Easier Than You Think: Robert

A Mother's Pain

"Robert's always been somebody who's pushed the envelope. He was always into sports. He used to do BMX dirt jumping," says Robin. But things have taken a drastic turn. "He doesn't know how to live as anything other than a drug addict."


"When I first started using Vicodin, I was probably 14. I'm addicted to OxyContin. If I have it, I use it. I can't go for a day without it," says Robert. "My relationship with my mom is absolutely destroyed from this drug. I lied, and lied and lied about everything. I wake up thinking about what I'm going to do to get high."


Robert gets some of the drugs from an unlikely source. "I ended up meeting this gentleman. He was 80, 82 years old. He had a lot of back problems, so he got whatever he wanted from the doctors. It was just really weird to see someone who's 82 years old selling, basically, heroin pills," he says. He also goes doctor shopping. "I would go to different doctors and get different amounts of pills, and this doctor knows that people sell them. That's why I think he charges so much money."


[AD]"He's always got a scam. ‘Can you front me the money?' No. It never comes back," Scott says. 


"I had no money one time, so I knew that if I were to deposit a $300 check into the ATM, I could instantly take out $300. It's shady, but I had to do what I had to do," Robert recalls.


Robin admits that she and Scott enable Robert by allowing him to live in their house and buying food and clothes for him. "He doesn't pay for anything," she shares. Wiping away tears, she says, "I hate what he's done to the family. I just want my son back. I want Robert back."

Camera's placed in Scott and Robin's home capture the tense family relationship.

"You're basically putting us in our grave. You're killing us," Scott says to his son.


"Do you know how hard it is to watch you live like this?" Robin asks Robert.


"No. I guess I don't," he replies.  

"I hope you never do. I hope you never, ever have to watch a child go through this," Robin says.

[AD]"I try to stay clean for a little bit, and all I think about is wanting to get high or wanting to use," Robert tells his parents. 

"This has been going on for frickin' years. Somewhere along the line, it's going to come to an end, and you're going to end up dead. You've already been to jail," Scott says.

"I don't even worry about that. I'm going to have nowhere to live. I'm going to be on the streets," Robert says.

"You're worried about nowhere to live, and I'm worrying about burying my son! That's where you're going to live is in the frickin' ground," Robin says with a raised voice.

"How did we get here?" Dr. Phil asks Scott and Robin.

"The back surgeries is what got the prescription drugs going," Robin says.

"A lot of people go through back surgery, a lot of people get pain medications, and they don't wind up stealing from their parents, and lying, and cheating and being addicted to drugs," Dr. Phil says. He asks Robert when he started doing drugs.

Robert says it was before the surgery. He went to rave parties at 15 and 16 and took ecstasy, acid and ketamine.

Scott and Robin say they knew Robert took ecstasy, but were unaware of the other drugs.

Dr. Phil assures the couple that he wants to help them but he needs their help as well. "One of the things you've got to do is become present in the situation. You're son is fighting for his life," he says. "Your kid is 14, 15 years old and he's doing ecstasy. To me, that makes the short list of problems."


Dr. Phil asks Robert why he agreed to participate in the show.

"I just need to stop," he says.

[AD]Robert gets the pills by going to the doctor, using his insurance and paying a co-pay to obtain a prescription. He has been able to get over 1,000 pills in a few months and uses most of them for himself. He says he's not high while sitting on stage but is starting to feel some withdrawal symptoms, like shakiness, aches and cramps.

"What do you think is going to happen to you if you continue what you're doing?" Dr. Phil asks Robert.

"I know it can kill me," he says. "I'm not really thinking about that. All I'm thinking about is my next high, and how I'm going to get my next high."

In an emotional exchange, Robin and Scott share their true feelings with Robert, and Dr. Phil has strong words for the family.


Dr. Phil tells the parents they are in over their heads, and Robert cannot quit cold turkey, or he could die or face serious complications. He says to Robert that he believes he mentally wants to quit the drugs, but in his heart he doesn't want to. "What you want to do is be alone with your drugs," he says.

"He doesn't know how to be anything other than an addict," Robin says.


Dr. Phil addresses Scott and Robin. "When I see people doing what y'all have been doing, it's a very selfish thing. You're doing it to make you feel better in the moment. You're doing it because you think you're saving him from getting beat up or you're keeping him out of a problem, and it makes you feel better that you've kept him safe for one more day," he says.

"Yes, because I know where he is," Robin says.

"But is it good for him?" Dr. Phil asks. "If you had drawn this line in the sand 10 years ago, who knows where he'd be right now?" He points out that Robert was a good kid, but once he started hanging out with the wrong crowd, he became part of the wrong crowd.

Robert explains that he started taking drugs recreationally, but little by little he ended up taking harder drugs.

[AD]Scott admits that he gave Robert money to buy fake urine so he could get a job, thinking that if his son got a job, things would get better. Robert tells his dad he didn't buy the urine but used the money to buy drugs.

"You've got to stop kidding yourself," Dr. Phil tells Scott and Robin. "This is a disease. It is complex. It is physiological. He cannot stop without medical supervision and monitoring. It is a complex disease. It is resistant to treatment. It's subject to relapse. This may not be a success-only journey, but you've got to take that first step."  

Dr. Phil tells Robert that he has made arrangements to send him to Casa Palmera, a treatment center in Southern California that specializes in treating chronic pain, addiction, trauma and eating disorders. He tells Robin and Scott that they must change their behavior as well. "He didn't get this way by himself. He won't get out of this by himself. This is something that affects the whole family. It infects the whole family, and you've got to be involved, because if you don't do change what you do, and he changes what he does, then you'll go right back to where you started," he says.

[AD]Dr. Phil faces Robert and says, "This is a system that you cannot beat, so you either need to say, ‘No. I'm not going to do it,' or you need to surrender to the process. There's no turning back."

Robert agrees to go into treatment.


Preparing for a Structured Intervention 

If someone you love is in jeopardy due to an addiction to drugs or alcohol, do not believe the myth that he/she must "hit bottom" first, in order to be helped. Keep the following points in mind when you are ready to confront the chemically-dependent person.