Boozing with a Baby?
Victoria admits that she often drinks to the point of blacking out but still tells her mother, Shannon, that she doesn’t have an alcohol addiction.
“At 18, Victoria went to the University of Colorado and started partying a lot there,” Shannon explains.
“I started drinking pretty heavily,” Victoria says. “I was missing a lot of classes. I have a pretty high tolerance for alcohol. I can take 15 to 20 shots and still be OK.”
“I don’t know how I could drink a quarter of what she drinks and still be alive,” Shannon observes. She says Victoria has drunk dialed her countless times,admitting that she’s an alcoholic and needs help.
Victoria claims that her drink of choice is vodka because it’s inexpensive. “I can drink a liter of vodka in one night. I’ve had countless blackouts. Recently, I awoke in my dorm bathroom — I don’t remember any part of it.”
Now, after discovering Victoria is pregnant, Shannon says she’d like her to kick her alcohol addiction, but needs her to admit she has a problem.
[AD]Dr. Phil asks Victoria why she decided to appear on the Dr. Phil show. Victoria explains that she only attended the show to prove to her mother that she’s not an alcoholic.
“So, you think your mother is just meddling in your life?” Dr. Phil asks.
“Nagging, actually,” Victoria clarifies.
“Why do you say you don’t have a problem?” Dr. Phil asks Victoria.
“I don’t wake up needing to drink,” she explains, noting that she’s never experienced withdrawals from alcohol addiction. “I can go a few days without drinking. I don’t have problems going to sleep. I don’t have nightmares like some of my friends do from not drinking. So, it’s not an issue.”
Dr. Phil notes that Victoria’s diagnosis of her drinking habits is based solely on her experience with her friends, and not a medical professional. “You can down 10 to 20 shots in two hours, you get off work around 11 or 12 at night, and then you go buy a bottle of vodka to drink. You get blackout drunk when you drink. So, having gone over that history, you drink 300 or so nights out of the year, and let's just say maybe on a quarter of those nights you blackout, and you don’t think you have a problem?”
“No, I can stop whenever I want,” she responds, claiming that she hasn’t drank alcohol for the last four days before appearing on the Dr. Phil show.
Dr. Phil asks board-certified psychiatrist Dr. Reef Karim, director of The Control Center for Addictions, to offer insights on Victoria’s drinking habits and pregnancy. “Why would you think she has a problem with alcoholism?” Dr. Phil asks Dr. Reef.
[AD]“First off, you meet all the criteria,” Dr. Reef tells Victoria. “You’ve developed an incredible tolerance to alcohol for someone your age and disposition. Secondly, there was an inability to cut down on your drinking until recently when you found out you are pregnant.” He explains that drinking during the first trimester of pregnancy could kill Victoria’s baby or permanently damage its brain. “All of this leads to my diagnosis of alcohol dependency,” he says.
“So, this baby could be born with alcohol toxicity?” Dr. Phil asks Dr. Reef.
“Absolutely,” he answers. “There are three ways to kill a baby while drinking alcohol: you can flat-out abort the baby you can keep drinking and eventually you’ll have a spontaneous abortion, or you can have the baby, and it will be born with alcohol syndrome and be mentally retarded. You can also have organ and heart damage with that baby.”
Apart from dire medical conditions, family law attorney Areva Martin adds that Victoria could face legal prosecution should she continue drinking alcohol while pregnant.
[AD]“So, what do you think about what’s being said here?” Dr. Phil asks Victoria.
“I understand exactly what’s being said. I know what I did was wrong, and I don’t want to continue doing that — I don’t plan to. I do want to change. I don’t want to drink. That’s the last thing I want to do while pregnant.”
“You say you want to change yet you started this entire conversation out saying, ‘I don’t have a problem,’” Dr. Phil observes.
“Well, I just got reamed, don’t you think?” Victoria asks. She admits that Areva and Dr. Reef made her reconsider the severity of her drinking problem.
“Yeah, but you know what I wish you would say? I wish you would say, ‘Wow, this is a harsh and uncomfortable wake-up call but it sure put things into focus for me," Dr. Phil says. "If I’m a high-risk candidate, I am willing to subject myself to whatever help and monitoring to ensure that I protect myself and my baby.”
“That’s all I want to do is protect my baby,” Victoria tearfully replies.
“Well, to do that, you’ll have to start treating yourself better,” Dr. Phil instructs. “You’ll have to stop drinking yourself into oblivion four nights a week. That is terribly unhealthy, and if we take away the alcohol that I think you are medicating yourself with, and we don’t put something back in its place, your anxiety and depression is going to come bubbling back up, because I think you are anesthetizing yourself with alcohol. You think you do this to party. I think you do it to numb the pain. I don’t want to punish you. I want to help you.”
[AD]Dr. Phil tells Victoria that once she removes alcohol from her body, she will need some professional help to confront her emotions. “If we are going to take the alcohol away, and you must take the alcohol away, you’ve got to come to grips with whatever is making you rely on alcohol so heavily, and I am prepared to offer you that help. I will get you some help in your community to put in place of the alcohol that you must eliminate from your life. Will you take that help?”
“Yes, I’ll take that help,” Victoria says. Crying, she turns to her mother for a hug.