: They`re the same person, but they function very differently.

DE LA HOYA: Right.

PINSKY: And when you`re in the alcoholism, a lot of other stuff gets going, relationships, sex, other substances, sometimes sort of illicit behaviors strike (ph), you`re just hiding and shaming and stuff.

DE LA HOYA: Of course.

PINSKY: Well you say of course, but I don`t think people understand that. We say of course.


PINSKY: But can you help people understand who are dealing with the alcoholic, yes, let`s say we`re dealing with an alcoholic Oscar who are angry with them and blaming them, do you understand?

I don`t see - I see a different - I see a certain person whose brain isn`t working right when I see that.

DE LA HOYA: Right.

PINSKY: How do you help people understand that?

DE LA HOYA: Well, it`s like for instance let`s take my marriage. I`ve been married for 10 years. But I`ve only been in the relationship for 289 days, which is my sobriety date, you know, because I`ve been there, I`ve been present, not just physically, because I was always there physically, especially now for my two little kids, but I was never there emotionally. And so we`re never there.

We`re always thinking of something else. We`re always thinking of that next drink, or we`re always out of it thinking about something else, something to do. And you know, it affects everyone around us. It affects us.

GIMENEZ: Yes. You know, absolutely.

DE LA HOYA: It`s not a good life to live.

PINSKY: And - go ahead, Jennifer.

GIMENEZ: Sorry. I`m sorry. I remember a lot in the beginning of my sobriety when I was being treated by you, you used to tell me that I was suffering from sex and love addiction as well. And I was like I`m not a sex addict, you know? I would get so mad about it.

And I normally don`t talk about this, but I remember like not being able to be present with people who loved me, let alone intimate relationships like another - my partner, but even with family members. Like, I always was like suffering from that. Like, did you find that?

DE LA HOYA: You know, I`ve never had a relationship with anybody, including myself. And I`m finding now that all the family members, and I have a big family, that I stopped talking to many years ago, my kids that I stopped talking to many years ago because I was just self centered. I was just so into myself. It was all about me, me, me and me.

Now it`s like I mean, now it`s being a recovering alcoholic, it`s like now I`m realizing just how to live. I`m a baby and I`m learning how to live the right way.

I was telling you that in the dressing room that it`s like I ran a 30- mile marathon the wrong direction, you know? But now I got to come back from the start and run that marathon, you know, in the right direction. So it`s a good way to live, let me tell you.

PINSKY: Well, Oscar, you`re raising a lot of profound issues in here. One is you said that you - you fell in love with alcohol in the beginning. And that`s the thing that the codependents, people around the addict/alcoholic have trouble accepting, that you love it. You love it as much or better than anything else in your life.

Because a non-alcoholic addict doesn`t have that experience. They can`t imagine that.

DE LA HOYA: Right.

PINSKY: There`s that on one hand.

The other issue is this first year people want to be healed in the month of treatment from alcoholism recovery. Can you talk about how fragile that first one or even that first three years is, and how it feels to be a newbie, a newborn baby into the world?

DE LA HOYA: Right. Well, listen, like I mean I`ve been in there with the best fighters on the planet. I`ve been able to capture a gold medal and world title and this and that, but this is the toughest fight of my life, you know?

It`s like I`ve - I`ve - in the first three months, I was going crazy with myself, wanting to drink, just wanting to drink. And what saved me was obviously the support of my family and obviously the support of my fellowship and the meetings. It`s not easy. And nothing`s easy that is - if that reward is really, really good for you, it`s not going to be easy. You have to work at it, you know? It`s a job. I mean, if you want to keep your job, you have to work.

PINSKY: Well, this is, again, Jennifer, you`ll appreciate this, I`ve got only a few seconds here. But that because it`s your job, it`s your full time preoccupation and occupation particularly the first 6 to 12 months.

DE LA HOYA: Right.

PINSKY: Which is why if you go work, you do other things, which I always tell celebrities, you want to go on the road, it takes you away from your job. You can do it. You can probably even be white-knuckled and stay sober. But you aren`t progressing, you`re not developing. Because it`s a fragile. It is such a delicate process.

GIMENEZ: And it`s interesting, I`m sorry, it`s interesting because I was telling Dr. Drew last week like when you and I started like texting and tweeting stuff about things to say, there`s a difference.

You can see the people who are going to make it in the beginning of recovery. Is when you dove - you dive in and you`re like fighting for your life like you`re saying, you`re amongst that fellowship. You`re amongst that you don`t worry about the outside stuff, you worry about the inside stuff and that`s what you`re doing. And I`m like so blown away.

And I was telling you that, Dr. Drew in the dressing room last week.

DE LA HOYA: I can - I can notice myself changing if I don`t go to a meeting for three, four days, I can notice myself changing.

PINSKY: Your thinking.

DE LA HOYA: And my thinking and preoccupied and OK. Maybe if I sneak away somewhere, maybe like go anywhere - see, because I can drink whenever I want.


DE LA HOYA: When I don`t go to meetings, then I`ll pick up and take that drink. But if I keep going to meetings and just keep being of service, you know, to somebody else, then I will stay sober.

PINSKY: Yes. I`m so happy for you. You`re singing the tune that I know is a miracle.

DE LA HOYA: It is.

PINSKY: It`s a miracle and people end up glorious with that, but they can go pretty far down.

OK. When we come back, more with Oscar and Jennifer, and talk a little bit about that high bottom.

And later, are Rihanna and Chris Brown back together again? Now, given their history, I am - I`m concerned about that. It`s a kind of a complicated issue. So we`ll talk about that. Stay with us.



GIMENEZ: I`m looking at you and you`re high.


GIMENEZ: Not only did he physically abuse me, but he emotionally and verbally abused me. I think Steven Adler when he`s on drugs is a monster.


PINSKY: That is outtakes from VH-1 "Celebrity Rehab" and "Sober House."

And as we`re finding tonight, even a boxing champion cannot will his way through addiction. It`s something he must work at every day. It`s a problem faced by many tens of millions of you.

Oscar De La Hoya is very open and honest today. He`s sharing his story. And I hope it will change any of you out there who are sitting on the fence or thinking you might have an issue.

Jennifer Gimenez is also with us. She`s a recovering person.

Oscar, you tweeted a couple weeks ago. Here it is, "I`m loving my new life but I was miserable as hell." That was your tweet. What was the bottom like again? You said it was a high bottom. What happened?

DE LA HOYA: Well, it was a high bottom, because I was always a functioning alcoholic. I always knew how to cover my tracks, you know.

PINSKY: But again, some of that was your thinking that look, I`m a fighter, how bad could I be?

DE LA HOYA: Right.

PINSKY: Right. And I`m OK.

DE LA HOYA: And all these years I was - I was always lying to everybody, including myself because I was the type of person, type of fighter who, OK, would win fights, put on this smile, you know, the Golden Boy, but inside I was just miserable. I was miserable with myself, because the shame that I had inside of me of doing the things that I was doing and capable of doing, it was just, I mean, it was - it was literally a living hell.

PINSKY: Now, I don`t - I don`t want you to talk about anything uncomfortable or hurtful, but is there stuff that - you know, it`s a rigorous problem of open, honest recovery, and I`m sure you`ve shared it with the right people.

Is there stuff that you can tell about your story that would, I don`t know, help people understand where it goes? You know what I mean?

DE LA HOYA: Well, where it goes, I mean, as you know, as they say, jails, institutions and death. And I was - I was headed towards death. I`m convinced I was headed towards death because I don`t know how many times I was pulled over under the influence. I don`t know how many times -

PINSKY: And let go?

DE LA HOYA: And let go, because -

PINSKY: You`re Oscar.

DE LA HOYA: Of course. And so, obviously, I didn`t have consequences. And that allowed me to drink even more. And I was finding myself that I was drinking while I was celebrating something, and I was drinking while I was being - maybe we were sad about something that maybe somebody in the family passed away or something. I always wanted to find an excuse to drink. And -

PINSKY: You can always find them.


GIMENEZ: I woke up. I got to drink, you know?

DE LA HOYA: Absolutely.

PINSKY: But you mention how the world colluded with you. Is that something that celebrities have to watch out for? Were they sick offense around you that should have you wished stepped up and cared more about you the person?

DE LA HOYA: Oh, absolutely. I mean, it`s - with me it`s like - I know that people look at me under a microscope, and that`s why I`m being so open about this because I don`t mind this. I`m an open book. I want people to know that I`m a grateful, recovering alcoholic, you know? Because, yes, it can help people, but it`s helping me get by one more day.

PINSKY: And being service to other people.

DE LA HOYA: Absolutely.

PINSKY: And this is the part, the other magical piece of recovery that people don`t get, do they, Jennifer?

GIMENEZ: No, not at all. And I think it`s so key that you`re saying that. Like I broke my anonymity and I didn`t realize - I thought it was like to help people. My sponsor was like, no, you did it because you`re that sick and it keeps me so accountable.

It does. Because if I go into, you know, a bar, if I go into a restaurant or if I go into a plane and someone is like would you want alcohol, you see people looking at you. And it keeps you still under the microscope, but yet it keeps me going.

You know what, I have a purpose today and being of service. Like there`s nothing - there`s not a greater feeling for me than going and helping another woman or helping somebody else. Or like somebody is listening and then tweeting me or e-mailing me, going that was me or thank you, I understand, or that really inspired me.

PINSKY: But you`ve been sober for a long time. I mean, for Oscar, just talking about his story I think is where he needs to be. Yes, it`s very powerful.

GIMENEZ: Amazing.

PINSKY: I think you`re going, like, to another 12-step call, again, I`m hoping I`m not using language that`s upsetting to the community there, but I think that would be threatening to you at this stage. You`re a newbie. You`re fragile. You`ve got to really take it hour by hour.

DE LA HOYA: Exactly. It`s literally hour by hour. You know, just the other night, last night actually, I was watching Dr. Bill (ph) story with my wife. And I was telling my wife, you know, this is my calling.

I mean, this is - this is I actually want to be known for, a person who grew up in a very humble beginnings, OK, and kind of captured that American dream and had it all, and was on the verge of losing it all. And now I have even more because I have, first of all, I have my health, I have my sobriety, I have my family, I have my kids. I can now live. I have my life.

And that`s the American dream. And to just send that message out and if I can help just one person, great. But like I said, look, I`m being selfish. In my sobriety I`m being selfish because I`m helping myself.

PINSKY: It works both ways. Is the early onset of your drinking, was it a painful childhood? Was that covering pain?

DE LA HOYA: Oh, absolutely. It was a very painful childhood. I mean, look, I was - I come from a very - yes, I come from a loving dad. I`m sure my mom loved me, my father loved me. But we didn`t - we didn`t have it where, OK, they knew how to express it to us. We just didn`t - we didn`t have nobody to tell us, OK, you know, the birds and bees story. You know, we didn`t have that. We had to learn how to live on our own, so to speak.

PINSKY: In the streets?

DE LA HOYA: In the streets. It was painful. It was just very painful. And we grow up obviously, you know, you take that wrong turn in life in, you know, at a certain point.

PINSKY: It keeps evolving and you fall in love with the drugs and alcohol.

DE LA HOYA: Exactly.

PINSKY: Just game on. Jen, you`ve got something?

GIMENEZ: One thing that I see, though, that you - that you and I have talked about is that, you know, one of the key I think things for him, and I think for a lot of people is becoming accountable to somebody else, and also he doesn`t travel alone, he always has a sober member with him. He always has people, like he`s really dialed in and around people that like call him out on stuff and want nothing from him. You know, and -

PINSKY: That`s got to be weird from you. Just people that want to help you in your sobriety and not -

DE LA HOYA: Well, it`s funny because it`s like I - I only have one friend, one childhood friend since I was like four or five years old that stuck with me through thick and thin, and it`s like I`ve always noticed myself pushing him away, and not letting him know that I did drugs or that I did drink.

And every time I remember now, every time we would go to a club or a bar or something, I would get so mad at him because I would tell him why are you not drinking, what`s wrong with you, you know? While I`m drunk here, falling everywhere.

PINSKY: Well, you remember all the shame was there, too. You wanted him to be in the disease with you, yes.

DE LA HOYA: Oh, absolutely. And what I would do is pushing him away, push him away and find somebody that would be with me in that - in that circle and drink with me and have fun, you know

PINSKY: And cosign your B.S. as we say.

We`ve got - we`ve got to take a break here. We`ve got more with Jennifer and Oscar in just a minute.

And also, that Chris Brown and Rihanna story, we may talk a little bit about that. Stay with us.


PINSKY: Welcome back.

I`m again here with Oscar De La Hoya and Jennifer Gimenez.

Oscar, you`ve mentioned something going out to break, I`ve been trying to get people to understand Whitney Houston standing there with a glass of champagne was an emergency. I`ve been criticized for that. Whoopi Goldberg just slammed me for saying that. People don`t get that.

How do we get that message across? What did you see when you see her there with the glass of champagne?

DE LA HOYA: Well, I mean, it`s like literally holding one bullet in that - in that holster, you know, and holding a gun. I mean, it`s literally like that.

You know, it`s like once you`re an alcoholic, you`re always going to be an alcoholic. And if you only had one drink, well, it always leads to something else. It always leads to another drink, you know, and people don`t understand that.

I think people have to just be educated about it, you know? And people that don`t drink, you know, that don`t have a problem -

PINSKY: They don`t get it.

DE LA HOYA: -- they just do not get it.

PINSKY: Jennifer?

GIMENEZ: That again, it`s like we`re bringing so much awareness out that, you know, you - you do need to learn this, because everyone is affected by alcohol and drug addiction. It`s like, you know, that half pill could kill you.

That - my dad, he died at 48, he wasn`t active in his addiction but he was an addict. And -

PINSKY: Yes. And you guys - and we`ve been talking a lot about pharmaceuticals and drugs, but we mustn`t forget, alcohol in terms of the biggest impact on people`s health and this society, alcohol is the one and we sort of - we sort of pushed that one aside. Because we all - we like alcohol too much.

DE LA HOYA: Of course. And, look, and there`s - and I`m not saying, OK, people stop drinking, no. That`s - people can drink, but then there`s people that cannot drink like myself. You know, we just - and there`s millions and millions of people that cannot drink.

PINSKY: And you can`t drink, you can`t smoke pot, you can`t take pills. You can`t get - and, again -

DE LA HOYA: It all goes hand in hand.

GIMENEZ: You have to feel - you like have to feel your feelings. Like -

PINSKY: Well, that`s the stage he`s in right now.

But how do we get people to understand that if you - if you`ve been addicted with alcohol, all the others would trigger the same mechanism. Is there a message you can give people? I seem to be unable to reach them clearly about this.

DE LA HOYA: : I really do think, I mean, it`s going to have to start with school, with the kids, educating them, let`s say in high school when - so they can make the transition into college.

Because, look, kids are dying, kids are drinking and dying and taking pills and this and that, going to college at a young age. Why not just educate them? Why not just, you know, make it part of life, you know? So at least they have a chance to live.

PINSKY: I think you also need somebody who has been there, too, because if you give somebody like me in the white coat out there, it`s like, ah, whatever.

But, Jennifer, last word.

GIMENEZ: That`s true. One of the things, too, is like if you have the gene, if you suffer from addiction, if you take that pill or drink or drug, you awaken that beast that`s just waiting there to size you up, to get you in some way.

PINSKY: Before we go out, Oscar, any - any thoughts? I`m going to get into the Chris Brown-Rihanna story the next - the next break - after the next break. Do you have any thoughts about that - those two? No?

DE LA HOYA: I just feel, look, I mean, it`s - I guess maybe a time bomb waiting to - to go off, you know?

PINSKY: Yes. That`s what we`re worried about. That`s what we`re concerned about.

DE LA HOYA: It`s - I mean, look, yes, they can be together or whatever, but they have to or he has to, or she has to, or they both have to just get help, because maybe they`re not even made for each other.

PINSKY: Exactly.

Oscar, thank you so much. I think - I think you will help more than one person today. Jennifer, as always, thank you for joining us.

GIMENEZ: Thank you for having me.

PINSKY: Coming up, I`m going to take your questions and calls. Remember, no topic is taboo.

And later on, as I just brought up with Oscar, we`re going to talk about domestic violence. Rihanna was a victim. But there were reports that apparently she`s getting back with Chris Brown. Perez Hilton did a report on this.

Weigh in on this topic and others at Let me know what you`re thinking. And also tell me what questions you would like to ask during one of these blocks like we`re going to have in the next segment. I`ll talk about any topic you guys want to get into. We`ll be right back after this.



PINSKY (voice-over): Coming up, Rihanna and Chris Brown are making music together. He attacked her two years ago and pleaded guilty to a felony. Are they a couple again? Was he treated for domestic abuse? Should couples who had trouble with violence reconcile? What are the dangers and how does this relate to you?


PINSKY (on-camera): Welcome back. We are taking your calls and comments tonight, and I`m encouraging you to call in and write in about any topics you`d like me to address.

Now, we got first, Lauren from New Jersey who writes, "I`ve suffered from pill addiction for more than eight years. It all started when I broke my legs and had multiple knee surgeries. I was a certified firefighter, ENT, and 911 dispatcher. My use resulted in multiple arrest for obtaining CDs by fraud while I worked for a police department. Being on pills drastically changed who I was."

That is the story that I was just discussing with Oscar Dela Hoya. The fact that you -- what is her name, Lauren? Lauren on pills, different person, Lauren addict is not Lauren. It`s somebody in a disease state. You`re brain isn`t working right. You`re thinking wrong. Your motivational priorities are off.

And once you get off everything, not on replacement therapies, not on benzodiazepines like poor Whitney was given, off everything, the human being that you are can emerge. And if you heard Oscar, it`s hard work, and it`s fragile and it`s difficult and it`s painful and it takes time and focus. And people just aren`t willing to do that. They want a quick fix.

The other thing about your story that absolutely breaks my heart is that no one realized this was happening to you. You were given things appropriately after surgery. I`m not saying people should suffer after surgery, but you take these pain meds because they work and they`re good. And then, something happens and no one identified that and no one got you the help you needed.

I`m sorry about that, Lauren. I hope you`re sober now. I think that`s what you`re telling me. You`re looking back at your story. And, God bless you if that`s the case.

Talk about Chris Brown and Rihanna news tonight. Here`s Laura who writes "The two have a dysfunctional attraction. They`re probably unable to stay away from each other without help, but it`s never a woman`s fault when someone hits them. I feel like things between them will most likely escalate again. Neither of them are good role models."

Boy, Laura, there`s a lot packed into that statement. I`ll tell you what. You know, when people are in these domestic violence relationship, you`re right, they`re very addictive in the relationship. They`re very intense. People confuse intensity for love. And listen, people go oh, romance, it`s great. Look at Romeo and Juliette.

Yes, look at Rome and Juliette. If those two have been my patients, I`d be sued. They didn`t end up so well. That`s drama. That`s sick people behaving sick. That`s not how we should live our lives. So, the intensity is something that is problematic. If it leads to violence, it is very serious.

Now, I think Chris had some treatment. We`re going to talk about that in the next segment, whether Rihanna has had it. I mean, they really both need something if there`s going to be any possibility this will not escalate again. So, I kind of agree with you. I`m very concerned about it. I got Darlene on the phone. Darlene, go ahead.

DARLENE: Oh, hi, Dr. Drew.

PINSKY: Hi, Darlene.

DARLENE: Hey. Given that February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention month and that Rihanna and Chris Brown issues are making the news, what advice do you have for teens in regards to them being in relationships. What constitutes a healthy versus an unhealthy relationship in that age group?

PINSKY: You`re asking very difficult question, Darlene. Are you involved with teens? Do you work with them?

DARLENE: I tell you, my daughter actually has led peer groups on the topic, and the two things that always come out of it, one that they don`t know how to get out of the relationship, and the second thing is the parents are the last people they would go to, which really amazes me, because, you know, they`re taught about drugs and pregnancy prevention, but nothing is done on the topic of teen dating violence.

PINSKY: Well, let`s bring it up right now, thank you for doing so. That, yes, if teens are -- if young people are listening to this program or caught in a relationship, if there`s a sense of power and control, even if it`s emotionally abuse, it doesn`t have to be physically abusive, please tell your parents, please tell a teacher, please tell an adult who can support you and help guide you through this.

This is your first time as a teen in these kind of situations. And again, they confuse, Darlene, they confuse love for these intense experiences that are so dangerous and pathological. I bet, Darlene, you have great results or your daughter has great results talking teen to teen. That`s really the most effective way to deliver those kinds of messages. Is that what she`s finding?

DARLENE: Yes, and she`s also talked to PTA groups. It`s amazing that everything that`s done with anti-bullying, this is a topic that never gets discussed.

PINSKY: Well, I`m delighted you brought it up. If nothing else, Chris and Rihanna have done us that service of bringing it up. And, I`m going to keep this alive. Let`s see if we can keep this going. Do we have any other phone calls out there? Is anybody else on the phone? There it is. Melissa -- oh, I`m sorry. Judy from Idaho. Judy, go ahead.

JUDY, IDAHO: Hi, Dr. Drew.

PINSKY: Hi, Judy.

JUDY: In a nutshell, my son got addicted to hydrocodone after he was given a prescription when he was 16 --


JUDY: -- from a sports injury.

PINSKY: Oh, boy.

JUDY: What I didn`t know is that, evidently, it awakened the addiction gene in him.

PINSKY: Right.

JUDY: People were passing them out in high school --

PINSKY: Judy, let me stop you and just say that this is a common story I hear where a kid, even a younger adolescent, your son, gets an opiate or pain medication for an orthopedic injury, a football injury, and they`re on it for, you know, four weeks, maybe appropriately, and then, it stops.

And then, the kid starts getting into illicit drugs and nobody really recognizes that it was that original opiate that got the whole process going. Is that what happened here?

JUDY: Exactly that`s what happened.


JUDY: And I notice a downhill in his grades. Well, anyway, to make a long story short, we got him into a 28-day program which he did well on, but that was two-and-a-half years ago. And he`s relapsed. And our insurance will only cover a one time deal for 28 days. What do people do in that situation --

PINSKY: Here`s what you do. Here`s what you do, my dear. I`ve only got a few seconds to answer this. So, listen carefully. Find a sober living. You can usually find them for about $800 a month. Get him to narcotics anonymous meetings right away. Ask there for help and support from people if he needs professional help because they know where to go and where to go that`s affordable.

Next, R&B star, Chris Brown, as I said, and Rihanna have made international headlines after their relationship turned violent. Tonight, we learned they`re collaborating. Is it ever OK to reacquaint yourself with an abuser? We`re going to talk about that. Stay with us.


PINSKY: OK. Now, three years ago, singer, Chris Brown pleaded guilty to felony assault on fellow pop star and then girlfriend, Rihanna. Now, tonight, they`re making headlines again, having reunited on two new remixes. Question we`re asking here is, could you rebuild a relationship with an ex-lover or, for that matter, any kind of romantic relationship where your partner beat you? Take a look at this.


PINSKY (voice-over): He was an R&B star with a nice guy image, she was a dazzling young diva. No one expected their relationship to end in violence. Chris Brown apparently attacked then girlfriend, Rihanna, after a pre-Grammy party in 2009. We remember the picture. Rihanna`s face was battered and bruised.

Chris Brown`s image shattered by his own actions. Outrage ensued, especially when Brown was allowed to perform at the Grammys. Then last week, rumors about a possible musical collaboration. And then last night, twittering. First, Brown tweeted Rihanna happy birthday, then each posted song remixes featuring one another.


PINSKY: Are these sexualized lyrics glorifying what is clearly an abusive relationship? Is this the wrong message to their young fans? That`s why (ph) critics raising their voice it appears that this couple is on track to possibly get back together. The evidence is on Twitter.


PINSKY (on-camera): Now, on the days leading up to the release of yesterday`s collaborative remixes, Rihanna tweeted, quote, "They can say whatever, I`m going to do whatever, no pain is forever, yes, you know this." And then, Chris Brown tweeted in response, "Let them be mad. We make music, don`t like it, don`t listen."

Rihanna and Chris Brown have over 10 million combined Twitter followers. So, we`re just kind of trying to dig into this a little bit and ask, is this sending a message? Are these young Twitter followers going to get the wrong idea?

Joining me is Christina Dalpiaz. She`s a domestic violence survivor and author of "Breaking Free, Starting Over." Tulynn Smylie is executive director of WomenShelter of Long Beach, and Perez Hilton is joining me. He`s the founder of

Hey, Perez. Thanks for joining me. Now, I read what -- I was reading what you had tweeted. Let me share a little bit of this. "Genius, Rihanna and Chris Brown, just mind blanked the world." Perez, I`m not sure what you were getting that in your blog and twittering. Were you supportive of this or were you just -- what were you thinking?

PEREZ HILTON, FOUNDER, PEREZHILTON.COM: I was and am because I approached it from a positive place. However, I was genuinely surprised that in my perception, the overwhelming response to these collaborations was negative. And I understand why the people`s initial inclination to go to a negative place. However, I am choosing to view it as an opportunity to tell the story of growth, and healing, and progress, and forgiveness, and compassion.

You know, I, of course, judge what Chris Brown did in the past, but your past should not define you. That`s like you work with addicts, Dr. Drew. An addict could overcome his addiction, and he should be given a second chance.

PINSKY: OK. Perez, you`re bringing up a really interesting point. In fact, what makes this whole thing rather muddy tonight which is, what I always say and I really need this message, Perez going need (ph) to give out is that if you`re involved in a relationship with domestic violence and nothing`s changed, nobody gets treatment, nobody, you know, gets support or looks into this, it is going to get worse. It`s going to come back.

Now, as you say, Perez, in this particular situation, get me Perez up there, I want to talk directly to him. I feel like I`m speaking to him, there you are. Perez, in this situation, I looked into this, and Chris did do, apparently, a 52-week program.

HILTON: It was court mandated.

PINSKY: Well, but I looked into the program, and it`s an organization that does court mandated programs, and it`s a group process, and they`re required to, you know, really change and show willingness to change, and the judge even gave Chris a commendation for how well he completed the program.

Now, one of two things. Either he has changed, or Perez, you and I both know, people with power can monkey with the system a little bit. Let`s hope that`s not what happened here, but what I want to ask you is, do you know, Perez, has he been contrite? Is he talking about being better and changed?

HILTON: Well, the only two people that could answer that question are Chris Brown and Rihanna, because they`re the ones that were in it and aren`t in it right now. We don`t know if they`re officially back together as a couple. All we know is they`re collaborating on music together.

However, just because I am being supportive of this, of using something that was negative and turning it into a positive, focusing on the creative and the spreading of good music, that does not mean that I think that Chris Brown is a saint or an amazing person. In fact, just last week, I criticized Chris Brown on twitter for the immature way that I perceived he was responding to negativity.

You know, he won a Grammy award, which is a great honor, and you know what he did, Drew, after he won the Grammy award, he tweeted, "I won a Grammy, FU." I`m like, that`s not very mature.

PINSKY: Right.

HILTON: But there`s a difference between being an immature 21-year- old, he`s 21, and there`s also a difference between somebody who beats women. I don`t think he beats women any more. I think he learned that lesson well.

PINSKY: All right. Well, that`s the conversation I want to have here with experts in this area, and I also want to remind everyone what Rihanna looked like after the 2009 assault. Now, let`s throw that up there. So, my question here, Tulynn, to you is, you know, did you hear what I said about him having had treatment, probably a year, basically a year of treatment program.


PINSKY: Is that sufficient? Should we be holding our breath that this is going to go well? I mean, do you see people really change when they want to?

SMYLIE: Well, I don`t know in this particular case whether or not the treatment has worked. It is a court mandated treatment.

PINSKY: I`ve seen court mandated drug treatment work. You know, just because they don`t start willing, sometimes, you give them the treatment, they end up willing.

SMYLIE: You`re right. And it may have worked in this case with Chris Brown, but we don`t really know yet. I think it`s really too soon to determine that. And certainly, what`s coming out in the media and his tweets and his song lyrics, I`m not that sure he`s really contrite or that he is really sorry for his behavior to the point where we can know that he has changed.

PINSKY: So, for you, these aggressive, highly sexualized lyrics makes you wonder, right?

SMYLIE: A little bit.

PINSKY: Makes you wonder. Certainly, sort of objectifying women and --


PINSKY: OK. So, Christine, I have the same question out to you, which is, do you see couples getting better after the kind of domestic violence that we saw with this couple, and I guess, you were a survivor yourself, so you can sort of relate to what has gone on here, and if so, if you do encourage couples to get back together after a certain kind of treatment, what should we look for to let us know that, perhaps, things are going well?

CHRISTINA DALPIAZ, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SURVIVOR: I absolutely believe that people can change. I see it every day. I work with perpetrators and victims alike and their behavior changes. A lot of it`s learned as children, and what I`ll see people do when they come into treatment is they`ll start looking at replacement skills that they`re given and they change.

In this particular case, he`s still verbally violent, which is very concerning. I would like to give him the benefit of the doubt and say that he is getting better, but the verbal violence is just an indication that he hasn`t quite arrived yet.

And maybe, the social tolerance that he is getting is allowing him to keep going forward and not caring, because whenever people step up and say this is not OK, and they get that, then they stop doing it. I mean, people can change. And I don`t think anyone should have to have a --


PINSKY: No, I agree. Particularly, again, when they`ve had treatment, they participated in treatment. Now, Rihanna has got an interesting role in all of this, and I don`t want to suggest in any way that she is responsible, but she, too, used a lot of aggression in her lyrics and her music. Last summer, she released a music video entitled "Man Down," in which she shoots and kills her rapist in broad daylight. This (ph) made international headlines. Take a look at this.




PINSKY: Are we (ph) reading too much into this to, you know, say that Rihanna has got her own stuff that has to be worked out, that maybe is not going to be healthy for her to be back with a Chris Brown, let`s put it that way?

SMYLIE: I would absolutely agree with you on this. I don`t want to read into this situation, because I don`t know either. We don`t know them very well at all. All we know is what`s in the media.

PINSKY: Let`s be clear. The only thing we do know is that Chris Brown is reported to have completed and done excellently in a treatment program for domestic violence, and we all agree that those things work.

SMYLIE: Well, I don`t know, because --

PINSKY: Can work.

SMYLIE: They can work, but there are no completed studies or longitudinal studies that show that batterers intervention programs actually do work. And so, I think there is some question. I would agree with Christina that there are some people for whom these programs do work, and we don`t want to discount that, but I don`t know that the evidence is there yet in this particular case that it has worked with Chris Brown.

PINSKY: So, if these were your patients, you would be suggesting they don`t get back together? That can (ph) be a safer recommendation.

SMYLIE: Yes, exactly, and not for right now. I think that it would be much safer for Rihanna to move on with her life, get herself squared away, you know, in every other way, and then think about possibly --

PINSKY: Possibly Chris down the line. You guys stay with me.

Next, lifting a court ordered protective ban against your batter. Is that OK? We`re going to tackle that and other questions when we come back.


PINSKY: Following Chris Brown`s 2009 conviction for assault on his then girlfriend, Rihanna, he was sentenced to five years probation, and a protective order banning him from contacting her or being near her. Last year, Rihanna and her attorneys lifted that ban.

Christina, I want to ask you. Thoughts on dropping a court order protective ban against the batterer. Is that common practice? Is that a concern? And let`s also point out, before I let you answer that, that these relationships that are abusive, that are violent, are always very intense. There`s always love, sex, addiction, and all kinds of craziness involved.

That`s what sort of drags them back in. It`s very addictive quality to the relationships when people are battered. Is it recommended to let those five-year cooling off times be or is it OK to remove the protective order?

DALPIAZ: I think the circumstances behind this one was a little bit more severe. Whenever they start choking, that`s pretty deviant. So, I don`t think they should lift the restraining order until both people have sought treatment because without it, the batterer can come in with the love and the flowers or write a song like he did, in this case, and charm her right back into his arms, and then, if he hasn`t had the time to practice in their skills and have her practiced in their skills, they`re going to be right back where they started.

Here in Denver, we don`t allow the victim to drop the charges. It`s something that the court has to do over time.

PINSKY: And not only that -- right. That`s what our concern is here. It`s playing with fire, so to speak. And as Christina said, we have no evidence that Rihanna has done any work. So, we have only one of the two changing maybe, and what kind of message, either of you, Christina, you can ring in on this, too, are we giving to her young followers?

Young women that follow her, and what we`re saying, what aggression and objectification, violence, all cool, all good?

SMYLIE: And I think this is really the sad thing about this particular case is she doesn`t only have young women following her, she has young men following her. And the message that is getting across at this point is, if you have a certain amount of money or certain amount of fame or certain amount of followers, that abusing your girlfriend or being the abuse victim is Ok, and that, you know --

PINSKY: And then, by the way, responding in sort of violent kind. Christina, you have any comments on this as well?

DALPIAZ: I do. Violence is a very exciting -- very exciting, and it makes, you know, people think that it`s love sometimes, and they think jealousy is love, and the intensity of that combined with flowers and, maybe in this case, writing a song, makes them think that this is love.

And it`s very dangerous because they don`t recognize what they`re doing, and the young people want to believe that this is love love, and it`s not. It`s very dangerous.

PINSKY: Christina, you have really important point. I am so glad you brought that up is that young people confuse intensity for love, and intensity, especially when it breaks down into aggression and violence is not love. That is not love, that is pathology. That is dangerous. Got 20 seconds. Last words.

DALPIAZ: It lights up the same part of the brain -- It lights up the same part of the brain as anger does. Love and anger are in the same spot. So, it`s very confusing. And we need to send a strong message that this is not OK.

PINSKY: Well, not only that -- I got to go, ladies. Thank you, Tulynn. Thank you, Christina. But not only that, it lights up the same part of the brain that`s involved in addiction and in the kind of arousal that drives adolescent behavior, so they are biologically set up to respond to these things. And I say be careful with your kids. Talk to them about this. Thanks for watching. I`ll see you next time.