Wasted Youth: Stephanie returns

Not Yet Ready

After checking out of rehab, Stephanie discovered that she wasn't ready for the real world yet and relapsed several times. She contacted Joani, asking for help yet again. Joani is a former Dr. Phil guest and recovering addict who brought her to see Dr. Phil the first time 


"I really so desperately want to be clean and sober. Unfortunately, I relapsed today," Stephanie tells Joani, who documents her story on video. "I desperately want my life back, and it's not as easy as I'd hoped it to be."

Stephanie speaks to someone on the phone, arranging a meeting to get drugs.

[AD]"I wish I could be a functioning drug addict, and then everything would be fine," she says, on her way to get her fix.

After shooting up, Stephanie tells Joani she feels better. "It blows my mind that I would do this, after all the rehab that I've been through, and now I come home and bam, the first thing I do is get high. Doesn't make sense."

Later, she says, "I'm having a midlife crisis at the age of 24. I want so badly to succeed … I believed I was made to be a songwriter. I'm made to do something big. I'm just here. I'm stuck here, at 24 years old, still feeling like I'm 17. I don't want to be a drug addict anymore."

In 2005, Joani was a mother, a nurse and an addict, and then she met Dr. Phil. One year later, Joani was sober and helping fellow addicts, her way of paying it forward. She's brought many addicts to Dr. Phil's attention by documenting their lives and bringing them to the show where they can get help. Joani joins the show with Stephanie and her grandmother, Juanita.

Dr. Phil asks Juanita what she thinks about the video piece she just saw about her granddaughter.

"It horrifies me," she says. "I knew that it was going on, but I'd never seen it. Just to see my granddaughter do that to herself, it's just horrifying and overwhelming as a grandmother."

[AD]"What was most shocking to you about what you saw?"

"That she would actually take this and shoot it into her little veins, killing herself, because that's what ultimately it leads to," Juanita says. "And that's why I'm here. I'm so fearful that she's going to lose her precious life."

"Is she right to be afraid?" Dr. Phil asks Stephanie.

"Yes. I feel so badly knowing how much I hurt her and the rest of my family with my disease of addiction," Stephanie says. "To have gotten the help that I did, and still go back out and use drugs is beyond me, but that's just how powerful it is."

Stephanie was living with Juanita but was kicked out because of her drug use. Cameras capture one of their confrontations:

"People who have never been drug addicts or alcoholics don't understand what I'm going through!" Stephanie yells.

"If you came to me and told me that you were having cravings for this drug " " Juanita begins.

"Of course I crave heroin!"

"I didn't know that," Juanita says. "I just thought she was doing so much better. I had no idea she was craving drugs. I don't understand that."

"It just makes me upset that you don't understand. There's no way for you to understand," Stephanie says.

Back onstage, Dr. Phil tells Stephanie, "One of the things I hate about rehab is the rehab speak. It's like the Chatty Cathy. You go through, and you get certain buzz words and crutch phrases, and you use those. There's a difference between someone who really gets it, and somebody who just mouths the language, the symbol system. And the truth is, you are just arrogant enough to believe that you were the one who was smart enough, strong enough to get out and do this on your own, right?"

"You're absolutely right," she says.

"What are you trying to escape from? Why is it something you decided on your own, after going through everything you went through, having the chance that you had? Why did you justify doing it? Even if you thought you could," Dr. Phil says.

[AD]Stephanie speaks through her tears. "I feel like it's fear. I'm afraid of life. I'm afraid of failure. I'm afraid of success. I see how far I've sunk into this addiction and sometimes I actually believe that that's the only life that I can be comfortable in because I'm so miserable without drugs. I'm so uncomfortable in my own skin."

"Isn't what you said is you don't really want to quit drugs; you want to be a functioning addict?" Dr. Phil asks.

"I just wish there was a way I could be happy," she says. "Yeah, if there was a way to use drugs and be connected to God at the same time, it would be every drug addict's dream, but it's just not reality."

Dr. Phil asks Juanita, "Why'd you kick her out?"

"I love this girl with all my heart. There isn't anything I wouldn't do for her, but I told her when she came back, 'I don't want you here. I can't stand the drugs. I can't stand the drinking. I can't stand staying up all night, worrying about whether you're dead or alive, or if someone killed you, and I'd find you in a ditch somewhere,'" Juanita explains tearfully. "And then I found out she was doing the heroin again, and I have another granddaughter living with me also, and I told her, 'You can't do drugs and live here. I can't put myself through that misery, and neither can I put your sister at risk. People can get killed dealing in drugs, and I'm not having that in my house.'"

 

He tells Stephanie, "I don't believe what you say; I just look at what you do. And what I see you doing is disrespecting this woman, who has opened her home to you, and getting up on your hind legs, and barking to her about your rights and your privileges, and that you're an adult. If you're an adult, then act like an adult, OK? You don't have the right to disrespect this woman. You are a sucky taker. You are a taker, taker, taker. You take, take, take, and you don't give anything back, except a bunch of talk, and talk is cheap. You cannot be a functioning addict. You cannot do this. You cannot use drugs. There's no way; there's no such thing."

[AD]Stephanie's tears spill over her eyes.

Dr. Phil continues. "You had your chance, and you blew it. Why should you get another chance?"

"I see where I've gone wrong," she says tearfully, "and I know, like you said, it's not an easy 28-day, you know ... Sometimes it takes time."

"Look, I am not naïve about this. I've been doing this for over 30 years. I understand that drug addiction is a complex disease. It is resistant to treatment. It is subject to relapse," Dr. Phil tells her. "What I'm concerned about is that you still don't get it. When you're telling me 24 hours before you come on this stage that you want to be a functioning addict, you don't get it.

[AD]"You can't play around with this stuff," Dr. Phil tells her. He tells his viewers, "This crap about 'All the kids are doing it, it's just what happens, it's just what kids do' is wrong, wrong, wrong. It is a death trap, and it can ruin their lives, and it can end their lives."