Addictions: Vicodin

Addictions: Vicodin
Dr. Phil speaks delivers a wake-up call to guests with very dangerous addictions.
What started out as a one-time prescription from a physician three years ago has turned into a consuming addiction for JoAnn. Every day she takes 20 extra-strength Vicodin, a prescription painkiller, just to feel normal. "The only thing that matters is the pills," says JoAnn, who spends up to $700 a month buying the pills over the Internet. JoAnn says she panics when she begins to run out of pills and she only sees it getting worse. "I feel like every tissue in my body is saturated with Vicodin," says JoAnn, who wants a wake-up call from Dr. Phil.

A few months ago, JoAnn checked herself into a drug rehab program, but only stayed five days. While she was there, she called her husband, Corey, and asked him to bring her some pills, which he did. "I hated myself for doing it," says Corey, "but I can't stand to see her suffer." Corey doesn't talk to JoAnn about getting off the drug because the conversation usually ends in an argument. "If she's mad at me, then I don't think I'm helping her at all," he says.
JoAnn tells Dr. Phil that she wants to stop because it doesn't feel good anymore, and she's afraid she could die. She thinks that Dr. Phil would be objective, unlike her family, who have enabled her.

"You got that right," Dr. Phil tells her. "Because you're running a con on yourself and on your husband and on everybody else in your life, and you're not going to run that on me. You're an addict and you are out of control."

Dr. Phil reads from the e-mail JoAnn wrote to him: "'I never leave my house except to pick up my kids from school a block away. I tried to quit on my own but the physical withdrawal overtakes me. I don't know why, but the people in my life keep giving me these pills. I wonder if I can ever be happy without these pills. Can you help me? Can you give me some tough answers? I am afraid that I am going to die over this, after all it has happened to others. My family deserves more than this, my kids mean the world to me. I worship them but I'm dying inside.'"

JoAnn admits to being addicted and Corey agrees.

"And she was in detox at a hospital and you came to see her and brought her the drug. What the hell are you thinking?" Dr. Phil asks Corey, who admits he made the wrong decision when he brought JoAnn the pills.

Dr. Phil makes it clear to JoAnn that she deceives people to get drugs. "Your whole life is a lie," he tells her, pointing out that

she lies to get the drugs through the Internet and, although she sees a therapist, she never told him about her drug addiction until she knew she would be coming on the show. "You've constructed this whole thing and you're trying to navigate your way through it. Well, you're not going to navigate your way through this with me. You're a drug addict, woman!"

"I know that," says JoAnn.

"You need to get absolutely honest about this with yourself and with your husband," Dr. Phil tells her. He tells Corey that he gets a payoff for enabling her drug addiction, because he's afraid she may leave him if she gets sober. Corey admits that's true, that he doesn't want to lose JoAnn. "You don't have her now," Dr. Phil tells Corey. "You're living with the drugs; you're not living with her."

Dr. Phil tells JoAnn how she can get off this drug. "Number one, you have to stop lying and you have to be honest with yourself. The first step is admitting it. And then your life has to become absolutely transparent," he tells her. "If you're getting these off the Internet, then get rid of your computer if you have to. Shred your credit cards. Do whatever you have to do. Go get blood tests every day and have somebody check them to see if you're on the drugs."

Dr. Phil informs her that the withdrawal symptoms from Vicodin are not severe or life threatening. "You won't be comfortable for four or five days, but the half-life on this is not great, you'll have this out of your system sooner than you might think," he says. "But then you have to deal with putting your life back together. And you have to start putting things in its place. You have to start exercising, you have to start doing honest cognitive therapy with your highly skilled cognitive therapist."

Dr. Phil sends a message to JoAnn's family: "If you care about her, then you need to support her sobriety. You need to support her getting off these drugs and not enable her getting on them, and if you become a casualty in the process, I'm sorry. If you love her, you will take that risk."

Dr. Phil turns to Corey: "You've got to get some guts, you've got to get some spine and say, 'I'm willing to tell her no, and if she yells at me and threatens me, I'll take that risk because when the fog clears, she's going to look at me and say, 'You had the guts to get me right and get me real, and I respect that.'"

Corey says he will do everything he can to support JoAnn's sobriety.

"If you want to check in to a hospital, do it," Dr. Phil tells JoAnn. "Whatever you need to do, you need to stop this." JoAnn tells Dr. Phil that he is getting through to her and she won't lie anymore. "I will continue to help and support you," Dr. Phil tells her, "but if you lie to me, you will find me damn hard to find."