An Addict in the Family: Paula, Jim, Anthony

A Family Torn Apart

"How do you feel about being here right now?" Dr. Phil asks C.J.'s family.

"Honestly, I feel very, very hopeful, more hope than I've felt in a long, long time," Paula says.

"I feel a little nervous, but I feel at peace," Jim says. "I feel at strength because we've been there, we've tried it all, and we feel like C.J.'s at the end of her life, and it's been a tough road for all of us."

"How about you, Anthony?" Dr. Phil asks C.J.'s 28-year-old sibling.

"I feel happy that we're here so that C.J. can hopefully get her life back, but at the same time, I feel like we shouldn't even be here in the first place. We shouldn't even have come close to being this far," he says. 

"You'd like to just shake her until her teeth rattle, wouldn't you?"

"I've actually tried that, years ago. I've tried everything that a brother and a friend could've done," Anthony says.

[AD]"You know I'm going to tell you the truth as I see it. You can agree with it or not, but we've got to call a spade a spade here," Dr. Phil tells the family. "We're either going to get this fixed, or you're going to bury your daughter."

"That's right," Jim says.

"I'm surprised she's not dead already," Dr. Phil says. "We're either going to pick her up in a body bag, or we're going to turn this around … Am I being clear enough?"

"Oh, yeah," Paula says, while Jim nods in agreement.

"So that means you guys have to get your thinking right, because I'm hearing a lot of guilt out of you two about not seeing this sooner, about putting stress and pressure on her," he tells Paula and Jim. 

 

In an earlier recorded interview, Paula explains how it all started. "June of 1999, I knew something was wrong and went into the doctor, and they found a mass the size of a baby's head on my right ovary. I was looking at maybe a few years," she says. "We really weren't able to be there for her like we could've been or should've been. We were so busy trying to survive. Somehow, C.J. disconnected. You could see how C.J. just kept distancing herself from the fear of losing her mom."

Back onstage, Dr. Phil tells Paula, "What I hear you saying is ‘I feel so guilty because I wasn't there because I had cancer.' Well, how dare you! How dare you get cancer? Are you kidding me? That's not something you feel guilty about. That's just the reality of the family." 

Paula and Jim think C.J. is only taking prescription drugs. Dr. Phil reviews a list of the drugs C.J. is currently using, which includes: Oxycontin, Loratab, Percocet, Vicodin, Adderall, Xanax, tranquilizers, cough syrup with codeine, morphine pills, ice (methamphetamine), heroin/tar heroin, crack cocaine and marijuana.

Dr. Phil informs C.J.'s family that a family friend injected her with heroin last week. The parents don't know who but Dr. Phil says they think highly of this friend. "What I'm telling you is this runs wider, it runs deeper, and it runs more dangerous than what you guys are aware of. And she mixes these drugs on a regular basis," he says.

[AD]Joani corroborates that statement. "Her favorite combination is opiates and Xanax or tranquilizers, and that combination together is very dangerous, but on the other hand, she's a bit of a garbage head. She'll do anything that you have," she says.

"How is she getting these drugs without money, in your opinion?" Dr. Phil asks Joani.

"In my opinion, C.J. gets the drugs by her opportunity of clutching onto men. She spends a lot of time with different men. Not prostitution in the traditional sense, but she's young, she's beautiful " and Paula and I talked about this " she goes from one man's bed to another, and I believe that's how she supports a drug habit," Joani says.

"It's very sad as a father. It's very sad," Jim says. "And I told C.J., â€˜My greatest fears are you're going to be in prison for a long time, or we're going to be at the cemetery, visiting your grave.'" Jim's voice trembles as he says, "And when Joani came in, she told me my fears were real."

"Do you feel ownership in this situation?" Dr. Phil asks.

"Yes, I do," he says.

"Because she says to us that you've let her down because you had what she calls an affair, and you call it ‘falling away'? You call it what?"

"I broke."

"You say you don't like to use the word affair. I don't want to play semantics with you," Dr. Phil tells him.

"One day, I went the wrong direction," Jim says.

After a year of chemotherapy and trying to survive cancer, Paula discovered an e-mail from another woman detailing a sexual encounter with Jim. Jim says it was a one-time thing because the thought of losing his wife was too much to bear.

 

"OK, look. You have to understand, C.J. made her choices, but everybody has a role in this. This didn't happen in a vacuum," Dr. Phil tells the couple. He turns to Anthony, "And what do you have to do with this? You're the good kid. I mean, everybody looks for a role in the family. You're the good kid."

Anthony works in law enforcement. "I see junkies every day I go to work. It's a little bit different when it's your sister, because every time we bring in a new intake, a new prisoner, a new inmate, and I know it's a female, the first thing that enters my mind: ‘God, don't let it be C.J., not while I'm here at least.' I pulled up her booking photos. I know her mug shots, and she looks like crap. And that's not my sister, and that tears me up," he says.

[AD]"But it is your sister," Dr. Phil stresses.

"It is my sister," Anthony agrees.

"And you can be mad at her, and you have the right to be, but you don't want to see her dead."

"No. I'd rather she wear an orange jumpsuit than be in a grave. Absolutely," he says.

Dr. Phil turns to Paula and Jim. "Are we on the same page here?"

"Yes."