A Family Intervention
“My life has definitely spiraled out of control. I’m on oxycodone every single day — drugs control me,” Krista says. “I’ve used OxyContin, heroin, ecstasy, marijuana and cocaine.”
Before becoming addicted to drugs, Krista’s mother, Barbara, says her daughter was an honor roll student on her way to college. “I was 16 years old when I graduated high school,” Krista explains. “I was in National Honors Society. I had a really good family. Everything was going for me until this happened.”
Her brother, Stephan, says after Krista's boyfriend died in a car accident, she used his death as an excuse to abuse drugs. “She hasn’t dealt with it since it happened,” he explains.
“After he died, I asked my friend for drugs,” Krista says. “I wanted to be out of my mind all the time. I wanted to keep myself in that comatose state.”
Now, the 25-year-old admits that her addiction has spiraled out of control and that she’ll do anything to get her next fix. “When I bought drugs, I was willing to take them from someone at a gas station. I’ve had a gun pulled on me. I’ve waited in a parking lot for hours,” she explains.
[AD]“Krista’s done a lot of things to get drugs,” her dad, Ron, adds. “She’s stolen money from us. She’s taken my iPod.” He says she even swiped her mother’s ATM card and robbed Stephan’s fiancée.
“It’s like some demon is in there controlling her. It’s a heartbreaking thing,” Barbara laments.
“I just want my little girl back in the worst way,” Ron says through tears. “[I pray] to God, 'Take me. Take me instead. Let her live.'”
Dr. Phil asks Krista, “You kind of watched a little summary of your life on tape there. What’s your reaction that?”
“I think it’s out of control. It’s crazy,” Krista says. “It’s not who I am. It’s not who I was raised to be.”
“Well, you are what you do, so it is who you are,” Dr. Phil contests.
“It’s who I am now I think, but it’s not who I want to be or who I’m capable of being,” Krista explains.
“You say your [parents] enable her, how?” Dr. Phil asks Stephan.
“Because she always has a place to go, no matter what,” Stephan explains.
While he claims that his parents support Krista’s addiction, he says after she robbed his fiancée, he kicked Krista out of his home and refused to give her money. “I took her belongings and put them in my side yard; I changed the locks on my door,” he elaborates. “This is after she robbed me to get drugs, and I’m like, 'How many times does this have to happen?' It’s getting to the point where I’m not just losing my sister, I’m losing my parents now. I don’t want that, and they’re killing each other. My parents are going to let my sister kill herself with the drugs. My sister is taking my parents from me, and I just assume to not talk to any of them. And I’ll stand by that [decision] until the day I die — I don’t need that in my life.”
Stephan reveals that Krista stole cash from him — which he claims she still denies — and a ring that belonged to his fiancée’s father. He says it was the only piece of jewelry that she had from him.
[AD]“You stole an heirloom that meant a lot to his fiancée. What did you get for it?” Dr. Phil asks Krista.
“Like a hundred dollars or something,” she says.
“So, something that meant everything to [his fiancée] and her life, you sold for $100. What did you use the money for?”
“Drugs,” she responds.
Dr. Phil quizzes Ron and Barbara about whether they enable their daughter. Barbara acknowledges that she has supported Krista’s addiction in the past, but hasn’t given her money for at least a year.
“Initially, when she first started doing drugs, we really weren’t aware,” Ron says. “[We thought] the bank statements were wrong, or they weren’t paying her enough at work. There was always an excuse.” Barbara says she also sympathized with Krista after her boyfriend died, but as her addiction worsened, she realized her life was in danger.
Krista confides that her daily quests for drugs have become a “full-time job” and she doesn’t care about her own life. “I know I can’t stop it by myself. I hate asking my family for help, and I know I’ve ripped them apart enough,” she says.
Dr. Phil asks Duff McKagan, former bassist from Guns N’ Roses, to weigh in on Krista's situation from the audience. “Is there a lonelier feeling than that, Duff?” he asks.
Dr. Phil turns to Barbara. “What happens if your phone rings, and you get that call that says, ‘Sorry, I regret to inform you but your daughter has overdosed, and she’s dead?’” he asks.
“That’s when I’m dead too, and I [feel that way] now, Krista,” Barbara says. “When my phone rings, and your sister’s name comes up, I feel relieved. I know it’s going to be, 'Happy Monday, Mom. I love you.' But no offense, when I see your name come up, I’m kind of sick. My stomach gets nauseated. [I think], what is she going to need? What’s ticked her off this time? What’s made her angry? What’s not right in her life? Because it’s always miserable. It’s always misery when you call. I love you more than life, but you’ve just about cleaned me dry.”
[AD]Dr. Phil asks Stephan if he misses his sister when she’s away from home, but he confides that when she became addicted to drugs, he viewed Krista as a different person. “You’ve got a disease for the rest of your life, and you’ve got to deal with it,” Stephan tells Krista. “And the way you’re dealing with it, the rest of your life won’t be much longer.”
“If I offer you help, are you going to take it?” Dr. Phil asks Krista.
“Yes,” she replies.
“Because you have to understand something about me offering you help versus someone else offering you help. When I say help, I mean you change your life. You change your world,” Dr. Phil insists. “If you don’t want to do it, don’t do it. Let someone else have the seat because there are a lot of people that want to be in this chair right now.”
Krista says she’ll accept Dr. Phil’s help, but he admits that he doesn’t believe she’s ready to change. “Look, don’t do me any favors because I don’t believe you. I don’t believe you’ve crossed that threshold at this point,” he says.
Dr. Phil reveals that he contacted Christian O’ Donnell from Caron Treatment Centers to discuss a rehabilitation program for Krista, but says he refuses to waste resources on someone who's ungrateful. "[Christian] is here for that reason, but I've got to tell you, I’m not buying it,” Dr. Phil tells Krista. “I think you’ve got an attitude, I think you’ve got a sense of entitlement.”
“I don’t know what you want me to say. I’m really thankful for [your offer],” Krista says. “I know I need treatment. I know I need help. I know I have a lot to do with my family. I’m obviously very nervous sitting right here. I would love to give my mom and dad a hug. I haven’t seen them since I’ve been here, and I feel terrible for what I’ve done.”
Crying, Krista embraces her parents. Dr. Phil says that he’ll allow Krista and Christian to meet backstage to make a decision about her treatment. Addressing Barbara and Ron, he adds, “If the decision is to take a chance on her, then I can tell you that you two have as much work to do as she does while she’s away. Whether it’s her choice to do drugs or not, you’re either [AD]going to be part of the problem or part of the solution — and right now, you’re part of both. You are part of the solution in that you love her, you care about her, and you’re devoted to her. But you’re part of the problem too because you’re getting controlled with emotional extortion … Let’s have a sit-down backstage and we’ll make a decision because in today’s world, I’m not about wasting resources, so we'll see [what happens]."
Nodding, both parents agree.