Shaming the Family Name: Ken, Susie, Tiffany

Enabling Her Self-Destruction
“If you were to see the way we live, you would think our lives were pretty much perfect,” says Ken about his Orange Country, California, family. “From the outside, we look pretty much like the perfect family.”

“Tiffany has had a drug problem with OxyContin for about four-and-a-half years,” says Tiffany’s mother, Susie. “I honestly thought she had beaten the OxyContin addiction.”

“Being a police officer and knowing that my daughter engages in illegal activities, such as using illegal drugs, is very embarrassing,” Ken says. “Tiffany has been to rehab numerous times and unfortunately, each time she’s failed. No parent likes to admit the fact that they have a child who’s addicted to drugs.”

[AD]“Tiffany has a problem that when she’s using the drug, she turns into two different people. She’s like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. She’ll be talking to you fine and then she’ll turn around to somebody else and pretty much just rip their head off,” Susie says. “I’m fed up with Tiffany. We’ve tried everything we can to give her what we can afford to give her. One of my worst fears is coming in and finding Tiffany dead.”
Dr. Phil sits down with Ken and Susie before he meets Tiffany. “I want to be very real about what happens when we’re dealing with somebody with a drug history. It doesn’t happen in isolation,” he says. Dr. Phil makes it clear to Susie and Ken that they are not responsible for her drug use, but says, “When you have a young person with this kind of drug history, they don’t do it in a vacuum; they do it with their family around them, and your reactions have contributed to it, either positively or negatively.”

Dr. Phil asks them to grade their own papers: If they had to do the past few years over again, what would they do differently?

Ken says he’d work harder on keeping his first marriage, to Susie, together, instead of making the choice to leave. Also, he realizes that he’s been enabling Tiffany to continue her drug use by financially supporting her for the past few years.

Dr. Phil explains how they empower their daughter to self-destruct.


Ken says he’s taken on about $40,000 of debt to support Tiffany. Dr. Phil goes over his enabling behaviors: He spent $15,000 on dental school after she left rehab the first time. When she got into a car accident and totaled her car, he bought her a new one. She was going to be prosecuted for writing bad checks, and he bailed her out. He also still pays for her cell phone, car and health insurance, and gives her cash when she asks.

[AD]“You’ve got somebody here who’s on self-destruct, and in order to continue that self-destruction, she needs funding, and y’all make sure she has it,” Dr. Phil tells Ken and Susie. “And I have to tell you, that is no different than if you went and bought it for her and gave it to her.”

Dr. Phil tells them he can’t help their daughter if they continue to enable her.
Tiffany joins her parents and Dr. Phil. She tearfully explains why she wrote him. “I watch your show every day, and I’ve seen you help other families, and I really didn’t know what else to do,” she says. Tiffany says she’s been lying to her parents for the past year and is ashamed of what she’s doing.
 
Tiffany reveals her secret to her parents, and her father reacts.


“Half the time, in the morning, when I go, I just do it to feel normal, like, it’s not fun anymore,” Tiffany explains. “It’s my survival. It’s to function, it’s to feel normal, to be able to go take a shower and to go to work, and to make it through the day without being really, really sick.” She admits that she gave in and left rehab because she just wanted to feel normal again. She didn’t give herself enough time to fully detox off the drugs.

“I’m in shock,” Susie says. “I didn’t know she was still doing this. I thought she was fine.”

Ken explains that Tiffany got a job to pacify them, and she hasn’t been around his house because of her tense relationship with his wife, which is why he didn’t know.

“I was told I was not welcome in your home,” Tiffany says coldly.

“You’re not, when you’re under the influence or using drugs,” Ken says.

Tiffany argues that it was when they thought she was clean that they told her she wasn’t welcome. Ken says it was because of the way she treated his wife, Christi. “You can’t come into our home and talk to Christi like that and expect to have open arms when you come through the door,” he tells her.

[AD]“Here’s the problem,” Tiffany tells Dr. Phil. “They think that we have family issues because of the drugs, just because of the drugs.”

“We do! Because when you’re not under the influence, you’re a pretty, young girl who’s sober, and we never have issues or problems,” Ken says, but Tiffany disagrees.