"This thing snuck up on us with Sam, and I say â€˜snuck up on us' because I've been watching for it, and somehow I missed it," says Sam's father, Tim, on videotape. His voice breaking, he struggles to compose himself. "I don't know how, because I'm actively involved with my family, actively involved with my son. We do so much together all the time."
"I pulled away from Sam a little bit, and I felt a little less of that love, and that joy, and that pride that I'd always felt," says the teen's mother, Maureen.
[AD] Tim describes how he felt when he discovered that his son made the leap from "smoking" candy and snorting powdered drink mix to purchasing marijuana behind their local movie theater. "I said things I've never said before. I did things I've never done before. I grabbed him and said, â€˜You think you're a real man now,'" he recalls.
"I need perspective. I need direction. I need to see the other side of this, because I'm caught in the middle of it," Maureen says.
"Dr. Phil, I need help. I want my son back," Tim says through tears.
Dr. Phil praises Tim and Maureen for sharing their son's story and for allowing themselves to be a teaching tool for other parents. "Because you're willing to talk about this " millions of parents are watching this right now " be proud of that. Don't be ashamed of it," he says. "Things are coming at these kids so fast."
"We have five daughters and one son. We don't go as parents with our heads in the sand. I have an older brother who died of alcoholism just a few years ago, an older sister who was a drug addict and died just a few years ago as well when she was 59," Tim explains. "It's something we've been actively involved with as parents, to make sure this stuff does not enter our home."
[AD]"If we were having a show on model parents, you guys could be right here in these chairs," Dr. Phil observes. "You have been attentive, you have been plugged in, you have been involved, you have been engaged in every aspect of your son's life."
Dr. Phil notes that Sam admits to snorting powdered drink mix as if it were cocaine. "When I found out, I felt like a failure, to be honest with you," Tim says.
"You can't write yourself off as a failure. There's no window you go to to quit as parents. You can't under-react to this, but you don't want to overreact to it," Dr. Phil says.
Turning to Maureen, Dr. Phil shares part of a poem that she wrote, but never gave, to Sam. "â€˜To the son I had. To watch you die has been my life's greatest heartbreak. You stepped into darkness when all you had known was light. You are no longer innocent in evil nor wise in goodness. You cannot undo what has been done, and now instead of pride, I cast my eyes down and dream of the son that is gone,'" he reads. He turns to Maureen. "That's not OK."
"I know," she says.
"You said, â€˜To watch you die â€¦ I cast my eyes down and dream of the son that is gone.' What does that mean? Where are you in your relationship with him?"
[AD]"I wrote that not even 24 hours after everything came to light," Maureen explains. "He went on an eighth grade school trip to Washington, D.C., so he was gone for five days, which was a good thing, because it gave us time to kind of grieve this out and get a little bit of perspective and kind of calm down."
Dr. Phil reveals that both he and his wife, Robin, are the offspring of alcoholic fathers. "Oftentimes children of alcoholics have children who are alcoholics, not for any reason other than the fact that these parents didn't sensitize them to the fact that, â€˜You may be predisposed to it.' We have told our children that in our family tree, we have that alcoholism gene. It's there," he says. "You guys haven't sensitized [Sam] to this enough. He needs to know that he's predisposed."