Brandon's Family Follow-up: Doug, Debbie and Brandon

Family Rehabilitation
Dr. Phil follows up with Brandon and his family on the dramatic journey from drug addiction to recovery.Dr. Phil asks Brandon's parents, Doug and Debbie, how they feel after hearing all of Brandon's secrets.


"I am blown away by watching that," says Debbie. "Of how many things we missed and how we so trusted and believed in him, and even though we might have seen signs and asked him about it, he would convince us otherwise."


Doug and Debbie have been disagreeing about what should happen next with Brandon, and it's putting a strain on their marriage. Doug is ready for Brandon to get a job and start meeting his financial obligations, and he thinks Debbie is showing signs of enabling Brandon again. Debbie doesn't agree with Doug, and thinks Doug is pushing Brandon too hard.


Doug explains his side of things: "I would suppose the best way to put it is I'm more of a disciplinarian. And I'm looking for the quick results. I knew that this was going to be a lengthy process, but ... I'm waiting for the job. He's got some financial commitments that he needs to step to the plate on, and I think for me the turning point is going to be when I see him step up and recognize he's got obligations to people, and he begins to contribute to those.""And how are you handling your frustration right now?" Dr. Phil asks Doug.


"Well, at family week at the facility, I learned I am an enabling, codependent, detached, angry father ... I guess is the best way to describe it," says Doug.


Dr. Phil asks Doug about his behavior when he gets home after work " that he tends to withdraw into his bedroom. Doug admits it's a behavior he learned over the years to avoid conflict with his son and his wife.


Dr. Phil points out that Doug and Brandon are very similar, but Brandon disagrees. Dr. Phil explains, "Both of you want immediate gratification right now. You want what you want when you want it and it's right now," he says, pointing out that Brandon is frustrated with his slow recovery, feeling like he's wasted three years of his life, and that Doug is frustrated with Brandon's slow recovery too.
To further illustrate his point, Dr. Phil says to Doug: "You want him better right now. You want his brain cleared right now. You want him to step up and start living like a 22-year-old right now, even though he went into a social developmental arrest three years ago, so he's still functioning at a much younger level."


And Dr. Phil says to Brandon: "The most outrageous thing I've ever heard you say is, 'It's been three months since I've quit using and I'm in the same place I was three months ago.' The reason I thought that was such an incredible statement is because I think you have moved mountains in three months. You're getting better every single day, every single week. Your bulb is shining brighter and brighter as you emerge from this drug-induced fog, but you say you've made no progress? You have saved your own life, Brandon. You have saved your own life."

Dr. Phil turns back to Doug, asking about his perception of Brandon. "And don't you think he constantly has a chip on his shoulder and he's pretty angry?" he asks.


"Uhh ... I think we still have some issues we need to work together, yeah," says Doug, avoiding the similarity.


Dr. Phil repeats his question: "And don't you think he constantly has a chip on his shoulder and he's pretty angry?"


"Yes, Dr. Phil," says Doug.


"Well, pot, let me introduce you to the kettle," says Dr. Phil, and Doug and Brandon shake hands, laughing.

Dr. Phil explains to the family that although Brandon was the target patient " the one who needed the most help " the entire family was sick, and the whole family was hurting from this situation. Brandon has now gotten treatment, but the rest of the family has not done nearly as much to cure their problems.


Dr. Phil tells Doug what he needs to work on: "You don't have the right, although you may make a good case for having earned the right, you don't have the right to be angry and withdrawn. If you respond in that way, Doug, you are sabotaging his progress. You don't have the right to come home and be frustrated and pout. If you continue to be angry and withdrawn, you're going to set him up for failure. It'll be his choice and he'll make it, but you will give him a justification for it."
Dr. Phil turns to Debbie: "Now, let's talk about you for a minute. I looked up 'enabler' in the dictionary this morning, it had your picture in there! And aren't you going back to what you know best now? Aren't you doing those very things with him now? You're giving him money, you're making excuses, you're going out and doing things for him. You're not enforcing the rules of the house."


He turns to Brandon, "And you're saying, 'You don't have the right to tell me when I can come and go' " excuse me?! You're living at their house when you go home for the weekends, right? You're there under their roof. You're eating their food, sleeping in their bed. That's not your house, it's theirs. You're 22, you're a guest in their home. Get the chip off your shoulder and follow their rules."


Dr. Phil tells Debbie to be careful not to re-infect Brandon with her enabling, and he tells Doug to not re-alienate Brandon with his anger and judgment. "He needs partners right now," he explains. "Partners that require him to be all that he can be; it's got to be a unified deal."