When Stephanie last appeared on the show, she was a single mother of four with a 60 painkillers-a-day habit.
Dr. Phil sent Stephanie to Florida Detox, where in just three days, she was freed from drugs without painful withdrawal symptoms.
Stephanie has stayed clean for four months. "I feel like Dr. Phil gave me a wake-up call. Before I was on the Dr. Phil show, my life was a lie. I have kicked this habit and I'm a better person for it. I've replaced the drugs with discipline. I've lost 28 pounds so far," she explains. "Getting the Vicodin was very time consuming. It was what I thought about all day long. I spend a lot of time journaling now and reading. I ask a lot of, 'What am I going to do with my life?'"
Now Stephanie has a new problem. "Chris and I have been married for five and a half years, and we've been separated for about 16 months. The state that my marriage is in is a disaster. We fight very viciously. I don't trust him at all. I caught Chris cheating on me. It was the worst thing that happened to me."
"She seemed more approachable when she was high. Now she's always angry," says Chris.
"I feel worse now than I did when I was on drugs," says Stephanie. "He just makes me feel like garbage. It just brings me back to that place where I want to be medicated. I don't know how to rebuild my relationship with Chris. I want to have somebody in my life who loves and respects me. Dr. Phil, now that I've kicked my Vicodin habit, what do I do with the rest of my life?"
Physically, Stephanie says she feels fantastic. She tells Dr. Phil, "I feel stronger. I feel alive. I have dignity. I'm not in that shame that I felt all that time. So much shame. It's freeing just to have the shame lifted from me. Knowing that I don't have the drugs in me is a bonus."
Dr. Phil reiterates that detox is the beginning of the process. "It's not like you go down there and cure your addiction in three days. It's the beginning of the process and gives you a huge running start."
He looks to Chris. "She's different," comments Dr. Phil.
Chris, who's also been clean for four months, agrees. "Yeah, she's a lot different. It's been a good thing as far the addiction goes and the drug use, but it's still not easy. Everybody makes mistakes and we try to learn from them and move on."
Dr. Phil acknowledges how hard Stephanie has worked and how good she looks. But he has a few questions for her. "Are you attending meetings on a regular and intense basis?"
"No, I'm not, and that is something I'd like to incorporate," she says. Right now, Stephanie follows up regularly with a doctor from Florida Detox.
Her strategy concerns Dr. Phil. "You're walking a tight rope and you absolutely have to do that. Because it's important for you. You've worked too hard to come this far to not do what you have to do."
He turns to Chris. "Tell me why you think you two should be married."
"I think we should be married because we do love each other very much and we do have the children, which are the most important thing to us," says Chris.
"And the most important thing to the children is having parents that love and care about them and make them a priority," says Dr. Phil. He thinks they should both consider one of his rules: Never invest more than you can afford to lose. "There is no union, there is no bond, there is no coming together that is worth losing yourself, your life, your health, your sanity. Can you afford to be in this relationship with Chris?" he asks Stephanie.
"Not as it is, no," she says.
Dr. Phil points out that they've caused each other great pain. He asks Chris, "Do you think it's healthy for her to be with you right now?"
"That's why I'm here to find out," he says.
"Why do you want to be married to her? You don't behave like you love her," says Dr. Phil.
"Well, we've been separated for 14 months, Dr. Phil," says Chris. "The reason the cheating is an issue is because —"
"The reason the cheating is in issue is because you cheated," interrupts Dr. Phil.
"Absolutely. Everybody has needs. I addressed that need," says Chris.
"This is a deal-breaker for me," says Stephanie, pointing out that although they were separated when he cheated, they were dating and being intimate. "We were intimate six days before I caught him in bed with somebody else. We wore our wedding bands and we even discussed that there would be nobody else. And the fact that he keeps making that point, that we were separated at the time, it's like making a sandcastle and kicking it down every time."
Dr. Phil commends them both for the work they've done getting off drugs, but now it's time for them to make decisions about what is constructive to do in their lives, and what is not. For example, Chris has been abusive with Stephanie over the years; she's had restraining orders against him; he's been drunk and abusive in front of their children; he's tried to sabotage her and he's cheated.
Stephanie adds, "Chris once told me it was my job to fill his belly and empty his ba**s."
"How do you get past that?" asks Dr. Phil.
"I don't know how to get past that," she says.
"Here's the thing. I ask guests who come here to answer some important questions. I ask them to identify the 10 defining moments, seven critical choices and the five pivotal people that you've encountered in your life," says Dr. Phil.
He goes over some of Stephanie's defining moments. Many of them are negative and revolve around Chris. Dr. Phil tells them, "This is a toxic, toxic relationship. And you are not husband material right now, and you are not wife material right now. What you have to do is survive right now, and to enter this toxic relationship is not a good thing."
Dr. Phil recommends they each get separate counseling before even deciding whether or not to work on their relationship.