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Weight Loss Horror Story; Drunk Driving

Aired July 3, 2012 - 21:00   ET


DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST: Here we go.

Thousands of overweight Americans are turning to gastric bypass surgery to lose weight, but a shocking number of these struggle with alcoholism after the surgery. I`m talking to a man who traded his food addiction for a booze addiction.

And later, lots of people drive under the influence this time of year. See firsthand what happens when you are busted for DUI -- from arrest to sentencing and thereafter.

Let`s get started.


PINSKY: Listen to this now -- by the way, welcome to the program. Seventy-two million Americans are obese. That`s about one-third of our country who are eating themselves, literally, to death.

Take a look at this woman, featured on "Inside Edition." She weighs about 800 pounds.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here comes the bride.

REPORTER: Susan dives into a stack of pancakes, Belgium waffles, hash browns, stakes and a giant omelette made with a dozen eggs. Her snack is all washed down with Dr. Pepper.

Not exactly the bridal boot camp we see from brides, anxious to slim down and look their best for their big day.


PINSKY: That is really sad. That`s an extreme case. But many overweight folks are turning to desperate measures to lose weight. Each year, about 200,000 Americans undergo surgery. But would you trade being fat for a possible untoward effect of these surgeries, a dangerous addiction -- say to alcohol?

A new study says, in fact, this happens. Craig Thompson is the founder of He underwent gastric bypass surgery in 1997. I think that is him thereafter the surgery.

Now, Craig, you thought the surgery was the answer to your prayers until it wasn`t. Tell us what happened.

CRAIG THOMPSON, LOST 200 LBS. AFTER WEIGH LOSS SURGERY: Dr. Drew, it was not only answer to the prayer. It was the answer to every single challenge or problem that I had had for several years. If I lost the weight, I got the girl. If I lost the weight, I got the job. If I went into the doctor`s office for an in-grown toe nail, the very first thing they would say is -- well, if you would lose some weight.

So, that was the answer to absolutely everything. What was it, 15 years ago this last May, I claimed physical bankruptcy and said, "I give. Give me a fresh start. Put a scar on me. Scar that will last forever, but give me a chance to be a responsible eating citizen again" and had an open Roux en-Y gastric bypass here in Dallas with Dr. David Provost.

PINSKY: And what went wrong? I understand there`s sort of an untoward effect. Did that happen to you?

THOMPSON: Well, everything was wonderful for the first year. I was losing between a pound and two pounds a day. I went from size 56 waist to 32s in one year, from 400 pounds to 200 pounds in one year.

And I was truly living the euphoric dream. I was literally feeling better than I had ever felt in my life.

But then it started to slow down somewhere around the 18-month mark. And started finding that things that I used to never have a challenge with were now taking control of what I did.

PINSKY: Like what do you mean?

THOMPSON: I never had a problem -- well, for example, I never had a problem with alcohol. I could have a drink, not have an issue with it. And I remember calling my doctor and saying, you know, is there going to be a problem with drinking?

At that time, there was not a whole lot of information about this. And he said, you know, I don`t know if your body is going to have a dumping syndrome or not, but there should be nothing wrong with the alcohol itself.

And because of the way the gastric bypass works, I got drunk almost instantaneous. It took very little alcohol to get me drunk. You know, I got sober pretty quick, but I had lost all ability to measure what I had known for 20 some-odd years. And --

PINSKY: Let`s take a couple of calls here, Craig.


PINSKY: Let`s talk to Matt in Wisconsin.

Matt, what have you got for me?

MATT, CALLER FROM WISCONSIN: Hi, Dr. Drew. I have similar circumstances, I have gastric bypass in Mexico a few years ago and developed a drinking problem shortly after. And now, it`s turned into thiamin deficiency problem, have a nutrients problems in a severe way.

PINSKY: Well, nutrient problems can happen with gastric bypass surgery, depending which procedure you have. These weight surgeries, there`s a whole spectrum of what you can have done. And the more sort of extreme, let`s put it that way, the more likely these alcohol problems are.

Matt and Craig, I`ve seen people, over years -- well before this study was done, exploding with alcoholism weeks or months after gastric bypass surgery. I never understood why patients weren`t warned about this before they had the surgery.

I imagine Craig nor Matt, neither of you were warned. Is that correct?

THOMPSON: We weren`t warned. The truth is, Dr. Drew, that if I was warned, I was not going to be ready to hear it. Alcohol was never my problem. The only problem I had was weight.

I was smart enough. I was fast enough. I had a good job.

The only problem I had was weight. If somebody had tried to tell me I was going to develop an alcohol issue, I would not have been ready to hear that.

PINSKY: And, Matt? Go ahead, finish, Craig. Go, finish. I`m sorry. Go ahead.

THOMPSON: What I was going to say was what I learned was that the size of my tummy was never the problem. What the doctors had really treated with his a symptom, not really the core issue. And since the core issue had never been treated, then I was susceptible to other things taking its place.

PINSKY: What do you see as the core issue, my friend?

THOMPSON: Well, for me, I see that it was a family history of alcohol abuse. I have some life events that triggered that. My father, my grandfather both committed suicide after alcoholism.

And I made a choice, Dr. Drew, that I was not going to be an alcoholic. But that choice that I thought that I was making -- what I was really making was started substituting food for the alcohol and started practicing the disease through food.

PINSKY: Matt, does any of this sound familiar to you as well?

THOMPSON: Yes, it does.


MATT: Especially me going to Mexico, there was a lot less input from doctors. A lot less, I guess, people warning me of anything.

PINSKY: Are you in sobriety now, Matt? Are you getting sober?

MATT: Yes, I am.

PINSKY: Did you have a traumatic history, the way Craig did?

MATT: Not, not like that at all.

PINSKY: OK. Thanks, Matt, for that call.

And, Judith from Pennsylvania, you had a comment also?


PINSKY: Hi, Judith.

JUDITH: I know of somewhat a similar surgery. I had the surgery in 2005. And three years later, I was in my first 12-step meeting after a DUI.


JUDITH: With no history of other addiction. I think that`s the part that`s missing from this national conversation. It is very clear to me now that I am in sobriety, that the unmanageability of my life was emotional and it was from the time I was a very young child.


JUDITH: And it wasn`t until I started paying the higher prices of having a couple of DUIs and losing my job because of my alcoholism.


JUDITH: That I realized there was this other problem that were going on.

PINSKY: So, let me kind of frame this for the viewers. It`s that traumatic events happen in childhood and you have the genetics of some sort of addiction there, and this all, whether it`s substance or eating is a bid to regulate emotions that are too prolong, too intense and too negative when we correct the food problem, the emotional disregulation is still there. Now we have, let`s say, a plumbing situation that increases the effect of alcohol and, pow, off it goes.

Guys, thank you for that call, Judith. I`m going to stay with Craig.

Next up, an important message for moms who may be thinking of having weight loss surgery. In fact, not doing it could prevent families from falling apart. Let me tell you how after the break.


PINSKY: I`m back with Craig Thompson, founder of Craig lost 200 pounds after undergoing gastric bypass surgery and gained some insight into the challenges after these surgeries face by patients.

Also joining me is Meme Roth, president of National Action against Obesity. She`s an anti-obesity activist.

Now, Meme, you have a very extreme position on weight loss surgery. Tell me about that.

MEME ROTH, ANTI-OBESITY ACTIVIST (via telephone): Look, I think it`s -- I wouldn`t call it extreme. I would say it`s rational. I think it`s arrogant for us to assume our vital organs or body parts are, you know, unnecessary. We really need to look at what we`re doing when you`re talking about disfiguring or amputating internal organs.

PINSKY: Craig, amputating internal organs -- do you think of it that way in retrospect or see it as a life-saving procedure for you?

THOMPSON: It was absolutely life-saving.

Although I appreciate her opinion, I just know that it was a personal choice for me and I truly needed a fresh start.

PINSKY: And how about, you know, I want to point that we`re talking about gastric bypass surgery and it`s added risk of alcoholism, which I`ve seen for years. But I`ve also seen when people are massively obese and lose weight by any means, there`s often a very powerful emotional reaction. Because as we were talking about in the previous segment, the desire to eat excessively like that, and to create this body boundary around you with the massive obesity, the issues that predispose to that have to be dealt with also.

And, Craig, you`re saying -- has that been your experience, that people don`t deal with those underlying issues?

THOMPSON: Well, yes. I think it`s simpler than that. A phrase we hear all the time is comfort food. And that defines the entire thing.

When I drank, I was looking for that warm, comfortable feeling. When I ate, I was looking for that home feeling. I love comfort food. I love being comfortable.

And when I`m uncomfortable, that`s when things get scary. And when I`m uncomfortable, that`s when I look for something to stabilize that level of anxiety.

And since I didn`t know how to do it internally, I looked for external factors to do it, whether it was a substance or a relationship.

You know, Dr. Drew, one of the things that we`re seeing, probably even more than alcohol is sexual acting out.


THOMPSON: And sexual addictions that are happening because people are literally feeling better and there are two words we`re finding that are getting people in trouble. And it`s the two words, "I deserve". I lost the weight, I deserve this.

ROTH: None of that has anything to do with surgery. I don`t think we want to liken an invasive, permanent surgery to a, quote-unquote, "fresh start". I don`t think knowing what you know now, you would sell to anyone out there that that kind of surgery equates to the impulse control, which what you really needed help with.

THOMPSON: Well, what`s interesting is the assumption that you make on my behalf. The truth is that I would invite anybody who was in the exact place that I was, in the mental state that I was, in the physical state that I was to drive to the hospital with the consultation of their doctor this very moment and do it.

PINSKY: Well, Craig, I think --

THOMPSON: So, I really resent that. I resent that point.

PINSKY: And, Craig, I think what we are saying -- at least you and I agree on, is that there`s a piece here that we miss, which is dealing with the underlying emotional regulation issues often built on trauma.

THOMPSON: Oh, sure.

PINSKY: Meme, do you have an opinion about that?

THOMPSON: Yes, my point is we have -- look, you know this better than anyone, Dr. Drew. Your problems are going to follow you wherever you go. They`re not geographic. Your problems are also not limited to a number on a scale.

And Craig has found that out in a terrible way. And I`m in no way diminishing the severe state he was in. I just don`t want anyone out there to ever think that surgery is your answer, seeking professional help, yes.

But that kind of surgery has effects that we`re just beginning to understand the sexual acting out, the alcoholism, the problems of absorbing the nutrients vital, effects on our immune system. I just want people to be realistically fearful of that kind of action.

PINSKY: All right. Fair enough. I want to take some more calls.

And, again, before the break I said we were going to talk about how not having the surgery might able to save a family. I hope you`re getting a flavor of what we`re talking about here, this sexual acting out. If it`s a mom who never felt she was attracted before, developed this sexual addiction or she has kids and a stable husband. All of a sudden, it can destabilize everything.

Bhrenda in Pennsylvania.


PINSKY: Bhrenda.

BHRENDA: Yes, I`m here.

PINSKY: We`re waiting for you. What have you got?

BHRENDA: I feel -- in my situation, I had bariatric surgery back in 2006. And about three years later, you know, you`re covering up your food addiction and you`re using another addiction to help you get by. I came from an alcoholic, dysfunctional family. And I just -- you know, you get drunk quicker, you know. After having that surgery and, you know, a lot of times, you can use beer and so forth along with it to help boost your -- you know, you lose that craving.

PINSKY: Right.

BHRENDA: That you always had for food.

PINSKY: Right. So I get what you`re saying. It`s the same thing Craig was saying earlier. It`s easier to get drunk. The alcohol, the genetics are still there. The disregulation is still there.

I wonder if we callers such as any moms out there who have had dysfunction in their relationships as a result of this bypass surgery. Can -- does the control room have anybody like that, that they`re picking up on the line?

OK. So, again, I`m taking calls at 855-373-7395.

Meme, are you seeing this, where people are having their relationships ruined by having -- maybe not gastric bypass surgery but just losing weight generally?

ROTH: You know, actually, it`s very common for relationships to change dramatically when a partner either gains or loses a great deal of weight. It has far-reaching effects on the person and that does impact a relationship for the good or for ill.

PINSKY: We do have a caller here now --

THOMPSON: Dr. Drew --

PINSKY: Hang on one second, Craig. We go to this caller real quick.

Lori in Virginia -- Lori.

LORI, CALLER FROM VIRGINIA: Hi, Dr. Drew. Thank you for everything you do.

PINSKY: My pleasure.

LORI: I want to call and say I have a really close friend -- actually, he`s an ex-husband of mine. He had gastric bypass and the whole time we were together, I`ve known him for 30 years. He has always been a real excessive eater, very much an overeater.

Now that he`s not eating as much, he`s gone to marijuana.

PINSKY: Well, again, there`s nothing about the gastric bypass surgery that predisposes to, that I`m aware of, other addictions or than alcohol.

Craig, as you were saying, those core issues are still there. We don`t get the feel good from the food. You`re looking for the feel good from something else, right?

THOMPSON: Well, it`s just misidentification, you know?

We just didn`t know. There`s not the same social signals that go with overeating. Nobody cares if I eat and drive. There`s very little risk of me passing out in McDonald`s from having two Happy Meals.

But if I go to a bar and -- these are social signals that everybody has kind of keyed into. It`s not anything that we really learned. And remember that most of the obsessive eating that we do happens in the home. You know, in the home that we get the frostbite between the thighs from the gallon of ice cream.

PINSKY: There you go.

Next up -- thanks, Craig -- more of your calls about weight loss surgery, alcoholism, disregulation. And again I want to deal with these issues of relationships coming apart.


PINSKY: A new study reports that one in 10 gastric bypass patients struggles with alcoholism within two years of the surgery.

Craig Thompson is living proof. His post-surgery bout with alcoholism nearly killed him.

Let`s back to your calls very quickly. April in New York -- April.


PINSKY: Hello, April.

APRIL: I agree that it can lead to alcohol abuse. I had gastric bypass surgery, R en-Y five years ago, lost 130 pounds. It did not happen to me, but three people in my circle, it did happen to as well as increased sexuality.

PINSKY: Was that for you or the people around you?

APRIL: No, the people around me, in my immediate circle of gastric bypass friends.

PINSKY: Did you see where people married with families and relationships sort of had difficulties as a result?

APRIL: Oh, yes. My girlfriend that had the surgery with me, we did it as a partnership. Her marriage dissolved. She even ended up having a relationship with a woman for a few years.

And then another friend of mine almost lost her family and marriage over it.

PINSKY: So, Craig, there you go. There`s that problem you were talking about. Call it what you will -- acting out, or sexual addiction. It`s basically what you`re talking about here.

THOMPSON: It`s exactly what we`re talking about, Dr. Drew. I haven`t had a chance yet. I want to thank you for bringing this to the public.

The gastric bypass and bariatric surgery has led to many incredibly wonderful things, not only in my own life, but others. But there has to be a partnership between the medical community and the actual patient community to take a look at these effects. This is a new group or subset that doesn`t have a program forum.

You can`t go to an AA meeting and say that you have an eating problem. You can`t go to an OA meeting -- many times OA groups aren`t accepting of people who have weight loss surgery. They kind of take the positions that Meme does.

And they sit there, feeling like, all I wanted to do was lose some weight and now I`m a drunk. Now I`m a drug addict. Now my family is falling apart.

And not only is the family falling apart, but, Dr. Drew, as you know with many addicts, the main character within that home play and that home learns like an engine to move around each other very harmoniously.

PINSKY: Right.

THOMPSON: Within an hour, mom, that center gear, starts turning a different direction that the rest of the family doesn`t agree to.


THOMPSON: Mom is now cooking three bites of a meal and the rest of the family is going, what happened to mom`s cooking?

PINSKY: Yes, that`s right. It`s tectonic shifts. Everybody`s relationship starts shifting around.

THOMPSON: That`s right.

PINSKY: Karen in Wisconsin?

KAREN, CALLER FROM WISCONSIN: I do have a question for you. I had a very good experience. I must add, though, with bariatric surgery. I had it a year ago in Wisconsin, at one of the good clinics at Marshall, Wisconsin.

And my question is: what is the percentage of cross addiction amongst people that have had that surgery? My husband and I both had it done. We do it for support.

I realize you`re not feeding your family as much as you should, but that hasn`t been an issue with me, because we have our kids out of college already.

PINSKY: Right.

KAREN: So, we decided to go in as a group unit for that.

PINSKY: Listen, yes, we`re not saying don`t do this. We`re saying it has added risk and those other issues are not being properly dealt with.

But do you have that data, Craig?

THOMPSON: You know, I don`t have that data. But what I`ll tell this wonderful lady is that there`s so many online communities of peers that are being very honest about their travels that she doesn`t have to be alone. One of the leaders is Beth Sheldon Badore (ph), who`s probably one of the leaders knowing about cross addiction and is very helpful on the obesity help site.

And then at Weight Loss Surgery Channel, which I built specifically to stay plugged into other people going through this. There wasn`t a group for them to go to. There wasn`t a meeting for me to go to. I said let me create my own society.


THOMPSON: And so we do these things to stay plugged in. I knew that there was nothing else out there. My doctor, David Provost, was very supportive of everything we did.

Probably the primary message is the people sitting home right now, struggling with this, whether pre-op or post-op, you are not alone. You are not unique. There are others out there, who are suffering the same things that you have. And you do not have to sit there and feel alone.

And Dr. Drew is one of the only people that I know of that will bring you the truth, both the good and the bad about that. And for that, we`re all very grateful.

PINSKY: Thank you, Craig. And again, it`s something I`ve seen for years, is that when people lose that big, protective barrier, they can get depressed, they start acting out. Their relationships destabilize.

And then the other issue I`ve seen with gastric bypass particularly, is no one warns them about the alcoholism risk. And again, think about it. You`re taking a tube, the small bowel, and putting it down stream where things are absorbed differently and alcohol is pouring through, getting right into the blood stream and, ka-pow, it`s like taking a giant shot that you wouldn`t be able to tolerate, even, if you had your pluming hooked up properly.

All of that goes right to the brain. If you have genetic potential for addiction, ka-pow, it triggers.

Thank you, Craig. I do appreciate it.

THOMPSON: You`re welcome.

PINSKY: And, of course, Meme, thank you for joining me as well.

Next up, young men paid the price big time for driving under the influence. He put his job and kids in jeopardy. You`re going to see what happened to him after the break.


PINSKY: Now, welcome back.

Do you ever have a couple of drinks and think to yourself, I`m OK to drive? Wait until you hear my next guest`s story. It perhaps will scare you straight.

And later on, your calls on what you would like to discuss next.


PINSKY: Now, this time of year, there is a very good chance you can encounter someone on the road who is driving under the influence. Here is a scary stat. U.S. adults drove drunk about 112 million times in 2010. The CDC says alcohol-impaired drivers are involved in a one in three crash deaths. That`s nearly 11,000 in 2009.

Now, TLC`s new reality series "DUI" follows drunk drivers from arrest to sentencing. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at me. Open your mouth, raise your tongue. Raise your tongue. How long ago did you smoke? Huh?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don`t know?

MARCH: About an hour ago.


This guy`s high. There`s weed somewhere. I`m just trying to find it.

MARCH: My name is Curtis. Me being the smoker that I am, it really doesn`t have much of an effect on my driving. If anything, it helps me focus and watch out for the idiots on the road. Honestly, I knew I wasn`t going to be able to hide the weed from the officer, just from the simple fact that stinkiest stuff in town.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you`re under arrest for a DUI drugs.

MARCH: I`m not.


MARCH: I`m not.


MARCH: I don`t even smoke weed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s what`s happening, OK?


PINSKY: Joining me is the subject of DUI, Curtis March. Curtis, thanks for joining us. What happened after you got busted?

MARCH: I went to jail for DUI and possession of marijuana.

PINSKY: You look a good bit better now. Did you get some kind of treatment for addiction?

MARCH: No. I just quit cold turkey one day for the better of myself.

PINSKY: You look a bit better. How about what you were thinking back then, when you thought to yourself, oh, I can drive better intoxicated? How`s those kinds of statements look to you now?

MARCH: I mean, that was my opinion. And, I mean, I felt pretty confident in that. But, I mean, it`s definitely changed a little bit. My outlook has changed. And I don`t encourage nobody to do that.

PINSKY: How did you get involved in the TLC program?

MARCH: It just -- they were in the car when I got pulled over.

PINSKY: And you just decided to sign off after the cameras rolled?

MARCH: Yes. The producer, he was pretty cool. And he explained to me what he was doing. And I figured I might be able to help a few people along the road and maybe they wouldn`t make the same decision that I made.

PINSKY: Fair enough. Let`s go to some calls. Michelle in Texas.


PINSKY: Hi, Michelle.

MICHELLE: My name is Michelle. I had two DWIs. I was very lucky. The laws changed right after I was sentenced for my second one. The one thing I will say to everyone that want to drink and drive, please don`t do it. The life you can save may be your own. The life you may save may be your family, friends, and even Dr. Drew`s family. Don`t do it.

PINSKY: Yes. Michelle, thank you.

MICHELLE: Please don`t do it.

PINSKY: Thank you. When I`ve dealt with patients who get involved in vehicular manslaughter because of DUI, whatever the drug is they`re taking, believe me, they wish they had been the one that was killed, not whoever happened to be in their line of fire. Thank you for that, Michelle.

I think a lot of people don`t know that DUI is alcohol. There`s something called DUI drug that I think a lot of people are not aware of. And, Curtis, you got busted for DUI drug, didn`t you?

MARCH: Yes, sir, I did.

PINSKY: Tell people about that as opposed to just a DUI that people normally think of, where all the emphasis has been, which is on alcohol. Tell people about DUI drug and what that`s all about.

MARCH: Well, it`s the same charge. But, I mean, it sometimes can be a more serious effect, depending on the drug that they`re taking.

PINSKY: All right. I want people --

MARCH: In my case --

PINSKY: Yes. I think people at home need to understand. This is something that I don`t they do understand. So let me, Curtis, speak on your behalf in just a second is DUI drug is any substance other than alcohol that makes you unable to safely operate a vehicle.

So, if you take even prescription medication, as prescribed, you need to be aware that you could get pulled over like Curtis did and taken away a DUI drug. They will then take you and measure the blood levels, and if, depending on what state you`re in, if you`re above a certain amount, you could be in real serious trouble.

So, any substance, even prescription medication, people need to be aware. Curtis, would that be an accurate message on your behalf?

MARCH: Yes, sir, it would.

PINSKY: All right. Fair enough. Well, Curtis, thank you for joining us. And I would encourage people to watch "DUI" on TLC. I think these kinds of reality shows do have as positive impact, do change people`s behavior when they look at the reality of what happens, the consequences. It`s on TLC, Thursday at 10:00 pm eastern.

Next up, got a question about anything at all, I will answer it. That is up next.


PINSKY: Can spanking cause mental illness? Well, researchers in Canada say physical punishment is linked to mood disorders, substance, and personality disorders. Now, I got to tell you, this is not a mystery to those of us that work with people who have been affected by these sorts of behaviors from their parents.

There`s a 100 percent probability, if somebody gets to me, that they had childhood trauma of some type. And there`s just no doubt that physical punishment effects how our brains develop. It`s not open for debate for people that work with children and work with trauma survivors. It`s just the way it is.

Jessica on Facebook says, "There`s a difference between spanking and beating. Spanking is necessary every now and then. Beating your kid is never OK, and it could definitely cause mental illness."

I would say to the young lady that wrote in there that if you pick up an object and hit a kid, you`ve definitely crossed a threshold where the brain development is affected. It`s trauma. It shatters the brain`s regulatory capacity.

Is a simple swat a problem? Hard to say, but a practice of spanking, this research shows that it is and that fits my clinical experience. Linda in Kansas, you have a comment.

LINDA, KANSAS: I do. I think spanking is ok. I think that you should know the difference between spanking and beating.

PINSKY: I understand, but this research showed that simple spanking is associated with the higher risk of anxiety disorder, mood disorder, substance abuse, personality problems. There it is. There`s the research. And it fits with all of our clinical experience. Why do people have such trouble with this?

They`re so ready (ph) to spanking. There`s always a better alternative to spanking, always. So, why do this to kids if now we have research that shows it adds risk to their mental health? Why?

LINDA: Well, yes, I don`t know the answer to that, but I spanked my children when they were little, and they all turned out to be great people.

PINSKY: All right. Well, I`m grateful for that. I didn`t say that - - mind you, I am not saying that you spank, you`re going to have these problems. It puts them at risk for these problems. And why put your kids at risk for mental health issue? We spent the first half of the show talking about people who are overeating because of these insufficiencies in emotional regulation, a good way to induce some most of the regulatory problems. Spank your kids (INAUDIBLE) your kids.

Megan in Kansas, you have a comment or question?

MEGAN, KANSAS: Yes. I am just having a lot of issues. I called in the other night. I need to know if there`s an alternative to -- i was addicted to cocaine for a few years.

PINSKY: I`m sorry, to cocaine?



MEGAN: I got out off that basically by watching "Rehab with Dr. Drew," and did it on my own.

PINSKY: So, hold on. So, seeing -- I`m glad that the program had that affect on you. Now, so, seeing that program motivated you to stop using cocaine. Now, mind you, my intention of that program is to motivate people to get treatment, because addiction doesn`t go away without treatment. So, I imagine you substituted something else?



MEGAN: That was Adderall and never been prescribed it. Basically, I would call (ph) with all my doctors and said I wanted it because it helped me do all the things I wanted to do.

PINSKY: Awesome.

MEGAN: Because of my history with the amphetamines, they refused to give me that.

PINSKY: Oh, good. So, they -- wait a minute, you didn`t tell me about amphetamine. You said cocaine addiction.

MEGAN: Well, I guess the amphetamines (ph) or whatever the Adderall.

PINSKY: Because of your stimulant history, they didn`t want to give you dextroamphetamine. OK. Got it. Excellent. Your doctor did a good thing there.

MEGAN: On top of that, I`m an alcoholic and I drink every day of the week. And on my days off, I start drinking when I wake up.

PINSKY: Megan, all these things go together. I wanted to get rid of the terms addiction of alcoholism and just call it something like, you know, reward activation disorder. That your reward system is -- because whatever the substance is or the behavior that activates that same part of the brain, it all feeds into this process you`re talking about. So, Megan, you`ve tried all these different things. None of this is working. Your life is out of control. How about treatment? What a novel idea.

MEGAN: It is. Yes, I have a great job, actually. And, I like the effects that the Adderall has, but not the day after.

PINSKY: Megan, that was a great move. It`s a nice left turn when I asked you about treatment. That great job you have, you`re going to lose it. The addiction is going to take everything meaningful to you away from you. So, before that happens, why not get some treatment? Why not?

MEGAN: Yes. I could, I guess.

PINSKY: Yeah, you could. Yeah, you could. It`s available everywhere. You`re in Kansas. There`s lots of great treatment centers out there. I mean, for goodness sakes, why -- and if you need to stay with this until your life falls apart to motivate you, I`m sorry. A lot of people do need to do that.

And, I hope for your sake that you take my advice and do something first. Let`s go off to Crystal in Texas. Crystal?

CRYSTAL, TEXAS: Hi, Dr. Drew. Dr. Drew, I`m a recovering alcoholic/addict and I was given Vivitrol when I was being discharged from treatment.


CRYSTAL: From then, I know about Vivitrol, they told me it`s an opiate blocker, blocks the -- like the receptors.

PINSKY: Right.

CRYSTAL: My question about the Vivtrol is, what are the long-term side-effects --


CRYSTAL: -- you know, of using this?

PINSKY: OK. So, Crystal, I have very limited time here. So, let me take a break. And you`re asking a very interesting question. This is a shot that people are given at the end of treatment that seems to actually do better in terms of reducing the risk of relapse, and a lot of other interventions, including things like cognitive behavioral therapy and beating (ph) with positions and all this.

So, some people advocate very strongly to use this particular product. But it`s kind of a complicated question. So, I want to go to a break first and take more of your calls after this.


PINSKY: All right. Now, back to your calls. I was speaking to Crystal in Texas, and Crystal was talking about a shot of a substance called Naltrexone which blocks the opiate receptors in the brain. So, if you were, say, an opiate user or a pain-killer user, you wouldn`t get high from the opiates. But Crystal, they gave it to you for alcoholism, is that right?

CRYSTAL: Yes. Well, for both, actually. They actually called it Vivitrol.

PINSKY: No. I know Vivitrol. It`s a shot. It`s long-acting. It`s about a month. It`s a little expensive. That`s why a lot of people don`t use it, but it is good. I mean, it does reduce certainly prevents you from getting high if you relapse on opiates. And it seems to reduce the drive to relapse for cocaine and alcohol.

I have not used it a lot in my clinical practice. I`ve used it occasionally. Sometimes, it really works, and sometimes, it`s a needless expense. Bottom line, my dear, is do that daily work of recovery. It doesn`t replace, it only makes possible you changing everything about your life. Not just not doing drugs. Understood?

CRYSTAL: Yes, yes. I look at it more like a safety net. You know what I mean?

PINSKY: Right.

CRYSTAL: Like, they say things about six months for your brain to reboot.

PINSKY: That`s right.

CRYSTAL: I`ve been using about 11 years.

PINSKY: There you go. But in meantime, daily 12-step, OK?

CRYSTAL: All right. Thank you very much.

PINSKY: Thank you, my dear. OK. I`ve got Ron in Michigan. Ron, what do you got?

RON, MICHIGAN: Yes. I was inquiring about the implant for the alcoholic --

PINSKY: OK. So, you`re -- again, this is something very similar to what our last caller, Crystal, just had. She was given a shot to block the drive to use or block the high from drugs. You`re talking about an implant.

I think you`re talking about the antabuse implant, which is antabuse is a chemical that alcohol can take everyday as a pill that when he or she takes it, and then drinks gets violently and dangerously sick. Now, again -- yes, that`s what you`re talking about?

RON: Well, I didn`t know what the implant was.

PINSKY: Well, there`s an excellent implant very much like the shot, the Vivitrol, that we were hearing about from Crystal, but I think you`re talking about antabuse. And this is -- because the deal is, if an alcoholic wants to use, what do they do with their antabuse that day that they want to use?

RON: They give it up.

PINSKY: They don`t take it. That`s right. And so, this is the way of getting around that and implanting it so it`s given to you over long period of time. I have a couple of problems with it. One is, again, these are all techniques to make recovery possible, not to cure your illness but to make recovery possible so you make the other changes in your life that are so necessary, number one.

Number two, my patients always drink antabuse, and it can be dangerous.

RON: No, no, no.

PINSKY: Well, I`m just saying. I don`t want to put people in harm`s way. And then, number three, I don`t want people to get the sense that this is a substitute for their treatment, which they sometimes do. They think, oh, now I`m cured. Alcoholism is over and they go back with their old behaviors and things and end up in more trouble.

So, it is something that can be a safety barrier for you if you have trouble containing your behaviors knowing that that`s there, but it`s not a substitute for rigorous recovery, right?

RON: Where do they put it?

PINSKY: You know, I don`t know where it`s implanted. I`ve actually had patients dig those things out. So, it`s the other thing that worries - -

RON: I went to my doctor today.


RON: And I asked her about the implant.


RON: And she said she`s never heard of it. She`s an M.D.

PINSKY: I think it may be primarily on a research basis still now. So, it`s something you have to get from a tertiary center, I recall. But I`ll tell you what, dude, if you want to stop drinking alcohol, you can always do at the old fashioned way, show up at a meeting, raise your hand, and say I want to stop. OK? Try that, yes?


PINSKY: All right, buddy. OK. All right. More of your calls next.

But first, we`re going to go off to our stories of courage.



PINSKY: Army sergeant Aaron Cosy (ph) lost both of his legs in a roadside bomb in Afghanistan last August. Shortly after though, once he recovered, he made a promise. He would make it home in time for Christmas and walk through his parents` front door. Aaron and his wife share their inspiring story as part of Robin Meade`s stories of courage this Wednesday night. Here now is a preview.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am thrilled to be here. The honor of my life is being his wife.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I knew exactly what I was doing When I signed up for my job. When I was injured, I was actually on my way to deal with the IED. And, they put up secondary IEDs around it. I missed one. It took a while before I even realized what had happened. I was extremely weak. I could barely even transfer from my wheelchair to the mat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He`s worth it. He`s totally worth it. He`s the most amazing person I`ve ever met.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As soon as I was fully conscious of everything, I said I wasn`t coming home till I could walk through my mom`s door and I said I`d do it by Christmas, and I`m going to do it.



PINSKY: Watch that and other inspirational stories of courage on Wednesday, 7:00 p.m. To see exclusive interviews with other service members, go to


PINSKY: Let`s get back to your calls. Valerie in Tennessee -- Valerie


PINSKY: Hi, Valerie.

VALERIE: Yes. Can you hear me?

PINSKY: I do. Go right ahead.

VALERIE: OK. Hi. Thanks for what you do, by the way.

PINSKY: Thank you.

VALERIE: I`ve been on anti-depressant medication for about 20 years and just recently started drinking a lot more in the last six months.


VALERIE: And I know they can have a sedating effect together, but I`m basically wondering what the real risk is for going to sleep and not waking up.

PINSKY: What medication are you taking?

VALERIE: Klonopin and Atarax.

PINSKY: Atarax? So, these are all anxiety medications for you. Atarax is actually an antihistamine like Benadryl which sometimes use for anxiety and sleep. That`s a very nice move by your doctor to avoid more of the benzodiazepines, which Klonopin is a part of, and those are the ones that are more dangerous and more addictive.

And when combined with alcohol, you know, it`s hard to say for given individual what the risk is. Sometimes, it depends on how much you`re using, how long you`ve been using, how much there`s a sudden change in use. The biggest risk with these kinds of things is that you would aspirate.

That is to say you fall asleep and your swallowing mechanism is impaired because of the medicine and the alcohol and contents into your mouth get into your lungs and cause overwhelming pneumonia and sepsis. That can be a real problem. In terms of just not breathing, that`s a hard risk to assess.

I mean, if you`re taking more than two milligrams of Klonopin at bedtime and then you`re drinking half of bottle or something. That`s a real serious situation. What is your actual situation?

VALERIE: Right. Well, see, the main -- that`s pretty much it. I take three milligrams a day, two milligrams of that at bedtime. But, some days, I can go through half a bottle of vodka.

PINSKY: All right. Valerie? So, dude, come on -- dude. I don`t know where that came from, but listen, my friend, my dear, this is alcoholism. Let`s not fool around here.

VALERIE: Right, right.

PINSKY: And the Klonopin is also fueling your addiction. You need to deal with that. Don`t mess around with anything else. It`s developing fast, and it`s going to have consequences. Please get help before you hurt yourself or somebody else.

PINSKY: Next caller.

CATHY, ALABAMA: Hey, Dr. Drew, my question has to do with father/daughter relationship and the effect that those can have on the female when she goes to establish relationships with men.

PINSKY: You want to tell me what`s specifically going on? Is this about you or your daughter?

CATHY: Well, I`m just wondering about it in general. Actually, there`s conditions that I see in my husband`s family with his daughters. And I also wonder about myself, too.

PINSKY: OK. All right. What`s your situation? Did your dad abandon you, leave you?

CATHY: Well, I don`t know it`s really a bad situation. I just -- when I grew up, I had a father that was not present all the time.

PINSKY: OK. That`s called abandonment. And then, young girls really feel that. They feel responsible for it. They feel a deep sense of longing and absence and emptiness when that`s happened. And, you know, the fact is that our early relationships set the map. They`re the fittedness for our relationships in our adult life.

And when those relationships are particularly problematic, that becomes a problem that we are urged to solve in our adult life. And the part that people don`t tell you about is it forms attractions. You know, this powerful thing that we sort of romance and we learn to sort of cultivate and follow and make movies about and everything, that -- if you had a problematic, abandoning or abusive relationship with your dad, you are now attracted in your adult life to people that are exactly like that.

That`s your sense of love. And it is a way, attempt to master and solve that problem once and for all. Now, men are -- you know, women seem disproportionately affected by their relationship with dad, and men, of course, are affected by relationship mom to some extent. But this is something you must pay attention to, and this is where therapy has tremendous benefit.

By reforming a new relationship, a new attachment with somebody healthy, it rewires those maps. Quickly to Charlene in Minnesota. I`ve got just a couple of seconds, Charlene. What do you got?

CHARLENE, MINNESOTA: Thank you for having me, Dr. Drew. I have a situation where my father and my brother are not communicating well. It`s been 35 years.

PINSKY: Oh, boy.

CHARLENE: My brother is very distraught, suicidal. He does not feel love.

PINSKY: OK. Listen, Charlene, stop right there. If your brother is suicidal, I don`t care what the cause is, that`s a medical emergency. You got to get him to care right away. If he will not go, you call law enforcement. They will handle it for you. And never assume it`s something that somebody is just trying to get attention by saying, you`re not in a position to determine that.

When somebody says I`m thinking about harming myself and I have a plan, that`s a medical emergency. People forget that depression is a potentially fatal problem. Please take action.

I want to thank you all for calling. I want to thank you, indeed, for watching as well. We`ll see you next time. Nancy Grace starts right now.