Two Years of Dr. Phil: A Look Back: Brandon

Life without Drugs
Dr. Phil follows up with Brandon, one year after his life-saving intervention.

After Brandon went through drug rehab and was sober for several months, Dr. Phil rewarded him with a role on CSI: Miami. "It was one of the most awesome experiences I've ever had," says Brandon. "From where I was at a year ago, my life's totally different." Brandon is preparing to move out of his parents' house and has enrolled at a university for the fall. "It's been about six years since I went to school sober," he says, explaining that he's taking Dr. Phil's advice and occupying his free time with things he has a passion for, like acting.

But the road has not been easy. Brandon had a relapse a couple of months ago, and went to jail for three days. "Going to jail showed me that that's not a place I want to be," he says.

Brandon's parents have been helping him make progress. "I knew I had to make changes in order for Brandon to get well," says his mom, Debbie, who is no longer enabling Brandon.

"Our household is much calmer than it was," says his dad, Doug, who has been spending time with Brandon golfing and just enjoying each other.


But there are still concerns. His mom asks, "Dr. Phil, we all know that college life is full of temptations. How do I protect Brandon, but at the same time give him his independence?"

Brandon tells Dr. Phil, "I'm really excited about going and being awake in my classes," he says, admitting that he hasn't been sober in an academic environment since his sophomore year of high school.

Dr. Phil reassures Brandon that he'll have no trouble getting back in the game. That it's not too late. "I was 25 when I graduated from college. There is hope. You can close the gap," says Dr. Phil.

When asked how she is, Brandon's mom is moved to tears. "Compared to where we were a year ago, it feels really, really good to be walking in the skin I'm walking in."

Now sensitive to his mom's feelings, Brandon grabs her hand and admits, "I don't like to see her cry."

Brandon's brother and sister say they're also really proud of how far he's come.
"We really want to set him up for complete success," says his mom. "As a parent, I feel the need to protect him and I'm not sure how to do that, and if that ends now."

"It's not your job," Dr. Phil responds. "He's 22. You didn't make the choices for him to be on drugs to begin with. Under your watchful, vigilant eye, he relapsed after he got sober. It wasn't your choice then and it isn't your choice now. What you can do is love him and care about him and support him and stay in touch with him and let him know that you're behind him and what your expectancies are, but it's [his] choice, it's what [he] does."

Turning to Brandon, Dr. Phil suggests, "It's not willpower. It's about programming yourself for success ... If you program yourself to be around athletics and actors and people who are doing the things that you have a passion for, then that will become your life signature and your life momentum. It's about programming yourself for success and keeping yourself involved. And that'll be a choice you make every day."
"We couldn't let Brandon go off to college without something that I wanted him to take along with him," says Dr. Phil, surprising Brandon with a new iBook computer from Apple. And Dr. Phil will never be far away: The screensaver is a picture of the two of them and an audio message saying, "I'm proud of you. And you can do this!"

Dr. Phil jokes that the computer even has a function to be able to detect if Brandon is slurring his typing. "It'll send a message back to me, and I will absolutely kick your ass," he warns.

Laughing, Brandon and his family thank Dr. Phil.