Facing Their Addiction
"It's just unbelievable and so sad," Sarah says. "It's such a sick, sad part of myself."
After that show taped, the very next day, Sarah called The Oprah Show producers and said she was ready to check into a 30-day treatment center.
"The disease is such a lie," Sarah says. "It convinces you that you're fooling everybody, and it lies to you and tells you that you are. It's such a baffling disease that rips who you are right out of you. I didn't know it was a disease, and I didn't know how to separate that from 'Sarah.' I thought that I was just the scum of the earth. I was the loser. Now I know the disease is what's so awful, ugly and terrible. Once I could separate that and could start to heal, the wonderful Sarah and the recovering me could come out."
"Sarah, welcome back," Dave says. "We love you, and we love the honesty you're bringing to us."
"I think one of the things that Sarah really highlights for us, is that so many women use alcohol in isolation," Sharon says. "They keep it a secret, and we see that kind of '50s stereotype where women were drinking their sherry alone while cleaning the house. But it's still very much a part of our culture today. I think women still have a tremendous stigma around being addicted that is not associated with men."
Denise's lies caught up to her one fateful afternoon. Although she had already drank five beers, Denise decided to drive her five-year-old son to the pediatrician. On her way home—drunk, tired and distracted by her son, who wanted a present for being brave at the doctor's—Denise crashed. A total of 15 people were involved in the accident, including a city bus. Still in denial that she was even buzzed, Denise argued with the police officers. In the end, Denise failed a field sobriety test and was arrested in front of her sobbing son. "Being handcuffed in front of my son is disgraceful," says Denise. "I was supposed to protect him and there was no one, at the time, protecting him."
"I definitely would accept the apology," says Jacob. "But, if something would have happened to my son, I don't know how I would have felt. I can't imagine how people have felt who have lost people, or lost loved ones in accidents like that."
Five days after the accident, Denise admitted herself into an intensive outreach program to stop drinking. "To know that I inflicted pain on people is the worst thing that I have ever done in my whole entire life," says Denise. "I live it and remember it every day. And it helps me remain sober."
Since then, Lillian has had a change of heart. "Not going on the show and not wanting that tape to be aired, that was one of the lowest points. I had to really face that demon. Check myself to say, 'Do you have a problem?'"
Lillian says that with the support of her husband—who has been in alcoholism recovery for more than 20 years—she made a conscious decision to stop drinking. "I think, for me, what works for me is just being honest and opening up with my close circle of family and friends and just admitting that this was an issue or problem that I had. I am facing it. Dealing with it. Proud of myself. You know, I'm no longer ashamed and that's a huge thing to recognize."
"I worry you're overconfident," Debra tells Lillian. "I'd like to see some healthy fear and that you reach out. One of the things that's going to happen is you will be so dependent on your husband for your recovery you won't own your own recovery."
Recovery is difficult and Debra says its common for recovering alcoholics to relapse when they're feeling most in control. "You need more support. I would love you to go to a women's AA meeting. Meet some recovering women, women you can call. It's not going to get you when you're feeling really low. It sneaks in when you're feeling really good."