An Intervention, Part 2: Confronting Brandon

Confronting Brandon
Dr. Phil facilitates an intervention with a family desperate to save their drug-addicted son.

Before bringing Brandon out on stage, Dr. Phil reiterates to the family that the sole purpose of this intervention is to get a commitment from Brandon. "The idea is that he leaves here and goes directly to the treatment facility," he says.

Dr. Phil reminds them how they are to present their evidence that Brandon has a drug problem. He tells them that they should also include how Brandon's actions affect each of them. For example, he tells Debbie: "You need to tell him what it feels like when you have to go up to his room every morning wondering whether he's alive or dead." After Debbie presents her data, Dr. Phil explains that he's going to ask Brandon for a commitment to get treatment. If he doesn't get one, he'll ask Doug to present his data, and again ask Brandon for a commitment. "He either goes to treatment or he goes to jail, but he doesn't go home," Dr. Phil clarifies.

Dr. Phil invites Brandon on stage and explains the rules: "Ground rule number one is that we're going to have a conversation. Everybody stays here and we're going to complete the conversation. I want you guys to communicate with each other. Don't interrupt each other. You'll all get a full opportunity to respond when someone is finished talking."

Dr. Phil starts by asking Doug and Debbie, "You believe that this family is in crisis, due to the fact that [Brandon] has a drug problem." They agree that statement is true. Dr. Phil then asks Brandon if he agrees or disagrees.

"Disagree," he says.

"You don't have a drug problem?" Dr. Phil asks.

"No, I don't think I do," says Brandon.

Dr. Phil asks him if he did drugs yesterday or today.

"No sir," he says."I didn't want it. Period. End of story," says Brandon.

Dr. Phil spells out the alternative: His parents will not allow him to come back home, and since he has failed some recent drug screenings, he's facing a revocation of probation.

"So you're saying that I'm going to jail," says Brandon. "Well, I guess I have no choice, do I, Dr. Phil?" Brandon argues that getting treatment is not his decision.

Dr. Phil checks with the entire family, including Brandon's brother and sister, to see if they are all ready to own this decision. With difficulty, they all agree. Dr. Phil turns back to Brandon, "So you're saying it's not your decision, but you're willing to accept their decision?"

"I have to," says Brandon.

Brandon walks off stage and into the greenroom, where he takes off his microphone and throws it. His parents join him. When they try to speak to him, he tells them to shut up.

Dr. Phil enters the greenroom and asks Brandon if he has any questions. Brandon remains silent. Dr. Phil asks to speak to Brandon alone.

"I don't want to talk to you. You don't know me," says Brandon.

"You don't know me either," says Dr. Phil. He offers Brandon an opportunity to speak with his lawyer. Brandon refuses. "I think he's going to tell you that you have a choice," says Dr. Phil. "And I think that you've made the right choice."

"I didn't make it," says Brandon.

"Well, you made the choice to agree to do what your parents want you to do. And isn't it just possible that it might be the right and good thing for you to do?" Dr. Phil asks.

Brandon is silent for a minute. "I want to go," Brandon says. "Wherever you have planned for me to go, I'm ready to go."

Brandon is led out of the studio, while Dr. Phil talks with his parents. He tells them, "You'll be met at the gate by the facility. Everything will be set and done, and remember, you aren't dealing with him, you are dealing with the drugs. So don't buy into it. Don't discuss it. Let him pout all the way there. Get him into the treatment facility, and 10 days from now, he'll be a totally different human being."

Dr. Phil talks with the audience about what happened with Brandon. "The whole definition of a structured intervention is getting help for somebody who doesn't want it. But you'll notice, through it all, he never left."

Dr. Phil explains that that there was some manipulation with Brandon's claim that it wasn't his choice, as if he was expecting Dr. Phil to say, "Well, no, I want you to want to." But, Dr. Phil explains, "What I want is you to go there and check your ass in. You can like it later, but you check in now." He explains that is the hard ball you have to play when you're doing an intervention. "And the difference is it gives them another chance. It gets them through detox, and then rehabilitation, and then they have a chance," he says.

Dr. Phil asks each family member, including Brandon's siblings, if they think Brandon has a drug problem. They all say yes. He turns back to Brandon: "Your whole family thinks you have a drug problem. You don't have to agree with anything. You just have to hear it. I've looked at your history, and I believe you have a drug problem. I think you're out of control, but I'm not mad at you about it. I don't think it's you who's doing some of the things you're doing," he says.

He asks Brandon if he's getting along with everybody. Brandon nods. Dr. Phil plays a videotape for Brandon of him yelling at his mother. After the tape, Brandon says it was a private conversation. Dr. Phil points out that he knew about the cameras.

Dr. Phil asks Debbie to tell Brandon why she thinks he has a drug problem. She consults her notes: "Brandon, from June to September 2003, you tested positive for Hydrocodone at each visit with your probation officer. In April 2003, you admitted to a counselor that you were using Hydrocodone."

"That's private," says Brandon.

Debbie continues: "March and April 2003, a friend of yours told me that you would take up to 20 pills of Hydrocodone a day. February 2003, I found marijuana in a pill bottle in your backpack. January 2002, you admitted to me that you've tried just about every drug except LSD and heroin," she says.

Again, Brandon tells her that's private. Dr. Phil tells him not to interrupt.

Debbie continues to state Brandon's drug-related behavior over the past few years, including how it makes her feel. "I need you to know that your drug abuse makes me feel hopeless. I feel so disappointed that someone like you, who is so gifted and so talented, is making the choice to use drugs. You've told me on more than one occasion that you feel like the biggest loser in the world. You're not, Brandon. I love you more than anything in the world," says Debbie.

"Every morning when I come up to wake you up, I have to take a deep breath because when I open that door, I don't know if you're going to be dead or alive. I've planned your funeral. I've picked out your pallbearers," she says, getting emotional.

Debbie follows this up with more data about Brandon's arrest record and how often she and Doug have bailed him out.

Dr. Phil asks Brandon, "What do you hear your mother saying?"

"Private issues," says Brandon. When Dr. Phil asks him if he disputes the truth of those issues, Brandon says, "Some of them I dispute the truth, but they're private. So I'm done speaking."

Dr. Phil explains to him that he doesn't have to speak, but he has to hear what his family has to say, and then he's going to have to make a choice. "Sometimes we don't realize what our behavior is really like. We can't always see what others see, because we are on the inside." To show Brandon what he can look like, Dr. Phil plays another video of Brandon raging at his mother.

"Brandon," says Dr. Phil, "that is a miserable way to feel. It is a miserable way to exist."

Brandon says he was having a bad day, and reiterates that it was private.

Dr. Phil tells Brandon what his family is trying to do. "They are not yelling at you; they are telling you that you have a disease. They want you to get help. Is that something you're willing to do?" he asks. Brandon won't answer. Dr. Phil turns now to Doug and asks him what he has to say.

"Brandon," Doug begins, "your mother and I have been told the amount that you're taking would most likely kill the average person who would take that mixture of drugs."

"Which ones are you talking about now?" asks Brandon. "The ones I was doing four years ago? The ones I was doing two years ago? Or the ones " the one " that I'm doing now?" He pauses. "One. No alcohol, nothing else."

"Two and a half years ago," continues Doug, "when we got in an argument, you picked up a piece of weight equipment and you threatened me with that."

Starting to understand why he was brought to the show, Brandon asks, "So is this show about me? Did you lie to me to get me here? Answer my question!"

Dr. Phil asks Doug what he wants to see happen. "I desperately want Brandon to get the help that he needs," Doug says. "Brandon, you need help, professional help."

"And you think this is gonna do it?" asks Brandon.

"I know that in your mind, over the last couple of years, you don't think I love you," says Doug. "But I do, I just don't know how to help you."

"Have I asked for your help?" asks Brandon. "If I haven't asked for it, then don't give it to me."

"I just can't imagine the phone call," continues Doug, "in the middle of the night telling me that you've been killed."

After Doug and Debbie address their son, Dr. Phil continues. "Brandon, your parents have gone over years of factual data of constant and chronic drug use," says Dr. Phil. "You know it and I know it. Personal or otherwise, it's true that you have a drug problem."

Brandon says he doesn't want help. "I'm old enough to make my own decisions and lying to me to get me here is not the way to do it," he says.

"Well that's very self-righteous and that's great," says Dr. Phil. "You can get up on your hind legs and get self-righteous and sanctimonious, but you are the biggest liar of the group."

Dr. Phil explains that his parents have gone to great measures to get him professional help at an inpatient treatment facility. "They can't make you go, but they can offer it to you. And you're alternative is you're going to go home and live off your parents and continue to sleep until two in the afternoon. You have no job, you have no job prospects, you have no future prospects," says Dr. Phil.

"How do you know what I got planned for my future?" Brandon asks Dr. Phil, and then repeats the question to his parents.

"Well, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior," says Dr. Phil. "One has only to look at what you've done to predict what you're going to do." He tells Brandon that his parents have given him a lot of time, effort, energy and love, and he thinks Brandon owes them this.