How to Stay Sober: Robin, Rigo

About to Lose Everything

"I had everything: A beautiful wife, great kids, a fantastic job, and now it's gone," Rigo says. "I don't think I could sink lower than I already have."

Rigo met his wife, Robin, at work. She was a dispatcher. He was a police officer.

"In the beginning, our marriage was happy, fun, peaceful, rewarding," Robin says. "It started out very, very good. Our lives changed when Rigo started taking pain pills for a lower back problem that he had. I could never have predicted that a small little pill could take away so much."

"I herniated a disk in my back, so I was prescribed pain medication," Rigo says. "At the height of my addiction, I was taking 40 to 70 tablets a day, 1,500 to 2,000 pills a month."

Robin did what she could to help her husband. "We made an agreement that I could monitor his pills," she says. She shows the cabinet where they kept the drugs. "There was, like, up to 400 pills. In a week, over half of it was gone already. It was terrifying to me. Since rehab, he has relapsed four or five times. We agreed that I would be in charge of the pills that they prescribed him. We went to a box with a lock and a key."

"Because of my addiction, eventually I lost my job," Rigo says. "Being a police officer meant everything to me."  

[AD]Robin stands in their closet, among her husband's police uniforms and personal affects. "This is where Rigo's career has ended up. Rigo received a medal of valor and within two months, he had to resign," she says.

 

Robin asked Rigo to move out, and he checked himself into a detox center. Now, he says he's seven weeks clean. "The separation is very difficult. I miss my family," he says. 

"Rigo always smelled good," Robin says. "That was one thing I was always attracted to, so I've come in here and smelled his clothes, and it reminds me of him. It hurts, because, you know, I shouldn't be smelling just clothes. I want a person with them."

Dr. Phil speaks with Robin alone first. "You are at your wits' end," he says.

"Yeah," she says.

"Tell me what you're thinking and feeling about this. He's seven weeks clean right now, as far as you know. So, where are you in all of this?" Dr. Phil asks.

"I've come to a point where I feel like this is the end of the rope, so to speak, where I have to make some really critical choices for myself and my two children, as to whether I can go on living this type of life," she says.

"Right now, given what he's doing, and given what he's not doing, I think he is a very high risk for relapse," Dr. Phil tells Robin. "I think the chance that he's going to come through this doing what he's now doing, handling this the way he's handling it, you reacting the way you're reacting " I think the chance of him getting through this OK is very, very low. Now, that's the bad news. The good news is there are a lot of things you could be doing, that he could be doing, that aren't being done right now, which add up to a really good chance of managing this successfully. I guarantee you, for seven weeks, he's been white-knuckled. He's just holding on because he doesn't want to lose anything. But that won't last long term. This isn't about willpower. It's about scientific, active, psychological and medical management. And that's not happening right now, is it?"

[AD]"Well, we're separated right now, so I don't see everything that he's doing. I do know that he's reaching out for some outpatient care," she says.

"A rational response would be, ‘OK, buddy, if there are some verbs you can put in our sentences, if there are things he needs to be doing that he's not doing, that he should've been doing all along, I want to know what they are so we can do them. I want our family to have a chance.' That's what I would expect to hear if you were thinking clearly at this point," Dr. Phil says, "but you've kind of lost your compass, haven't you?"

"Yes," she admits.

Rigo joins the conversation. "You haven't taken anything at all for seven weeks. How are you managing?" Dr. Phil asks him.

"It's been a real struggle because cravings are still there, temptations are still there, and I'm too new in my recovery for temptation not to be a realistic thing," Rigo says.

"What do you think the impact has been on your wife?"

"I think it's drained her completely. It's more than she ever asked for or ever deserved," he says.

Dr. Phil shares with Rigo his opinion that he is a high risk for relapse. "The good news is there are some things that you aren't doing that you can do that you can really get your hands around and turn this thing around," he tells him. "You're close to losing everything."

"I've lost everything, and I could potentially lose more, and that's the worst part of the whole thing. I've lost a lot, and I still have a lot to lose," Rigo says.

Dr. Phil addresses Robin. "Tell me what you're really thinking right now."

"I want to end the cycle," she says, struggling to hold back her tears. "I'm tired. It's become normal in my home, and it's not normal. I just want this to end so we can move on and maybe look back and say, ‘We made it. We beat it.'"

"Do you love this man?" Dr. Phil asks.

"Yes, I do," she says.

[AD]"Are you willing to become part of the solution, if he's willing to do anything he can do to turn this around? Or are you done?" he asks. "Let's just be honest. If you're just done, if you don't have anything left to gamble, if you can't take another heartbreak, you can't take another relapse, another problem, then you need to say so."

Robin turns to her husband. "I can't take another relapse. I'm sorry," she says tearfully. "You need to stick to it this time, please."

"Are you willing to help him make a run at this?" Dr. Phil asks.

"Yes. I want to support him in a healthy way, the way that I need to," she says.

"And you realize that means taking care of yourself. Do you think you're depressed?" Dr. Phil asks.

"Yeah, I think I've had bouts of it," she says.

"And your health has started to erode. You've returned to some bad habits you haven't been messing with since high school. So, this is unraveling for you," he says. 

"It has, yes."

Dr. Phil reminds Robin that she has to take care of herself in order to take care of their two children.