When John and Maxine brought their son Weston to the show for help with his binge drinking, Dr. Phil strongly urged them to put him in rehab immediately. They decided to check Weston into La Hacienda, much to his dismay.
“I’m not really like a serious alcoholic. It’s not like I’m drinking every day. What’s the detox for?” questions Weston, who didn’t want to spend 45 days at a treatment center during his senior year of high school.
A month after Weston entered La Hacienda, John and Maxine went to visit him. “It seems like I have my son back,” says John. “Now he’s got some hope. He’s got some direction. He does have a future.”
Maxine says, “It’s a very different kind of Weston. He seems so much happier.” But she realizes it will be a long process. “Being 17, the chances of him relapsing are very high.”
Weston reflects: “Looking back at everything that I’ve done, I feel terrible. I just wish I never caused them all the pain that I did.” The outdoor activities with his dad and Maxine made him realize, “I can still have fun without being stoned or being drunk … It feels good.”
After 32 days of sobriety, Weston says he is committed to remaining sober. “Since being in treatment, I’ve realized that I truly was an alcoholic addict,” he admits. “I feel confident that I won’t drink. I believe I won’t have any problem.”
After 45 days at La Hacienda, Weston went home, where there were new rules. “John has stepped up tremendously,” Maxine notes. He has enforced a curfew for Weston and has taken away his car and license.
“These new rules don’t make me stop drinking or doing drugs. They suck,” admits Weston.
Five days after Weston returned home, his biological mother took him to the rodeo, bought him beer, and he received a Minor in Possession ticket. When he got home that night, John and Maxine administered a Breathalyzer test, and it was evident he had a lot more than just one drink. “I was so stunned and shocked,” says John. “I didn’t want to have anything to do with it … How can I discipline him here when the problem happened under somebody else’s watch? … I’m scared to death of how he’s going to behave in college.”
Weston wasn’t concerned about the incident. “The fact that I broke sobriety wasn’t a big deal because I knew that it was going to happen one day,” he explains.
“Weston has missed curfew almost every night and I think there were three times that he has come home under the influence,” Maxine reveals. “I felt that everything we put into the rehab, the counseling, was a waste of time. Everything Dr. Phil did for us was a waste of time. All of us as a family, as a unit, worked together to get to a positive point in life, and Weston just threw it away,” she cries.
Dr. Phil points out that although Weston was reluctant to go to rehab, he made great progress once he immersed himself in the program. But he did get in trouble once he returned home.
Weston explains his recent indiscretion at the rodeo. “I didn’t even think about it. It was a mistake,” he admits. Weston also admits to coming home drunk after curfew, saying it was “only three beers, no big deal.”
“You’re not a bad kid, Dr. Phil tells Weston. “But you have an addiction. And the fact that you don’t recognize that after the treatment that you’ve been exposed to, tells me how powerfully altered your logic and reasoning is in this.”
Weston responds: “The show focuses on drinking and everything, but I had a drug problem more than I had a drinking problem, and I haven’t touched a single drug since I’ve been back.”
“You are doing better, there is no question, and you are making an effort to do better, and I understand that,” Dr. Phil tells him.
John has downplayed whether his son is truly an alcoholic. “That troubles me greatly that you’re underestimating it,” Dr. Phil says. “This isn’t a borderline situation.”
Dr. Phil continues, “You really seem to kind of have a flip attitude about it … I can’t tell whether you just really don’t get it or if you’re just kind of sarcastic in your personality. The family is so important here, John.” Dr. Phil addresses John’s concern about how Weston will handle college. “You can maybe send him up there with five months of sobriety under his belt, where he’s got some momentum. Where he’s beginning to learn that, ‘I can have a good time. I can make the right decision. I can have a girlfriend, friends without drugs, without alcohol.’ And observe himself succeeding month after month so his momentum is flowing with him when he goes there, instead of being out a week later and you saying, ‘We’re going to have a poker game and we’re going to serve beer.”
John explains: “The adults were going to have beer, but of course, the minors were not going to have beer.”
“Your attitude is that La Hacienda told you, ‘Don’t change your life for him?'” Dr. Phil questions John.
“Yes,” John replies.
Weston interrupts. “They don’t need to change their life for me. They got me to the place that I need to be, but that’s for me to carry on and I have to follow that path now.”
“But you haven’t done that with 100 percent efficiency,” Dr. Phil points out.
Rich Whitman, Chief Operating Officer at La Hacienda, clarifies: “Unless the entire family changes, nothing changes.”
Maxine disagrees. “As a parent, when you have toddlers and you have glass things on a shelf, you can teach your child not to touch those things,” she explains.
“Upon what expertise, experience and education do you base that opinion?” Dr. Phil asks her.
“On knowledge of myself,” she replies.
Dr. Phil is in disbelief. “I have the director here of what I believe to be the preeminent rehabilitation program in the country,” he explains. “He’s telling you that you don’t tempt someone in the early stages of recovery. That environmental control is a powerful element to someone in the early stages of recovery.”
Dr. Phil introduces Dr. Frank Lawlis, a psychologist who has worked with La Hacienda and is the chairman of the Dr. Phil advisory board. Dr. Lawlis agrees with what Dr. Phil and Mr. Whitman have said. “The system is what got him into the situation, so you have to change the system,” he explains.
Mr. Whitman also suggests that Weston make new friends. “Since 1972, the treatment center has said, ‘Playmates and playgrounds, they’ve got to change,'” he makes clear.
“You do need to change your friends,” Dr. Phil makes clear. “If your friends drink and drug, then you need to get some new friends. If you go to places where there’s drinking, you need to not go there. You have a disease.” He points out to Maxine and John that if Weston had skin cancer, they wouldn’t take him to the beach. “There has to be a rigid commitment to sobriety at this point, and it takes the family to support that,” he says.
Dr. Phil advises that Maxine should not be the disciplinarian in the household, because they are a blended family. “You can’t discipline Weston. It just doesn’t work,” he explains. The job of disciplining Weston falls to John. “It’s your job to support him in what he does.”
At the end of the show, Dr. Phil addresses Weston, John and Maxine. “On the one hand, I’m so proud of the three of you for the work that you’ve done and the effort that you’ve made,” he tells them. But, just as John doesn’t think his son “gets it,” Dr. Phil doesn’t believe that John gets it either. “There’s something in you where you don’t want to admit that this is a disease. If he had any kind of other disease or infection or cancer, you wouldn’t be in denial about that. You would make radical changes. You say, ‘I don’t want to change my life.’ I’d rent a storage locker if I had to. I’d get everything I could that’s alcoholic out of the house. I know how much you love him and I want you to see it with clarity.”