CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Interview with Betty Ford
Aired March 14, 2002 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: ...exclusive. Former first lady, Betty Ford. She told the truth about her own drinking and drug abuse and inspired countless others to come clean too. And with her, the president and CEO of the Betty Ford Center, John Schwarzlose. Experts that could help you save someone you love, Betty Ford, a true American heroine, next on LARRY KING LIVE.
One quick program note. Next Tuesday night we'll have a live interview with Mariane Pearl, the widow of Daniel Pearl, the "Wall Street Journal" reporter killed overseas. Mariane Pearl will be our special guest on Tuesday night.
We welcome Betty Ford and John Schwarzlose to these cameras and microphones. Always god see them. You won't believe this, but Betty Ford Center is going to be 20 years old in October.
BETTY FORD, FOUNDER, BETTY FORD CENTER: Going to be celebrating 20 years -- whoops.
KING: Does it seem like yesterday or forever?
B. FORD: No, it seems like yesterday. I remember well all of the preparations for that. And driving by with my husband and saying, I can hardly wait until this is done so I'll be through. Well, it was just the beginning.
KING: John, you were hired right from the get-go.
JOHN SCHWARZLOSE, BETTY FORD CENTER: I was hired by Mrs. Ford to help put the program together.
KING: What were you doing before that?
SCHWARZLOSE: Running a treatment center for alcoholics and addicts back in the Midwest.
KING: And you stayed all these 20 years and still stay, right?
KING: You are not going anywhere.
SCHWARZLOSE: That's right.
KING: Betty, first, for an update, how is your husband? How is the Ford family?
B. FORD: He's just great. He's swimming twice a day, playing golf and...
KING: Put us through a scare, you know, in Philadelphia.
B. FORD: Oh, yes I remember very much so.
KING: I remember being at the hospital.
B. FORD: But he's doing very well. He has no residue effects from it.
KING: So nothing from the stroke remains?
B. FORD: No.
KING: How old is he now?
B. FORD: Well, he's 88, going on 89, which is pretty amazing.
KING: Still active. Plays golf every...
B. FORD: Oh, very active. And he looks great.
KING: You don't look bad yourself either, Betty. What do you make of all of this, and this is for both of you. Start with you, Betty, of the whole drinking situation. We'll start with drinking and get to drugs. Why do people get sloshed?
B. FORD: Well, I think -- I don't think people start out to get sloshed, except maybe the college students today who really drink to that excess. Most people drink to be congenial, to celebrate, to have a good time. Sometimes they drink because they are depressed.
KING: Is it an addiction, John?
KING: It's definitely an addiction?
SCHWARZLOSE: The science that we know now after the last 15 years of research, undoubtedly says this is a disease of the brain, and it is a disease once you've become addicted.
KING: And do we know why he is alcoholic and she is not.
B. FORD: Well, you -- there can be any number of reasons. I wouldn't say at the beginning they probably have any difference physically in the makeup. But once the drinking or the use of a mood- altering drug starts, there is a change, a definite change in the one that is the addicted person.
KING: But some people can have one or two drinks and that's it and they don't bother them. Some people have one or two and it sets off a pattern, right? B. FORD: That's true.
KING: Do we believe that is inherited?
B. FORD: In some cases there is a predisposition to an inherited gene from parents or grandparents, but it doesn't have to be that.
KING: So you see it in all cases?
B. FORD: No.
KING: I mean you see it in both the addicted and the non- addicted?
B. FORD: Yes.
KING: Should you worry if you are a teenager and your mother or father are alcoholic, John?
SCHWARZLOSE: What we say up front to that teenager is, data tells us that you have a three or four times greater chance of developing alcoholism yourself because it's in your family. Now, whether or not a teenager will take that seriously is another thing.
KING: Why is there so much, Betty, denial? How long were you in denial?
B. FORD: I was probably in denial for years and didn't realize it because my drinking had not surfaced to that point. And even when it did surface, there was a strong denial to the effect, you know, I didn't drink any differently than anyone else. But it affected me differently.
KING: But didn't you know it was affecting you?
B. FORD: No. I had no idea until my family confronted me with the intervention.
KING: Why is there denial, John? That's what it is?
SCHWARZLOSE: It's the very nature of the disease. Part of it is the anesthetizing affects of alcohol. Alcohol helps us not look at reality, so the more we drink we are not looking at what's going on. Part of it is the fear that goes with alcoholism. The last thing I want is anyone around me to bring up my drinking. Nor do I want to talk about it. So denial just brings me more and more into a shell so I don't have to deal with it at all.
KING: That's also true of other addictions?
B. FORD: Very definitely. Addiction is pretty much an addiction whether it's smoking or...
B. FORD: Very definitely. KING: So you had a family confrontation, it was described on this show eloquently one night by your husband. They all gathered around your bed?
B. FORD: No, not my bed. I was up.
KING: Where were you?
B. FORD: We were all in the living room.
KING: And did you know it was coming? Did you -- what happened?
B. FORD: No, I was really surprised. I thought -- I wasn't real well in conjunction within my addiction. But when they all arrived, I thought how nice of them to all come from all parts of the country because they loved me so much and they were so worried about me, but when I saw the fact that it was another subject they wanted to address I wasn't that happy.
KING: Did you react hostilely at first?
B. FORD: I can say I did react hostilely originally when Susan tried address the problem on her own. And I told her that she should mind her own business. And it wasn't until the whole family got together and were organized in this intervention.
KING: Was it shocking to you that they all had a knowledge?
B. FORD: It was very shocking to me what they were telling me because I had no idea that that was affecting them that way. I always had the feeling, you know, well, it's me. It's me that might be affected, but not anyone else.
KING: Is that a common way to handle this, John?
SCHWARZLOSE: It is.
SCHWARZLOSE: They go on every day all over the country and all over the world and most of them, Larry, are very successful.
SCHWARZLOSE: Because it's really a tough love. It's I love you so much that I'm going to force you to look at what's going on, and I want you to get help for the problem now because of the way it's affecting us.
KING: We'll find out what Betty Ford did and talk about the Betty Ford Center. The guests are with us for the full hour. As we go to break, here's husband Jerry talking about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE FORD: We were scared that we'd lost our mom and we sat down as a family. I think mom just celebrated her 18th birthday of sobriety. We sat down as a family and we are going to do this intervention that no one had ever heard of at that time. It took a family effort holding each other's hand to get through it. But it was her strength that did it in the end.
KING: Did it bring the marriage closer, Mr. President?
GERALD FORD, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No question about it, Larry. It had been a serious problem within the family, but as Steve has said, on that Saturday morning when we had the intervention, all of the children were there, and I think Mike's wife, Gail, was there. We sat down and just -- serious conversation about tough love. We told Betty that we loved her and we were going to help her and the net result was she believed us and as Steve said she's had 18 years of wonderful sobriety.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We are back. All right, Betty, how did confrontation work for you? Why did it work?
B. FORD: I think it worked because they told me they loved me so much, and they wanted to help me. It was hard for me to admit that anything was wrong. But they pointed out so many things where I had disappointed them.
KING: Did that surprise you?
B. FORD: Yes, very much so.
KING: What's, then, the first thing you did?
B. FORD: Well, the first thing I did was figure out where I might get some help, and we had a big family discussion about that.
KING: Where did you go?
B. FORD: I ended up going to the Long Beach Naval program, over at the Long Beach Naval Hospital.
KING: And that worked?
B. FORD: I was there for four weeks and I haven't had anything since.
KING: Is that program still in existence?
B. FORD: No. Unfortunately, they discontinued it.
B. FORD: The hospital is gone. They did away with the hospital.
KING: How did you get the idea for the Betty Ford center? I mean, usually most people lick a disease, they beat it. They're happy the day they did it.
B. FORD: Well, that was what I thought. I'd go back to my normal life and do all the things that I did before, but just not drink. And I found it was quite different because a lot of people -- I had gone public and a lot of people were writing me, calling me, wiring me, saying, you know, I need help. How did you do it? Well, I found myself answering some of them. And there were bags and bags and bags of mail. And I got interested in realizing how many people there were out there who really needed help.
KING: Why did you go public?
B. FORD: I guess that's just my way. I'm very candid and very open.
KING: Did you ask the family or did you just do it?
B. FORD: They knew I was going to do it, and it was OK with them.
KING: How did you do it? What did you do, call a press conference? What did you do?
B. FORD: We had a press conference at the hospital when I signed in. And the public was very aware because it was on the news as the limo drove in to the Long Beach hospital.
KING: Is that smart, John, to come out, so to speak?
SCHWARZLOSE: We actually, now, and Mrs. Ford agrees with this policy, we actually recommend people don't have a press conference.
KING: You mean famous people?
SCHWARZLOSE: Yes. We'll say, you know, have the conference a year after treatment and announce that you are now in recovery and how this has changed your life. But just to announce that you're in treatment, we don't think that's appropriate.
KING: What about non-famous people? Should they tell everyone in their family, tell friends?
SCHWARZLOSE: Well, we suggest their loved ones, their family and their close loved ones, absolutely. Well tell them, in fact, get them involved.
KING: Were you alcoholic?
KING: How long...
B. FORD: Larry, I want to say one thing. One of the reasons I made the point of announcing that was because I had had breast cancer not long before that. And we were still kind of an item as far as the press was concerned. And I didn't want them to think that I was trying to hide a reoccurrence of the cancer. KING: So you continued to drink during your breast cancer problems?
B. FORD: No. I don't think so. Not at that time.
KING: But, of course, you made your big announcement after everyone knew you had breast cancer, right?
B. FORD: Oh, it had been quite a few years, yes.
KING: The concept from -- the idea of the Betty Ford Center to its opening, how long did it take?
B. FORD: Well, that was in '78, and we opened our doors in '82. But it took time to raise the money and build the buildings and get the staff.
KING: And what made it special, aside from its wonderful name, John?
SCHWARZLOSE: Well, I really think that people looked up so much that Mrs. Ford had the courage to face this illness and do something about it. And that's the reason, for example, that 50 percent of the patients at the center have been women, which was unheard of in addiction. And it's...
KING: Before, was the most addicts were men?
SCHWARZLOSE: In treatment centers, you often saw three or four men to every one woman.
KING: So the women came because it was Betty Ford?
B. FORD: I think it was also because Leonard Firestone, ambassador Leonard Firestone was the co-founder. And between the two of us, we were able to get the message out there that it didn't matter who you were, it's possible you could be alcoholic. And it just carried well as far as the press was concerned.
KING: Is the problem as great among women as it is among men?
SCHWARZLOSE: It is, Larry. And in fact, among the young today, there's just as much heavy drinking and alcohol abuse among young women as their is young men.
KING: Indeed. Joe Calofano's (ph) group, Casa de National (ph) Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University issued a report about teen tippler's, America's underage drinking epidemic. The report says more than 5 million high-schoolers say they binge drink at least once a week, with young teen girls matching young boys drink for drink.
Why are they doing this? Do we know? B. FORD: If we knew, perhaps we would be able to do more about it. I can't tell you, I think there's a lot of things wrong in this world right now, and that's one of the major ones. Perhaps it is because of the role model they see in the theater, on television, and maybe even within their family.
KING: Now, when they come to Betty Ford, do you get a whole history? Do you talk to them about their drinking, how much they drink? I'm talking about drinking now.
SCHWARZLOSE: We actually get a lot of that before they even come because we get so many calls a month into the center that we try to make sure that the person is appropriate for our center. So a lot of the history prior and then when they come in, even a more complete history.
KING: How many people can it hold?
SCHWARZLOSE: We, in a given day, a couple hundred are inpatient, you know, staying there. And then another hundred plus in day treatment or outpatient treatment.
KING: What's the difference? A day patient treatment works because they have to go back into the society the same night?
SCHWARZLOSE: Well, for example, some people come for day treatment and they stay three or four months, but they're living at night with others in that program, and then during the day they're involved in treatment all day as opposed to living on the hospital campus.
KING: And you're active, right?
B. FORD: I try to be very active.
KING: What goes on all day?
B. FORD: They have a very structured program. That's important because they are there to get well. And we don't encourage them to bring novels or exercise equipment or any of that. They have enough to reverse or turn around in their life without any other distractions. So it's a busy day. It starts at 6:00 in the morning. And we keep them occupied. We are not only group therapy, but nutrition and the whole...
KING: Do we know the success ratio, John?
SCHWARZLOSE: Well, you know, we know today better than ever because we now keep a -- schedule telephone calls for one year after they leave.
KING: What's the percentage of those?
SCHWARZLOSE: So we are still seeing about two-thirds of the people that go through really do very well. And we are not giving up on that other third, but... KING: Do you study the other third?
SCHWARZLOSE: Oh, absolutely. And these phone calls, this thing called focused continuing care, we are learning even before some of the people get into trouble.
KING: As we go to break, Elizabeth Taylor talks about her problem.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, JANUARY 2001)
KING: Did you go to Betty Ford?
ELIZABETH TAYLOR, ACTRESS: Yes. Twice. Twice.
KING: Is that a good place?
TAYLOR: Yes. Oh, yes.
KING: It worked?
TAYLOR: Yes, it did. It took me twice to go back to Betty Ford. The first time just didn't work. It -- I thought I was strong enough and that I could socially drink. Then it became a bottle of wine at lunch, a bottle of wine at dinner.
KING: A bottle?
KING: Do you, therefore, not drink at all now?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Betty, do we know -- among addictions, alcohol, drugs cigarettes, gambling, where alcohol rates in difficulty of cure? If cure is the right word?
B. FORD: I would say that alcohol is as hard as any of those others, but I've been told that smoking is the most difficult.
KING: Because you don't fall down sloshed, and you don't lose your job.
B. FORD: That's right. And certainly, food is very difficult, because you have to have a certain amount of food, but you don't need cigarettes and you don't need alcohol.
KING: So foodaholic, that would be difficult, since they are eating every day.
B. FORD: John has a better idea on this, I'm sure. SCHWARZLOSE: No, I think once you are addicted, you're addicted. But some of the drugs, for example, the opiates, heroin, are easier to get addicted to quicker. But once you are addicted, you're addicted, no matter what it's to.
KING: Now, how do you get out of denial, Betty? How does denial end?
B. FORD: You have to become honest about yourself and with yourself. And unfortunately, there are those that are never able to do that. And...
KING: So they go through life denying?
B. FORD: Yeah. And they're the losers.
KING: So how -- can you teach them? Well, if they are at Betty Ford, they've already come forward.
SCHWARZLOSE: Well, a lot of them come because a spouse or boss told them to go.
KING: Oh, really? So they feel like they are forced to go.
SCHWARZLOSE: And the way we to get through the denial is through the process of the group, is when you're sitting with eight or nine other men and women that are going through the same thing you are. That's the way to break through that denial.
KING: Is that the way AA works, too? Do you like AA?
B. FORD: AA is a fine program, there's no question about it. And we encourage our patients to do AA. We really do.
KING: How expensive is it, John?
SCHWARZLOSE: Twenty-four to 30 days is the in-patient normal stay, and it's about $14,000. Outpatient for about six weeks is about $3,000.
KING: That's not for the average guy.
SCHWARZLOSE: Well, it really is, because what we do is offer assistance to them. Close to 15 percent of the people at any time are getting assistance from us, and that's why Mrs. Ford leads our fund- raising efforts, actually.
KING: Oh, people who can't afford it, you help?
B. FORD: We help to a point. We cannot totally help them.
KING: What about insurance?
B. FORD: Insurance is not very good these days, as you know.
KING: HMOs are not excited about paying Betty Ford? B. FORD: No way.
KING: So that's your least...
SCHWARZLOSE: Insurance pays a portion for a good number of people, but it's not -- it's certainly -- if we look at 20 years ago, Larry, it paid a lot more than it does today.
KING: Really? Do some companies send their people?
SCHWARZLOSE: Yes, they do. Yes, they do. The entertainment industry is very good, and what's great about them is they send the assistant cameraman as much as they do a director or producer. They really have a very positive program.
KING: Are you always full?
B. FORD: We always have a waiting list.
B. FORD: Yes. It's very seldom we don't.
KING: And it's tough to be on a waiting list, isn't it, John?
SCHWARZLOSE: It is, but what we do is help the person, because we know -- we don't want them just sitting out there waiting. And so we get them in as quickly as possible.
KING: Are you looking to expand?
B. FORD: We are in the process of adding a building, and it's rather a large building for -- because we have expanded, for a new dining room and kitchen, as well as the children's program, which has expanded considerably.
KING: So children being what age?
B. FORD: This is the youngsters from, say, 6 or 7 to 12.
KING: Wait a minute, 7-year-old alcoholics?
B. FORD: No, no, no. They are the ones who are living in an alcoholic...
KING: Children of parents? And they live in that environment?
B. FORD: They live in that environment, and they need help because they don't understand their parents. They think the parents are mean and hateful and don't love them. And we have to let them know that the parents do love them, but they're sick.
KING: Who is the youngest patient you've ever had? I mean, what age?
SCHWARZLOSE: Our license is 18 and older. So I've had some 18- year-olds.
KING: You have to be 18? Is it anonymous?
SCHWARZLOSE: Very much so. We work very hard to protect the confidentiality of every patient.
KING: There are no family visits?
SCHWARZLOSE: Yes, Sunday afternoons. And then family members come for a full week of family treatment, because we really are trying to rebuild that family.
KING: Are alcoholics and drug addicts put in a mix or are they separated, Betty?
B. FORD: Well, they are in the mix, because they are all trying to recover from an addiction. But we do have -- we have specialized programs for each group. Each individual that comes in is individually evaluated by a team of clinicians who know what their certain weaknesses are and where they need help.
SCHWARZLOSE: Just today, a patient stopped me at the center and said, "I was fine. I was an athlete, I was very active, and I had major knee surgery and I got addicted to the pain medication. I want to talk to some other patients here who have had a similar situation," and we provide that for people.
KING: You have a lot of people who are addicted to legal drugs?
KING: Prescription drugs?
KING: Painkillers mostly?
SCHWARZLOSE: And the big one today of course is Oxycontin.
KING: Tell me about that.
SCHWARZLOSE: ... which is a narcotic -- it's a narcotic that is -- people can't do enough to get their hands on.
KING: But it's prescribed, right?
SCHWARZLOSE: It's prescribed.
KING: For severe pain?
SCHWARZLOSE: But it's also on the black market. People want to get a hold of it anyway they can.
KING: Is it harder for a person to get rid of it when it's a legalized prescription drug? B. FORD: I would say so, and it's my own experience, because when you are addicted to a pain medication, you continue to have the pain. And you have to certainly address that pain in another way, which would be massage or heat therapy in a totally out -- you know, outside, rather than putting anything inside your body.
KING: Stopping is the hardest thing?
SCHWARZLOSE: It is. You know, this -- staying sober and clean is hard, and it's hard to stay that way. And that's why you need the help of others to do it.
KING: What are you -- I know you had some criticism of the drug czar, did you not?
B. FORD: Well, we probably are always somewhat unhappy with the way the government...
KING: Do you know John Walters?
B. FORD: I don't know him personally, no. But I mean, as far as the government -- we feel the government spends too much money on interdiction and not enough on treatment and education.
SCHWARZLOSE: We've been campaigning, led by Mrs. Ford, to get at least a 50/50 split. So as much goes to treatment and prevention as does the law enforcement side. And unfortunately, we are not any closer to getting to that 50/50.
B. FORD: The thing is, if people don't learn how to live without the drugs, there's always going to be the demand.
KING: Yeah. And the demand -- well, everyone of these drug users are willing victims, right? Nobody is running out of a liquor store pushing a bottle on someone, right? So they're going out to buy it?
SCHWARZLOSE: Drug use, as you say, Larry, is voluntary behavior. Alcohol use. It's just that a certain percentage are going to get addicted to it.
KING: Did you ever think of legalizing?
B. FORD: Yes, and I think we would just be a lot worse in this country if drugs were legal.
KING: We'll take a break and come back. We'll be including your phone calls for Betty Ford and John Schwarzlose.
Tomorrow night, Mike Wallace is here. He has obtained an interview with Dr. John Nash. The man that Russell Crowe portrays in a "Beautiful Mind." That's going to air on "60 Minutes" Sunday. Mike is going to tell us about it tomorrow night.
And We'll have an Academy Award preview coming up Saturday night on "LARRY KING WEEKEND," and don't forget Tuesday night, Mariane Pearl, the widow of Daniel Pearl will be with us live and we'll take phone calls.
As we go to break, before your phone calls, here's President Clinton talking about alcoholism.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Betty Ford is a heroine to me, because my family has been victimized by alcoholism, and I know what it's like to seek good, fine people stare into the abyss of their own personal despair. I will be forever grateful for the Betty Ford Clinic, and for the millions of other people whose lives have literally been turned around, and often saved.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
G. FORD: It's an honor for me to introduce to you my loving wife, Betty Ford.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: At the convention, right? The convention of '76, in San Diego?
B. FORD: Yes. No, it was --
KING: In San Diego -- '96.
B. FORD: Yes.
KING: Our guests are Betty Ford, the former first lady and John Schwarzlose, the president and CEO of the Betty Ford Center. That center is now celebrating, this October, its 20th anniversary. We are going to include your phone calls. Palm Springs, California, hello.
CALLER: Hello, Mrs. Ford?
B. FORD: Yes.
CALLER: Yes, hi, my name is David. I live in Palm Springs. I relapsed after 21 years of sobriety, and I've been calling your clinic daily talking to Tonya, and, Betty -- Lynn, I mean, and trying to get in there on some sort of a financial scholarship. Is there anything you can do for me?
KING: How long have you been back drinking, sir?
CALLER: Pardon me?
KING: How long? You said you stopped for 21 years. How long have you been drinking when you started again?
CALLER: About three weeks. KING: Just three weeks.
CALLER: And it's the worst thing in the world.
KING: So even 21 years there's no guarantee, right? John, what can we do?
SCHWARZLOSE: Well, we have a financial assistance program, both in the outpatient and in-patient programs, and so I hope that we've explained this to this gentlemen. Because he sounds like a reasonable candidate for that.
B. FORD: Hopefully if he can't get into in-patient, the out- patient program would be able to help him. We hope you get help.
KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) stop for 21 years and start again?
B. FORD: No.
KING: Not shocked?
B. FORD: No. This is a chronic disease.
KING: You don't cure it?
B. FORD: You do not cure it. I always say it's alcoholism, not alcohol-wasm.
KING: Brazil, Indiana, hello.
CALLER: Hi. Mrs. Ford, I have a question for you. First of all, my husband is an alcoholic and he's had two DUIs and been through the day classes. And it doesn't seem to help him. He also delivers beer for a living, so he's got it all the way around. But what is your selection for candidates for your clinic, and do you ever turn anybody away?
B. FORD: We certainly try not to turn anyone away. But it's a matter of if you are on a financial assistance program, it's a matter of when we can get that person in. You cannot apply for him. He will have to apply himself. Because it really doesn't help for you to call about it. The man, your husband, needs to make the call, and ask for help.
KING: OK. What's the process, John? Someone's watching this program. What do they do? Call? What do they do?
SCHWARZLOSE: We have an 800 toll free number.
KING: What is it?
SCHWARZLOSE: 800-854-9211. We have people answering the phones 24 hours a day there. And make the call. First call usually comes from a loved one. And then as Mrs. Ford explains, then we need to talk to the prospective patient.
KING: And the process begins?
SCHWARZLOSE: We start to take a history. We start to determine if that person is appropriate for treatment. What level of treatment, and then we try to match them to the right program. And the problem is, we get about 12, 13, 14,000 calls a month. So we also, if you are having to wait too long, we are going to get you into a program so --
KING: Near their home?
SCHWARZLOSE: Near their home or some place, because we want them to get help.
KING: So you are in touch...
B. FORD: We often ask them to go to A.A. To try to get their life back on track, that would help before they even came in.
KING: So you're in touch with other programs, as well? It's kind of like a link?
KING: They call you, too?
SCHWARZLOSE: Yes, although because of our volume of calls it's much more us trying to find places we think offer first-rate treatment and getting people hooked up with those places.
KING: Is there a kind of addict that's toughest to cure, Betty?
B. FORD: You'll have to ask John that. Because I think the professional is the toughest.
SCHWARZLOSE: Yes. I think -- the way to answer that question is when we get referrals from people, a good example is airline pilots. Airlines pilots referred by the FAA, because their life's become impaired by drugs or alcohol. The rate of success with that population is the highest I've ever seen, Larry. Reason? They sign an agreement that they can be tested for drugs the rest of their lives -- 24 hours a day, without notice. And if they ever test positive they'll never fly a plane again. So the line has been drawn in the sand. They know the consequences. And those men and women do incredible. So the reverse of that, people that seem to have the most difficult time is when there's no consequences.
KING: But you do frighten us when you tell us that airline pilots are alcoholics.
SCHWARZLOSE: But you'd rather have a pilot who is in recovery, believe me. Because they are --
KING: Absolutely. But if they are alcoholics are there ever any danger that they're flying?
SCHWARZLOSE: Well, it's such a serious thing, crews they fly with, airlines themselves really take it so serious, so they police it very well.
KING: We'll take a break and come back. And as we go to break, Mary Tyler Moore on the subject.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: How were you able to defeat alcohol?
MARY TYLER MOORE, ACTRESS: I went to the Betty Ford Center, and there are many such organizations now that can help people who are anethesitizing (ph) themselves. I think that's the closest I can explain what it was like for me. Life was too painful to deal with. And I felt that everybody else could deal with it all right, but I couldn't. There was something missing in me. So I was covering it with alcohol.
KING: And it worked for you?
MOORE: Yes. It worked for so long and then it stopped working. And then I knew I had a problem and I couldn't stop.
KING: So you would fall off the wagon?
MOORE: Yes. Yes.
KING: Did Betty Ford finally work?
MOORE: Yes, it did.
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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, JULY 2001)
ANN RICHARDS, FORMER TEXAS GOVERNOR: In my case, I think I had such high expectations of myself. I was going to be the best mother, the best housewife, the best entertainer, the best nurse. You know, whatever it was, I was going to be the best. And I never could live up to my own expectations.
So if I drank, it repressed all of those feelings of inadequacy. And I thought I was cuter and funnier and smarter. But here's the difference, Larry, is that there are some people that can drink and really have a good time and enjoy themselves, and after a couple of drinks, they stop. But with those of us who are addicted, there was no stopping.
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KING: Former governor of Texas, Ann Richards. She's right, isn't she? You were nodding. B. FORD: That is true.
KING: Very typical. Before we get back to some calls. First, where were you on 9/11?
B. FORD: Actually, we were in Beaver Creek at our home up in Colorado.
KING: You were up?
B. FORD: Yes. My husband had gone out to swim and came back from the pool and, normally we don't have television on in the morning, only in the evening when we are watching Larry King. But I -- the television was on, and I heard all this noise and racket. And I quick turned -- I was upstairs and I quick turned the television on to see what happened? And I couldn't figure out where it was. I knew this was a terrible tragedy, but I didn't know where it was.
KING: What did the president say?
B. FORD: Oh, he was just totally stunned by the whole affect. He couldn't believe that this could happen in our country.
KING: Where were you, John?
SCHWARZLOSE: I was at the center.
KING: What affect did it have on patients?
SCHWARZLOSE: It had a big effect. We had some employees of some of the airlines there. We had New Yorkers there. And what those folks discovered was they couldn't have been at a better place, a healing place, but it was very tough for them. They wanted -- you know, the first impulse was to go back home right away. But they realized the best thing was to stay and get well.
KING: Do you think it's had a lasting effect after that, the whole 9/11 thing, Betty? A lot of people who are addicted.
B. FORD: Very definitely. Well, I think it's had the effect on all people. And I hear people talking about it that are recovering people that I see often. And wondering whether we are going to have anything else that you know, is going to hit us. I believe that it makes us grateful that we are not suffering from our addiction when this happens because we realize more what's going on.
KING: Vail, Colorado. Hello.
CALLER: Hello, Mrs. Ford. I would like to say thank you for our honesty and your courage. I think you've single-handedly changed the way society looks at this disease.
B. FORD: Thank you.
CALLER: My question is would you recommend Al-Anon and Alateen for friends and loved ones of the alcoholic? B. FORD: Very definitely. Those are the places that they can be with other people who are going through the same experience. And it is very helpful for them and it's helpful to the youngsters, too.
KING: So Al-Anon works? So support groups of any kind work?
B. FORD: Alateen and there's even an Alatot, I believe.
KING: I asked about professions. What about type of addiction that may be harder, John? Like is cocaine harder than liquor?
SCHWARZLOSE: No, it really isn't. Sometimes there's some difficulty with -- back to the legal prescribed drugs because it's hard to imagine that I'm addicted to something that I got from my drug store and from a doctor. But in the end, drug addiction is drug addiction. Some of that is psychological that has to be overcome.
KING: What keeps you going? I mean, you know, you see a lot of failure. I mean, you're successful...
B. FORD: Well, there's failure in every disease. I mean, not everybody makes it. And there's a certain percentage in addiction and treatment that certain percentage they don't make. But that's understandable. And, as I said, some people can't get honest with themselves.
KING: Do you feel a daily sense of accomplishment, John?
SCHWARZLOSE: I think I do, and I know the rest of the staff do. We feel like we are there assisting men and women to get their lives back. So it's a great feeling of hope that we have every day.
B. FORD: You can't help but talk to somebody as they come in and you see how really sick they are and how needy they are. And, you know, several weeks later, they are grateful for their life. They are happy. They are understanding, and it's just a wonderful experience.
KING: Hopewell, Virginia. Hello.
CALLER: Hi. I wanted to know what role does depression play with drug and alcohol?
KING: Good question. Betty, both of you. Betty?
SCHWARZLOSE: Well, we -- depression is often accompanies addiction, although it -- there is a lot of debate about whether it causes it and what -- does alcoholism cause depression or depression cause alcoholism?
We look at addiction as the primary illness for most people and then help them begin to focus on depression. Some people need antidepressants. But the process of getting well, the process of getting with others in 12-step programs also can help people with depression. We get people into psychotherapy. But it's not unusual to have addiction and depression. You have to deal with both problems. KING: You agree?
B. FORD: Yes, I think that's very true.
KING: Did you have depression?
B. FORD: No. Fortunately, I don't. I sometimes felt I did when we were raising four children. But that was a different kind.
KING: You're not kidding. We'll be back with our remaining moments with Betty Ford and John Schwarzlose. The Betty Ford Center will celebrate its 20th anniversary this October. Don't go away.
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LYNDA CARTER, ACTRESS: I didn't like what was happening to me, and I think as you get older, and particularly for women, as I later found out, that it's not uncommon for women, as they get older, for alcohol to affect them more drastically as they get older.
KING: Betty Ford, Kitty Dukakis?
KING: The more (UNINTELLIGIBLE), the older they got.
CARTER: And I think in the public, you know, in the spotlight like they were, it was really so secretive and underground. And for me, it just sort of turned around one day, and it wasn't healthy for me. It wasn't right, and I -- I wanted to find out what was going on.
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KING: How long were you hooked, for want of a better term?
DENNIS QUAID, KICKING COCAINE: Let's see, it was a gradual thing. But I -- you know, it just -- it got to the point where I -- you know, I couldn't have any fun unless I had it. It's a bad place to be. And then so...
KING: How long?
QUAID: Fourteen years now.
KING: You've been...
QUAID: Yeah, I've been free.
KING: Sober, they say?
KING: How did you stop?
QUAID: I just had one of those white light experiences, I guess. I just -- because I tried to stop many times before, you know, and usually would wind up, you know, the next day going, oh, God, just get me through this one, I'll never do it again, I swear. And then about 4:00 the next afternoon, you say to yourself, that wasn't so bad, you know. Just somebody around and a look in their eye. But I -- I just saw myself being dead in about five years if I didn't stop.
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KING: Boy. Florenpark, New Jersey for Betty Ford and John Schwarzlose. Hello.
CALLER: Hello. Hi, Mrs. Ford, I need to ask you this question. I have a life-long friend whom I've discovered is an alcoholic. How do I go about approaching her to get help?
KING: Good question.
B. FORD: Well, hopefully you have some other friends and she has other friends that you know, and rather than you doing it on your own, would be good if you could get some of those other friends to sit down with you and with her. John, don't you think?
SCHWARZLOSE: I agree. I agree. And also, calling a center like ours, we'll give you the name of intervention counselors who can walk you through the process. Even if it's just you and a couple of other friends, they can help you every step of the way in how to approach this.
KING: Isn't it the hardest thing to say to someone? You are an alcoholic, you are a drug addict.
B. FORD: Of course it is. This is true. And even doctors have such difficulty when they suspect it of their patients. And, you know, they are afraid the patient will walk out and go to somebody else. And...
KING: Do doctors know enough about this?
SCHWARZLOSE: They don't at all. We've had over 1,000 medical student who have gone through a real special training program we set up where they actually experienced treatment. But most of them tell us, Larry, that they have little or nothing in medical school on this subject. And it's very sad to hear that, time after time.
KING: Why not?
B. FORD: They have so many of these new things coming out, they claim, in medical school that there's just so much other -- addiction is a minor subject to them.
KING: Think folks will ever see a magic pill?
SCHWARZLOSE: No. There might be medications to deal with craving, to deal with other issues involved with addiction, but the issue of dealing, what it means to be an addict, an alcoholic, and how I'm going to live the rest of my life in recovery isn't going to be handled with a pill. We look at the 50,000 men and women who have gone through our center, and a pill isn't going to help them get their life back. It's getting with other people. It's accepting my illness and accepting what I have to do each day to stay clean and sober.
B. FORD: I think just waking up in the morning and being clean and sober and saying I have another day clean and sober. When people start out, all they ask for is 24 hours to, you know, stay away from that drink or that drug. And then you put one 24 hours together with another one and another one, and eventually you get kind of proud of it.
KING: Any difference racially? Are there more blacks than whites? More whites than?
SCHWARZLOSE: Not really. We see all kinds of religions, races, ethnic groups. One of the interesting things you see is people who come from religious beliefs where alcohol is a sin or alcohol is forbidden have that to overcome, too when they come in.
KING: Thank you both very much. It's always good to see you looking so well, Betty. And thanks, John.
B. FORD: Thank you.
KING: And again, the phone number, if you want information on the Betty Ford Center, 24 hours a day, it's 1-800-854-9221, 1-800-854- 9221. Tomorrow night, Mike Wallace will be with us. And Saturday night on LARRY KING WEEKEND, a special preview of the Academy Awards. And don't forget, next Tuesday night, Mariane Pearl, the widow of Daniel Pearl.
Aaron Brown and "NEWSNIGHT" is next. I'm Larry King. See you tomorrow. Good night.
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