Saving Karli: The Intervention

In a previous interview, Karli talks about drugs. "I know drugs and using them runs in my family, in that pretty much everyone in my family does drugs or has," Karli says. "And I don't know, it's weird because I feel like everyone around me, and everyone where I live does them, so it's really not that big of a deal. When I do drugs, it makes it so that I don't feel pain, and I don't have to deal with anything else that's going on in my life. It's very common. Especially in Newport. OxyContin is very big. Pretty much all of Orange County, I'd say. I don't feel it's a problem, I feel it's just something I do. I mean, I've gone to meetings, and I've done all that. At this point, it's not anything that I need to worry about."

Onstage, Dr. Phil meets Karli. "Well, Karli, we've been talking about a lot of things today, including you. Why did you want to be here today?"

"I wanted to talk about my story, and I know that my story is probably a lot different than other people who are adopted," she says.

"Is that the most important thing you have to talk to me about?" he asks.

"I don't know what you mean," Karli says.

"Yes, you do. You know exactly what I mean," Dr. Phil says. "There is no question that you have, I think, very legitimate issues and questions about adoption, and not only about adoption but about, for lack of a better word, just abandonment. And I think that's very involved in where you are right now. There's no question about that. But I'm talking to these people, and they're coming to do a pre-shoot with you over the weekend, and they can't do the pre-shoots with you at scheduled times because you're either high or withdrawing from drugs. Do you really think that I'm going to know about that and then sit here and talk to you about something that happened when you were 3 days old, and then in grade school and junior high, when I know there's a life-threatening issue that's going on with you?" When Karli doesn't answer, he asks, "Did you get high today?"

[AD]"Yeah," she says, admitting to smoking OxyContin.

"Were you in withdrawal on Saturday?"

"I'm in withdrawal whenever I don't do it," she says.

Karli explains her plan to get clean on her own.


Dr. Phil tells her, "I've been doing this 33 years, been at it longer than you've been alive. I've seen you time, and time and time again. And I'm going to tell you something: You can't stop this on your own. It is unsafe to detox on your own. It is unsafe to try to come off of this stuff like you did over the weekend when you didn't have the drugs. You run out of money, you could get in a lot of trouble. You've has seizures already, right? You [overdosed] already and had to be resuscitated, true?"

Karli says she plans to do an outpatient detox.

[AD]"Your chance of stopping this by going through some outpatient detox and starting therapy, living where you're living, and doing what you're doing, is zero," Dr. Phil tells her. "The only chance that you won't be doing drugs this time next year is if you're dead."

Dr. Phil acknowledges that she does have unresolved issues from her childhood that she will have to work through. That will be part of the rehab process, since she's being abusing drugs to cover up her pain from those issues.

It's time for Sue to speak to her daughter, but Karli won't look at her.

"Why won't you look at your mother?" Dr. Phil asks.

"Because I don't want to cry," she says tearfully.

"At least respect her with looking her in the eye, Karli."

"I know all of this," she says, wiping tears away.

Sue tells her daughter, "When I leave for work in the morning, Karli, I have to check to make sure that you're still breathing. I have to make you talk to me and say goodbye. I don't say goodbye to your brother. I know he's OK. But you know I have to come in, and wake you up and say goodbye to you, because I have to make sure you're still alive. I don't want to live like that anymore."

She consults her notes, which contain a list of facts about Karli's drug history.

See Sue confront her daughter.


Sue continues, "When you came home, you told me that you were very depressed and that you just thought it'd be easier if you check out of life. You thought it'd be easier for Travis and I, but that's not true. I said, ‘What can I do to not make you feel that way?' And you said you owed a drug dealer $150 and that he threatened to hurt you and our family. I told you I would pay the drug dealer off if you promised to go to detox the next day and get medication, and you did. And you started going to meetings, and you were happy " I remember you coming home and telling me you were so happy, and that's when you were going to meetings every night. And then you started using again."

[AD]Sue highlights Karli's most recent drug history, which involved going through withdrawal on Thanksgiving, using Xanax to cope with withdrawal, having friends die from Oxycontin and heroin use, and making her mother buy her drugs to get to the Dr. Phil show.

"I want you to get help and to be sober," Sue tearfully tells her. "And to be the person you can be and live a normal life. You know it feels good. You've had it for a month here and there, and you liked it. I want you to be OK. I want to help save your life. I'm worried you're going to die. I can't live without you, Karli."

Pam, Karli's biological mother, wants the same thing. "I've been through this situation with your dad, with your brother and with you. I don't want to see it happen anymore," she says, wiping away her tears. "I want it over with. I want you to go to school, and do what you want to do and get your life going. But you just keep going through this same cycle of detoxing. That's what you keep telling me; you're detoxing, and you just detox over and over again. You've got to go do something that's going to be over and done with and let it clean you up."

Karli's brother, Travis, speaks to his sister. "I'd like to say that I love you a lot. I care about you. We're all here to get you help. We wouldn't be here right now if we didn't love you, and I want all this to just stop, become a better family and just drop it all."

[AD]Her sister, Rachel, cries and says, "I love you so much, and I just want you to get help."

"Your plan will not work," Dr. Phil tells Karli. "You do what you're going to do, you are going to wind up dead or in jail. You can't do this on your own. You're either going to take yourself out of the game and get serious help, or your life is going to get a whole lot worse in a short period of time."

Dr. Phil offers to send Karli to La Hacienda in Texas. "This is your time. This is your chance. I will bring you a gilt-edge team of professionals to deal with your psychological issues, to deal with your medical issues, to deal with your addiction issues," he says. 

Dr. Phil explains that Brandon has been through exactly what she's going through and is now four years sober.

Brandon reaches out to Karli. Will she accept the help?


Sue hugs her daughter, and the two women cry.

"Tell your mother why you'll take the help," Dr. Phil says.


She cries. "Because I love you, and I don't want you to feel pain anymore. I don't want you to have to worry about me. And I want to have a life. I don't want to just live my day-to-day life just looking for drugs because I can't function without them."

[AD]Dr. Phil puts his hand on Karli's, and she tells him, "Thank you."

"I want to see you back here on a happier day," he says.

"OK. Thank you," she says, and they hug.