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Hooked: When You Can't Stop

Aired March 15, 2007 - 20:00   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everybody. Thanks so much for joining us.
Tonight: a special hour that could save your life. We're bringing out in the open a crisis that can cause my Headline Prime colleague Glenn Beck to react like this.


ZAHN: What is it you regret the most?

GLENN BECK, HOST, "GLENN BECK": The way I treated people.

ZAHN: How badly did you treat people?

BECK: I fired a guy for bringing me the wrong pen one time.


ZAHN: It is a crisis that can also do this to you or to your family.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't do it. Don't do it.


ZAHN: We are calling this special hour "Hooked: When You Can't Stop."

We are bringing America's growing addiction to drugs and alcohol out in the open together with our sister network HBO, which starts a series on the subject tonight.

It seems to be the perfect time, because a brand-new and frightening study just came out today. Get this. The study says about one in four of America's full-time college students is now addicted to drugs or to alcohol.

Medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen puts a human face on today's truly alarming numbers.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A few years ago, Denise might have been in this crowd, certainly drinking, almost certainly drinking too much. Denise says she went on outrageous binges in college several times a week.

DENISE, FORMER COLLEGE BINGE DRINKER: I would start out with beer. You know, I would start out with six -- you know, I don't know, six, seven beers. There were some times I would, you know, just like hit tequila. But, either way, the -- the result was always the same. I got trashed.

COHEN: Weekend partying became weekday partying.

(on camera): Did a day go by in college where you weren't drinking?


DENISE: If I was sleeping...


DENISE: ... resting up.

COHEN (voice-over): For years, Denise showed up in class hung over, and, on really bad days, actually drunk.

She doesn't blame her professors, but she does wonder how, for all those years, no one ever called her on it.

(on camera): Do you think they kind of had a hint that you were drinking?

DENISE: I don't know. I -- I can't imagine how they could not have. I know I fell asleep in class a lot.

COHEN (voice-over): It turns out that a startling number of students go through college drunk and high.

According to a new report from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, nearly half of all students binge-drink and/or abuse drugs. And, in a two-week period, nearly one out of every four college students goes on a drinking binge three or more times.

So, what can colleges do? Among the recommendations, banning alcohol in dorms, at on-campus parties, and at college sporting events. But the number-one recommendation, set clear substance abuse policies, and make sure that abuse has consequences, up to and including expulsion from school.

Denise agrees.

(on camera): What would have helped you? What would have helped you stop drinking?

DENISE: Well, I will -- I will tell you, is to have zero tolerance. Unless a student has some consequences, they're not going to want to quit.

COHEN (voice-over): It was just such a consequence that finally helped Denise. When she didn't show up for a final exam, her professor flunked her. Angry, Denise left school and got a job, but she got fired because of her drinking. And, finally, she entered a 12-step program.

She's thanked the teacher who gave her that failing grade. And now, after four years of being sober, she's back in school, and will graduate in May with honors.


ZAHN: Well, good for her, after a very long struggle, Elizabeth.

You know, some of the numbers we have shared with our audience so far are shocking, but there was a lot more in this report. What else did you find disturbing?

COHEN: I think the numbers that a lot of people found disturbing, Paula, had to do with the increase in prescription drug abuse. So, we're not talking about marijuana or cocaine. We're talking about prescriptions where all of us know someone who is legitimately taking this drug.

So, let's take a look at these statistics for abuse of prescription drugs. What this report found is that there was a 343 percent increase in opioid painkillers, things like Percocet and Vicodin, a 93 percent increase in stimulants, like Ritalin and Adderall, a 450 percent increase in abuse of tranquilizers, like Xanax, and a 225 percent increase in sedatives. And that's between 1993 and approximately the current time.

Now, one of the reasons those numbers are huge is that, in 1993, those pills were hardly used or abused at all. But the numbers still are gigantic. Why are they seeing this? Well, some people say students grew up with these drugs, that their parents were taking them, or they certainly knew people who were taking them.

So, there's relatively easy access. Plus, they feel safe. They know people who are taking them, and they certainly see ads for drugs like that quite often.

ZAHN: I don't think any of us ever expected the numbers to be that high, though, Elizabeth.

I want to bring now into our discussion addiction special Dr. Drew Pinsky. He is an assistant professor of psychiatry at USC School of Medicine. He will be with us throughout this hour.

Doctor, always good of you to join us.


ZAHN: We have mentioned that you are, in fact, an addiction specialist. Those numbers just blow me away. And I know you're immersed in this every day.

What is it that parents and teachers and faculty members need to be aware of about the warning signs of kids abusing these prescription drugs?

DR. DREW PINSKY, AUTHOR, "CRACKED: PUTTING BROKEN LIVES TOGETHER AGAIN": Well, the prescription drugs are actually very difficult to pick up. They're very covert. You don't smell anything on their breath. They may not be overtly sedated. There's a rapid tolerance to these medications. So, you may not have good evidence.

I think, overall, there needs to be a change in the culture, particularly at -- at educational institutions. You guys pointed it out in that piece, that these kids are coming to school intoxicated, sleeping, with evidence of major mental health, substance-related problems.

And, yet, we sort of live in the shadows of the '60s, and people somehow think, well, that's just how kids behave. Look, if they were growing a tumor out of their neck, the fact is, the education system would step up and go, hey, you have got to get some medical assistance for this.

The reality is, the probability of dying of addiction is higher than the majority of cancers. The prognosis is worse. So, the fact that we tacitly culturally endorse this in young people, for whom we're trying to actually develop their minds -- that's why they're in school -- and we're allowing their minds to be -- to develop an illness, frankly, while...

ZAHN: Right.

PINSKY: ... in school, and not do anything about it, it's astonishing to me...

ZAHN: Well...

PINSKY: ... just astonishing.

ZAHN: Well, what is astonishing, not only how passive society is about tackling this issue; this report is calling this a public health crisis.

PINSKY: Oh, absolutely.

ZAHN: But let's show the audience how kids view the abuse of -- substance abuse and alcohol abuse -- quote -- "In this rite of passage, students are socialized to consider substance abuse a harmless rite of passage and to medicate every ill."

PINSKY: This is so wrong.


ZAHN: How dangerous is this? PINSKY: Well, Paula, if you look at -- I mean, young adults and adolescents do not have cancer and heart disease. Their health issues are surrounding mental health, reproductive health, accidents, substance use.

And, if you look at every STI, every unwanted pregnancy, every rape, any unwanted sexual contact, every accident, you find drugs and alcohol. So, it is the predominant influence, it is the predominant cause of all their health issues for that time. It at least influences.

Whether you're talking about genuine addiction -- that is to say something who can't stop -- even vs. abuse, which is somebody who may not become fully addicted, but is merely abusing a substance, you're still talking about something that has a profound impact on the overall health of a young person. And we sort of look the other way.

Even as parents, we do this. Well, as long as they don't drink and drive, we say, right? I mean, we have decided that's a bad thing. But the reality is, zero tolerance. You heard a young person -- person in your piece there just moments ago saying zero tolerance helps her, would have helped her prevent a life-threatening illness.

Why we can't come to terms with this is bewildering to those of us that work in the field.

ZAHN: It's bewildering to us that don't work in the field.

Dr. Drew, thank you. Please stay with us throughout the hour. We want to hear your thoughts on what we're bringing out in the open a little bit later on tonight.

And we want to hear your thought as well. Please send us an e- mail to We're going to read them on the air and get Dr. Drew's reaction just a little bit later on.

Addiction, of course, isn't just a young person's problems. Listen to my Headline Prime colleague Glenn Beck.


BECK: It's a cycle, that you spin out of control, and you -- you get so low, because you think: I'm not an alcoholic. I'm not going to have this problem. I can beat this. I don't have to drink tonight.

And you make a promise to yourself in the morning: I'm not going to drink.

And you look at yourself -- as I'm brushing your teeth, look at myself: You're not going to drink today, because you can beat this. You're not an alcoholic.

And, by the end of the day, I had found a reason to drink. So, that next morning, I would go to brush my teeth, and it got to the point where I had to open up the mirror, because I could no longer look at myself, because I would think: You're pathetic and weak.



ZAHN: Welcome back to our special "Out in the Open" hour, "Hooked: When You Can't Stop."

We are taking a hard look tonight at drug and alcohol addiction. And, tonight, our sister network HBO launches a 14-part series on America's addiction crisis.

The first part tells nine stories, including the desperate struggle of Donna Ferguson and her daughter, who is addicted to heroin.

In the scene you're about to see, after years of fighting to help her daughter, Donna has finally taken the extreme step of calling the police to have them arrest her daughter.


DONNA FERGUSON, MOTHER OF HEROIN ADDICT: I got the call when he already had her at the station.

He said: I have somebody here that wants to talk to you.

And I just cried. I mean, it's -- I think it was just the emotions that built up inside, that, you know, I heard her voice, and I just all let loose.

But I'm nervous. I'm nervous with what's going to happen at the magistrate's office. And I'm probably more nervous with her coming home, because it's -- it's never worked in the past. But...

AUBREY, HEROIN ADDICT: I was just done running. I just couldn't do it anymore.

You have got to find a place to sleep every night. You have got to find ways to get money every day. It's just too much. I didn't care what happened, just as long as I GET high.

Then, near the end, it's just the money ran out. I had nowhere to go. I was like, right now, I care. This isn't what I want.


Thank you very much. Have a good day.



FERGUSON: Did you say thank you?

AUBREY: Yes, three times. (LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I told her no friends, no nothing, no visits, no fake eat-and-park lunches, no...

FERGUSON: Nothing.



FERGUSON: I'm going to run the house like a rehab.


FERGUSON: I'm just trying to get at what -- what it's going to take for you to reach your bottom?

AUBREY: I don't really know what a bottom is. I guess it's different for everybody. I mean, can I say I'm never going to take another drug or another drink for the rest of my life? No, I cannot say that.

Can I say I'm not going to take a drug or a drink today? Yeah, I can, you know? It works like that.

FERGUSON: I'm just thinking, what did we do wrong? Did -- or did we do anything wrong? Or what didn't we do that we need to do this time? Like, stick to a program.

AUBREY: I don't know. I need -- I need to not be bored. I need to get a job. I need to make new friends that don't use.

FERGUSON: You need to go to...


AUBREY: I know -- I know enough about addiction and recovery. I mean, I have been going to rehab since -- for, what, 10 years or something.

FERGUSON: Sixteen.

AUBREY: Sixteen, whatever -- eight years, seven years. I could -- I could run a rehab.


FERGUSON: We need to sit down and make a plan, a goal, a contract, something, and live by it.


ZAHN: Well, since that was filmed, Aubrey has been in and out of drug treatment, served time in jail, and now even has a 1-month-old baby girl. Aubrey's mother, Donna Ferguson, is with me now. So is Susan Froemke, who directed part of that HBO film, "Addiction." She's also a co-producer on this series.

Good to have both of you with us.


ZAHN: You were so brave to open up your life to the cameras, and particularly when you asked the question: What did we do wrong?

Do you have any idea what you did wrong?

FERGUSON: Well, no.

I -- I -- I know now that I didn't do anything wrong. My daughter has a disease, and she struggles with it. I guess, if I didn't do anything wrong -- if I did anything wrong, it was not getting the help for myself, and understanding the magnitude of the problem I was dealing with. And, once I got help for myself, I was able to -- to help her.

ZAHN: In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, you can get a bag of heroin for, what, $10 to $15.

What do you want other parents to know about how enticing this is for some kids, and how easy it is to get your hands on?

FERGUSON: It's probably less than that.

ZAHN: Right now?

FERGUSON: I think it's -- it's running about $6 or $7 a bag. It's very easy to get. You can -- it's -- I have seen drug deals go down right on the middle of the street.

And it's out there. It's -- my daughter, she could get it -- sometimes, you could just call them. They will deliver it. It's so easy.

But what I would tell other parents is to get yourself knowledgeable. Learn what you're dealing with, and get yourself into a support group, and get help for yourself, because addiction is a disease, and it brings in the whole family.

ZAHN: And, Susan, you were exposed to so many of these stories in the course of filming this documentary. What was it about Donna and Aubrey's story that so shocked you?

SUSAN FROEMKE, DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER: Well, at first, I was really surprised when Donna said that she was going to have her daughter arrested.

But, then, when I realized that -- that this was kind of a desperate attempt to save her daughter's life, that, in fact, prior to her making his decision, she had had Aubrey in rehab, I think -- was it seven times in the last 12 years?

ZAHN: Wow.

FROEMKE: And, so, I realized that this was a story that I had heard, you know, pretty commonly from other families.

And, so, I thought, if Donna was going to give us permission to film, we had to film this story, because it speaks a lot. I think, when -- when families put a child into rehab, they think, oh, the crisis is over; the problem is solved.

And, in fact, you know, they don't realize that this is a chronic illness, and it has -- and, when someone comes out of treatment, they have to be carefully monitored.

ZAHN: Sure. And we're going to explore that whole subject, relapse, throughout this hour.

Thank you both for joining us tonight, Susan Froemke.

Donna FERGUSON, you're one brave mom.


ZAHN: "Addiction" airs tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern on HBO.

Some parents don't have to save a child from addiction; they need to save themselves. That was the case for my colleague Glenn Beck.


BECK: I would get up, do the show, run the radio stations, come home, by 5:00, not a second after, I would pour myself one tumbler. I would smoke a bong, and take it from there.

ZAHN: Were you doing this with kids in the house?

BECK: Mm-hmm.

ZAHN: Did your kids see you...


ZAHN: ... get stoned?



ZAHN: Our "Out in the Open" special, "Hooked: When You Can't Stop," continues now.

We're devoting a whole hour to addiction. And one of my colleagues has a remarkable story of his own to tell. Headline Prime's Glenn Beck started drinking and doing drugs when he was just about 13, just after his mother, an addict herself, committed suicide. He smoked pot every day between the ages of 13 and 30. And then his life started to unravel. His doctor told him he would die within six months if he didn't change.

I recently spoke with him about his struggle in a very raw and emotional interview.


ZAHN: When you were at your absolute rock bottom, walk me through a typical day.

BECK: I would get up, do the show, run the radio stations, come home, by 5:00, not a second after, I would pour myself one tumbler. I would smoke a bong, and take it from there.

ZAHN: Were you doing this with kids in the house?

BECK: Mm-hmm.

ZAHN: Did your kids see you...


ZAHN: ... get stoned?

How disgusted...


BECK: You know what, Paula? It's -- I don't know if you can see it with all the makeup on. I still am embarrassed. And I am still -- it's the worst -- it's the worst thing I have ever done.

It is something that I struggled so hard to get away from. And it's -- it's those kinds of memories that make you want to drink, for me, to try to cover those, you know? And, if you don't serve other people, you will never get past it.

ZAHN: Do you even recognize that man anymore?

BECK: You know, my biggest pain, I guess, current, is that I don't recognize that guy anymore. But there are people that only knew me then, that that's the only guy they see. And that's hard.

ZAHN: How raw is that today?

BECK: Raw.

ZAHN: What is it you regret the most?

BECK: The way I treated people.

ZAHN: How badly did you treat people?

BECK: I fired a guy for bringing me the wrong pen one time. ZAHN: Were you drunk at the time?

BECK: Mm-mmm. Mm-mmm.

ZAHN: Had you been drunk the night before?

BECK: Uh-huh. Oh, yes. Yes.

I just -- you know, Paula, it wasn't the alcohol. It was the -- it was the personality that went with it.

And I became a bitter, angry guy. And, the more bitter I became, the more mean I became, the more I drank.

ZAHN: Have you ever had a relapse?

BECK: Almost did, the night I met my wife -- I don't believe in coincidence anymore. And I was thinking about drinking. In fact, I had been telling God for about a week: I can't do it anymore. I can't carry the load by myself anymore. And I have tried. I have given it my best.

And I had -- on a Sunday night, I had said a prayer, got down on my knees and said a prayer, and said, on Thursday, 8:00, I'm going to the bar and I'm ordering a Jack and Coke. And it's up to you -- it's up to you to put a roadblock in front of me.

And I went to the bar, and I ordered a Jack and Coke. And the bartender handed it to be. And I had it this close. I -- and I swung around -- I looked at the bartender, and I was swung around, and there was Tania, the woman that I'm now married to.

And I put the drink down. And I went over and I said, "Would you go have a cup of coffee with me?"

And we have been together ever since. She saved my life.

ZAHN: What was it about just seeing her that -- that -- you were, at that point, drinking and doing drugs for 20-odd years.

BECK: I had been sober, but I couldn't connect. I -- I still was full of the anger inside of me of myself. I hadn't really dealt with all of the issues. I had examined the issues, but I hadn't really started to deal with the issues. And it was her goodness that I connected with.

ZAHN: What kind of advice would you give to the some 23 million Americans who are fighting the same kind of addiction that you fought decade after decade?

BECK: Alcoholics aren't who you think they are.

I always thought that they were winos, so I couldn't be one. They are successful people. They are just like you. And it is so green and so warm on the other side. It just takes courage to walk through the storm. But, once you walk through that storm, your whole life opens up. It's just -- it's miraculous, what's on the other side.


ZAHN: And what has been on the other side for Glenn Beck is 12 years of sobriety.

If you need information about getting help for an addiction, please go to our Web site at

I have a commercial I want to show you right now, and I don't think, if you look closely, you will ever be able to look away.



UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: She's just always been there for me. I don't know. She's my mom.



ZAHN: Ads like these are supposed to convince meth addicts to get help. Are they working?

And, then a little bit later on, reality TV's Danny Bonaduce bringing his addiction out in the open.

We will be right back.


ZAHN: Look at that map. "Out in the Open" tonight, America's addiction crisis.

Welcome back to our special hour, "Hooked: When You Can't Stop".

A lot has been said about how methamphetamine abuse has devastated rural America. Montana has been especially hard hit, and now it's trying to do something about it. A big part of the Montana Meth Project is a series of graphic ads aimed at children. They have worked so effectively, that other states are planning to run them, too.

Dan Simon has a success story that is all too rare.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop looking at me!

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): They depict the horrors of methamphetamine addiction...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me in! I'm going to kill you!

SIMON: ... a gritty ad campaign running in Montana, targeting the most vulnerable population, teenagers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look, I'm just going to shoot up just once, all right? I'm not going to be like that guy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey. What about me?

SIMON: This girl wants to smoke meth for the very first time.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, give me some.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, all right. You want meth, kid? Here's your meth.

And here's your meth dealer. And your meth boyfriends. And your meth baby. And don't forget your meth face.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It hits you kind of personally, I guess.

SIMON: Talk to these teens as we did at Billings High School...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The thing that the meth ads did is they brought this problem out of hiding.

SIMON: ... and it's clear Madison Avenue should take note.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's so many different ones. Each of them have their own impact on you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The most disturbing one was probably the one where she's like scabbed up in the bathtub.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't do it. Don't do it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many of you know somebody your age who has tried meth?

SIMON: Almost every student raised their hand. And would the ads keep the kids from trying meth themselves? This time it's unanimous.

(on camera): This state known for its big skies has a big problem. Meth crimes account for half of Montana's prison population. For female inmates, it's a staggering 90 percent. And meth use among teens here is dramatically higher than the national average.

(voice over): It was the concern for the children that led Thomas Siebel (ph), a software billionaire and part-time Montana resident to spend more than $10 million of his own money to pay for the advertising, which also includes graphic billboards.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's an opportunity here to make a difference. I think there's an opportunity to effect a substantial reduction in methamphetamine use in the state of Montana. This is what we hope to do. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is drugs.

SIMON: Ad creators took note of past anti-drug campaigns, including Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No". They felt the new messages needed to be jarring, provocative, and in and your face to actually make a difference.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm really close with my mom. I always have been.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: John, what are you doing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nothing. Nothing. Leave me alone. I said leave me alone!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, we have to talk.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We did research on what do teens want to hear? They said don't sugarcoat us, don't sugarcoat the issues. Tell us -- tell it like it is.

SIMON: The agent in charge of Montana's DEA office says the change in young peoples' attitudes is striking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The kids are scared to death. They say, "I'm not ever going to touch that." They'll take cocaine or heroin before they'll ever touch methamphetamine.

SIMON (on camera): Because of the ads?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because of the ads.

SIMON (voice over): Christina Jennings (ph) was just around the target age of the ad campaign, 15 when she started doing meth. And for the next eight years, she says she used it almost every day. An addiction so powerful, Christina's (ph) children had to be placed in foster care.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Even though I knew I couldn't take care of them, and they were better without me, that was the hard part. It was knowing that they were better off without me.

SIMON: She's now 25, clean for two years, and has her children back. She sees herself in the ads, but doesn't think they would have stopped her from becoming a meth addict.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was in need of escape, and marijuana and alcohol weren't doing it. I would have done it eventually.

SIMON: But early statistics suggest the commercials are working. The ads began blanketing the local air waves in 2005, and Montana's attorney general reports that last year hospitals treated 67 percent fewer patients addicted to meth. During the same period, Montana also saw a 70 percent drop for workers testing positive for meth. No one can say for certain the ads are directly responsible, but drug fighters here are encouraged by the early numbers and feedback from teenagers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I did meth. And now this is my life.

SIMON: Dan Simon, CNN, Billings, Montana.


ZAHN: Now, let's get back to addiction specialist Dr. Drew Pinsky.

You've seen all of these commercials over the years. Why do these work?

PINSKY: Well, young people, if they have a perception of harm, are less likely to do something. It's very simple.

If you overstate it or exaggerate it, that tends not to get through to them. But these ads are actually quite accurate.

Methamphetamine, speed, is the drug of violence. They've seen it in their peers, and they know what can happen. And this just reminds them of it all the time.

It does nothing for addiction though. When somebody's already addicted, they can't stop. That's the nature of the disease. So any of these tactics have no impact on somebody who's already addicted.

ZAHN: Doctor, we're going to put up on the screen some of the signs that someone is addicted to meth. And what I want you to help us understand is what some of the other problems are that go beyond this.

PINSKY: Well, I mean, what you see up here, the appetite issues, the dilated pupils, the blown pupils, violent behavior -- as I mentioned, this is the drug of violence. And when they say speed kills, it's usually people on speed kill other people.

The tendency is to compulsively clean and pick. The picker syndrome, those sores you saw on the people's faces in the ads were actually self-induced from picking.

And then finally, a very characteristic delusion and hallucination about people close to them. It's extraordinarily disruptive of relationships, because on speed begin to develop paranoid delusions about the people close to them, neighbors, coworkers, family. And the delusions are elaborate and fixed and go on sometimes for weeks after they stop doing the speed.

ZAHN: Why is...

PINSKY: And by the way, they -- go ahead.

ZAHN: Doctor, why is it so hard to get off of it? PINSKY: Well, you know, addiction is a brain disease. It's a disorder of the motivational systems of the brain.

Basically it's a usurpation of the brain survival system. It's a part of the brain beneath consciousness. It doesn't have language, it doesn't have logic, and it sets up and uses at its own -- as a resource the rest of the brain. Thinking, feelings, all are at the service of this distorted survival system.

And with methamphetamine, the degree of intensity of the usurpation is so powerful and so distorted -- again, the thinking is so distorted that kids have no judgment and no ability to see what's happening to them.

ZAHN: Dr. Drew, if you wouldn't mind hanging around, we're going to come back to you in a little bit.


My next guest in this knows all about the temptations that come with fame and fortune. Danny Bonaduce brings his demons "Out in the Open".

And then a little bit later on, how a university is helping recovering addicts get through school sober.

And if you have a comment for Dr. Drew Pinsky, please e-mail us now at He'll read some of them on the air a little bit later on.

Please stay with us.


ZAHN: "Out in the Open" tonight, America's addiction crisis.

Welcome back to our special hour, "Hooked: When You Can't Stop".

Danny Bonaduce was a child star on the hit '70s TV show "The Partridge Family," but struggled for decades after that with substance abuse. More recently, he starred in his own reality series on VH1 exposing his demons to everyone.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, I was thinking that really transferring kind of your focus to the obsessive working out behavior was going to be a really good thing. And now I'm thinking that it could really go south.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's just being a little odd.

BONADUCE: I'm in a pretty bad mood.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're scaring people. People are scared.

He's having some kind of a breakdown.

BONADUCE: What part of "no" don't you get? Back the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) off!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't even know what he's got in his system.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's blown a gasket.

BONADUCE: I don't know what's happening anymore.

I am checking straight into rehab.


ZAHN: And Danny Bonaduce joins me now to share his personal story of addiction.

You know, we all wince when we see that part of your first season, when you had hit rock bottom.

BONADUCE: Actually, I was...

ZAHN: What kind of drug were you doing?

BONADUCE: Well, first of all, let me just tell you, I winced because I've never seen that before. I've never seen one second of that show before. So I was not prepared for that.

ZAHN: And how did that make you feel when you saw that was how you behaved?

BONADUCE: Well, that's the reason I didn't watch it. I was -- I was pretty confident of the way I had behaved, and I think I had -- if there is such a thing as the appropriate level of shame, I think I carried it. And I didn't see the need to relive it by watching it. But that -- that maniac you saw on TV, that was a pretty fair resemblance of my life.

ZAHN: The real addict. I mean, you had a critic watching the show saying you were a "... deceitful exhibitionist who shows no ability or willingness to exercise any control over himself, indulging every obsession or compulsion that momentary seizes him."

Is that who you used to be?

BONADUCE: Yes. As a matter of fact, it actually took longer to say that sentence than it would take me to have the restraint not to do something I shouldn't. Yes, I had absolutely no restraint. A compulsive -- I don't know about disorder, but if occurred to me, I had to manifest it physically within moments or I couldn't take the pressure.

ZAHN: How were you abusing yourself? What drugs were you using? How much alcohol were you drinking?

BONADUCE: It will save us a great deal of time if I talk about the drugs I wasn't using. I was drinking as much alcohol as, you know -- half a bottle of vodka to a full bottle of vodka a day. At some points -- I mean, you have to understand, I quit illegal drugs 20 years ago and then replaced them with alcohol and legal narcotics, which then I just used illegally. You know, so it's -- I've been doing one thing or another for 20 years, maybe more.

ZAHN: And of course you heard the statistics today, that we now think that half of all college kids are in some way abusing drugs or alcohol.

What lessons can they learn from your downward spiral?

BONADUCE: Well, see, I'm very nervous about that actually, because, to be honest with you, if you would had asked me two years ago, I wouldn't have cared much what happened to addicted college students. Now I'm afraid of my own success, because if they watch that animal that was on TV just now -- and I describe myself as an animal with little or no shame, because I seem to have or -- and my family believes I have overcome it -- I would hate to give the false message that there's anything easy about crawling out of that quagmire I lived in and getting your life back.

I know people -- I go to meetings that end in the letter "A," and people never get their lives back, and they never speak to their children again. And they were fine young men when they ran over that innocent child in the street because they were drunk, and they'll never be the same.

So I don't want to send the message, look, it all works out in the end, relax. It's a terrible, terrible thing to be a drug addict and an alcoholic.

And believe me, college kids, out of almost everything except possibly meth, alcohol may be the worst thing of them all.

ZAHN: Well, that is a very important message to get across. And we hope you stay out of that hole, Danny Bonaduce.

Thank you for joining us tonight. Appreciate it.

BONADUCE: Thank you.

ZAHN: We're going to move on right now. We've got to take a quick "BizBreak".



ZAHN: Welcome back to "Hooked: When You Can't Stop," our "Out in the Open" special.

We're talking about America's battle with addiction and the alarming new study about drug and alcohol abuse on college campuses. It finds that about half of all American college students abuse drugs or go on alcohol binges.

Here's Keith Oppenheim and how one college is trying to help addicted students change their lives.


KEITH OPPENHEIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Her name is Brook. At 14, she says she started with marijuana. By 20, she was a hard-core alcoholic.

BROOK, STUDENT: I would go to the bar. When I got off work, I'd stop at the gas station, get a six pack to get ready to go out for the evening.

JOE PARKER, STUDENT: Hey. Come on, boy.

OPPENHEIM: His name is Joe Parker. He says he was an addict by the age of 11.

PARKER: There's really not too much I didn't try. I mean, everything from weed to acid, X coke, a lot of cocaine.

OPPENHEIM: Today, both Joe and Brook are sober. In fact, getting sober was a requirement for them to get accepted as students in a unique program at Texas Tech University, a program that's essential to their survival.

KITTY HARRIS, CENTER FOR STUDY OF ADDICTION & RECOVERY: To be in recovery from substance abuse and to be on a college campus is an absolute catastrophe without support.

OPPENHEIM: Kitty Harris directs Texas Tech's Center for the Study of Addiction and Recovery. She says the program is designed to support former addicts like Brook, Joe, and some 80 other students, and help them get through college with sobriety counseling. She says that support is vital, because Texas Tech, like many schools, still has a deeply entrenched culture of alcohol and drug use.

BROOK: There are about 80 students that I can call, hang out with, study with, tutor me, or I can tutor at any point.

OPPENHEIM (on camera): And be sober with.

BROOK: And be sober with.

OPPENHEIM (voice over): Brook says the pressure to drink and take drugs stems from the pressure of school and from a culture that values getting high.

BROOK: It feels good to be high. You don't have to think about your test the next day. You don't have to think about your paper's due the following week.

OPPENHEIM: For students in recovery, staying sober is hard. PARKER: The thought will just cross my mind out of nowhere that, you know, a cold beer would be nice right now. And other times it's a lot more powerful and it hits me like a -- like a ton of bricks.

OPPENHEIM: Two years ago, Brook had a relapse, egged on by friends who drank.

BROOK: I had full access. It's not like when I lived at home. Like, I could go to the bar there. But when I was here, you know, I can go next door and start drinking with my friends.

OPPENHEIM (on camera): It's right there.

BROOK: It right there.

OPPENHEIM (voice over): Once again, Brook got help and turned her life around.

Kitty Harris says one factor in the rise of consumption, more kids are getting addicted younger. As early as elementary and middle school.

HARRIS: And they oftentimes are already really sick. They come to the campus and the whole world is opened up for them to continue that behavior.

OPPENHEIM: Brook and Joe know they're addicts, but they believe a growing number of college students around them are becoming addicts and don't realize it yet. And few colleges have what Texas Tech has, a recovery center dedicated to keeping addicted students straight.

(on camera): For people who don't have that kind of support, college must be a time when it's hard to resist, maybe even impossible?

PARKER: Yes. I would -- I would say that if I didn't have that support, then it would -- it would -- it would make it a lot harder. I don't know about impossible, but it would make it a lot -- a lot harder.

OPPENHEIM (voice over): Keith Oppenheim, CNN, Lubbock, Texas.


ZAHN: And we're going to change our focus for a little bit right now. You're about to meet a former pro-basketball player who is discovering a brand new passion in a very different arena.

Here's Ali Velshi with tonight's "Life After Work".


ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's been 15 years since Duke University cut the nets down after winning back-to-back college basketball championships. A few of those players went on to have successful careers in the NBA. Others, like Brian Davis, gave the pros a try, but ultimately found a different path.

BRIAN DAVIS, FMR. NBA PLAYER: I knew I was at a great school, I played on a great team. But I wasn't Michael Jordan. You know, and I recognized that very early. When you're not that good, you try to focus on life after basketball.

VELSHI: After playing for a few years in the NBA and in Europe, Davis retired to focus on his other passion, working to revitalize inner cities through real estate development. Davis formed a company called Blue Devil Ventures in 1995 with a couple of partners, including former teammate Christian Laettner.

DAVIS: We're an urban development firm, and our focus is historic preservation and the rehabilitation of urban environments.

VELSHI: Their first development was a group of abandoned tobacco mills they converted into apartments near downtown Durham, North Carolina. After the success of that project, Davis and his partners built a second phase and decided to develop similar projects in other cities.

DAVIS: I think you have to have vibrant neighborhoods so young people grow up to be positive and make contributions. So we thought that we would create mixed-use neighborhoods that would create some jobs and some real wealth.

VELSHI: Davis hasn't completely left the sports world behind. He made a failed bid to buy the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies. But he did succeed in becoming the owner of another team, a soccer team, earlier this year. Davis was part of a group that purchased the D.C. United.

Ali Velshi, CNN, New York.


ZAHN: Coming up, your e-mails and questions about addiction. Please join our conversation on the other side of this break.


ZAHN: More now of our "Out in the Open" special, "Hooked: When You Can't Stop".

Dr. Drew Pinsky is here again to take your e-mails.

Our first one comes from an anonymous communicator.

He writes, "I am currently a college student and I am wondering about addictive personalities. Although I don't binge like some people, I still drink at least five times a week. I suspect I have an addictive personality. So what can I do?"


PINSKY: Well, Paula, I really don't believe there is such a thing as an addictive personality. What there is, is such a thing as an addictive biology.

We really haven't defined addiction yet tonight. It's a genetic -- a biological disorder with a genetic basis. The hallmark is progressive use in the face of adverse consequence -- work or school, finance, health, relationships, or legal circumstances, and finally denial.

You don't have to drink every day. You don't have to be having medical consequences. But if you meet those criteria, typically if you see a family history of addiction, and you think you have momentum with a substance, I would talk to a professional about it, or just stop using substances all together if you can.

ZAHN: So, if this kid is drinking five days a week, he's looking for trouble down the road if he doesn't stop.

PINSKY: If he has a family history of alcoholism, this may be incipient alcoholism, yes.

ZAHN: On to an e-mail from Michael in San Diego. He writes, "What are the first steps a family should take if they know a member of their family is using and abusing drugs?"

PINSKY: Well, if a family member finds out, particularly if you're a parent, if you have evidence of substance abuse, believe me, you are seeing just the tip of the iceberg. If you are a parent, get professional help immediately.

If you are a concerned family member, you want to try to get that person to professional help. That can be very difficult sometimes.

And this piece of advice is going to sound a little goofy, but I mean it very seriously. Family involved with someone with addiction, if they themselves start going to Al-Anon and do a 12-step program, I can't tell you how frequently I've seen that motivate the identified patient, the addict, to treatment. It's rather extraordinary.

ZAHN: But isn't it true that a lot of families are simply in denial out of sheer terror?

PINSKY: Oh, of course. I mean, again, especially as parents, you don't want to see that.

The scariest thing that a parent can say is, "Not my kid." You don't want to see it, or you find something in their backpack, like -- let's say. You want to believe the explanation the child gives you.

Don't. Get professional help. You have a serious problem here. It's an awful thing to have to come to terms with, but it's there, and you want to get it before it's too late.

ZAHN: Dr. Drew Pinsky, thank you for all of your help tonight.

Our Web site has some more information for all of you out there getting help for addiction. Please go to

That wraps it up for all of us here tonight. Thanks so much for joining us.

We'll be back same time, same place, tomorrow night. In the meantime, have a great night.

"LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.


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