"I drink to hang out with my friends and to be more outgoing," says Weston, a senior in high school. "I just drink out of boredom. My parents have no clue of how much I drink or how much I can drink. The objective is to get drunk, but after you're drunk, your goal is to get wasted and you lose that self-control."
Last summer Weston was arrested for driving drunk at 80 miles per hour. After swerving through the neighborhood, he was eventually arrested in front of his house for reckless driving, evading arrest and DUI. "The whole family was watching Weston get arrested," says John, Weston's dad. "I waited five days before we
Weston admits that it was a rude awakening. "I was so drunk that I don't remember getting into the cop car. When I woke up I was in jail," he explains. But a month after getting out of jail, he started drinking again.
Maxine and John have tried to help Weston by using the 12-step program, grounding him, and they even bought a personal Breathalyzer. But they feel helpless. "I can give him a test at 12 at night and he tests positive, and what do you do?" John comments. "You yell at him and he goes to bed and tomorrow's another day."
"Weston doesn't respect me," Maxine explains, so John is the disciplinarian. "I get angry and resentful toward my husband. I don't believe John disciplines Weston enough after he drinks. There are no consequences."
"If my parents catch me drinking, I still get away with it," Weston agrees. Last month he drank a 12-pack of beer and fell asleep at the wheel. He wrecked his car, got a DWI and spent the night in jail. "It really scares me that I can't
Maxine is at her wit's end. "At this point, I'm throwing my hands up."
John worries about Weston's future. "I'm very concerned about what's going to happen next year when he goes off to college where there won't be a mom and dad to watch over him," he says.
When John and Maxine say they've done all they can, Dr. Phil argues, "I would chain the boy to the bed before I would let him go out and drive drunk ... I'd rather have my son in jail, where he's safe and I know he's not killing himself or somebody else, than I would out drunk driving!"
Dr. Phil addresses Weston. "What in the hell gives you the right to go out against the law, drink, get in a 5,000-pound automobile, and drive on the streets where my children are walking up and down?" he
"Nothing gives me the right to do that, but at that point in time, that's not crossing my mind," he admits.
"You're correct. You don't have the right to do that," Dr. Phil tells him, pointing out that it's illegal to drink at 17. "Your brain isn't even through growing yet. You don't have the ability to predict the consequences of your actions. You don't know what your life will be if you run over my child or some mother of three on the way to the store and you kill her and her children grow up without a mother. And you will hate yourself if and when that happens."
He turns to John and Maxine. "Your job, as parents, is to make certain that doesn't happen."
Dr. Phil shows images of Weston's room with beer cans lying all over the place. "Your son is in possession of an illegal substance in your home, and you're just dusting over it," he says.
"No, actually I usually take the beer, or whatever alcohol, and I do dump it out," Maxine says.
"I would dump it in his bed and let him sleep in it if he wants to bring it into my home," Dr. Phil retorts. He reads off Weston's indictments: a ticket in ninth grade for minor in possession, caught in the backseat of a car with a keg in his lap, four to five ounces of marijuana in his closet, a party in the backyard that was busted by police, charged with minor in possession again, arrested for reckless driving and running a red light at 1:30 a.m. and had a Breathalyzer installed in the car that he failed six times in one month. "What is this boy doing with access to a motor vehicle?" Dr. Phil asks in disbelief.
"Well he doesn't have it anymore," John replies.
"This kid is an alcoholic. He cannot think for himself, he cannot make decisions for himself, and therefore he's relying on you. And if you won't make the hard calls, if you won't make the hard decision, then he is going to kill himself or somebody else," Dr. Phil warns.
"You have to step up John. I don't want him at 25 serving 20 years for vehicular manslaughter, looking at you on visitation day saying, 'Why didn't you jerk a knot in my tail and make me do right?'" Dr. Phil stresses.
"I understand what you're saying," John says, justifying that many of Weston's friends, who come from good families, have also been arrested. John and other concerned parents formed a group to help their children, but that didn't get any results either.
"When you do the Breathalyzer when he comes home at night and he fails it, you call the other parents and let them know?" Dr. Phil asks.
"No," John replies.
"They went off and did a Scared Straight type thing. He didn't want to participate, so we didn't do anything else with the group," Maxine explains. "He didn't feel it was necessary. He thought it was ridiculous."
Weston explains that his group of friends may drink, but other kids are using drugs like acid and ecstasy.
"That is the most ridiculous load of crap I have ever heard," Dr. Phil retorts. "You're telling me that this is the least of the evils."
Dr. Phil explains that he has an 18-year-old son who is a senior in high school and doesn't drink. "I know what's going on with him. I show up where I'm not supposed to be when I'm not supposed to be there. He makes eye contact with his mother and I every night when he comes home no matter what time it is. We make
Dr. Phil addresses John and Maxine. "I'm going to give you the bottom line. You need to take this boy out of the game. He is not capable of functioning in the free operant society," he warns. "He needs to go into an inpatient alcohol rehabilitation program of the highest order. He needs that to have the chance to save his life. You need to do that before the sun sets on you again." Dr. Phil says that if John is willing to do this, he will call La Hacienda Treatment Center and make the arrangements, and the show will pay for it. "Because if you don't, he's going to jail or worse."
"I'll drive him there myself," John replies.
"Are you willing to do this?" Dr. Phil asks Weston. He nods yes.
"Let's do it together," John says, shaking Dr. Phil's hand.