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Addiction Examined

Aired March 11, 2010 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, addiction and the destruction it causes.


TOM ARNOLD, ACTOR: When you hate yourself, when you hate the guy in the mirror, which was I did -- what I did.


KING: Sex, drugs, booze.




KING: Raw, real accounts of getting high.


ARNOLD: Any time I drank there was only one reason to drink and that's to get completely wasted.


KING: And getting sober.


DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST, VH1'S "CELEBRITY REHAB": Well, denial is part of addiction.


KING: Those who have been there and done that...


PHILLIPS: And I started, you know, stealing my dad's drugs.


KING: -- share their struggles, their secrets. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARNOLD: You know, when I was four to seven, with this man that baby sat me and...


KING: And how they finally conquered the demons that threatened to destroy them.


A very important program tonight.

And our guests are Dr. Drew Pinsky, host of VH1's "Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew" and the new program "Sober House" on VH1.

And our good friend, Tom Arnold, the actor, recovering addict. He's the host and producer of "Kid Pitch," airing Sundays on Fox Sports Net. And in fairness, my children, Chance and Cannon King, are both active participants in that show. I really like it, by the way.

ARNOLD: And in fairness, they're both better than you and I combined.

KING: They're pretty good.

ARNOLD: Seriously.

KING: All right. The key question, doctor. I don't know if it's ever been answered.

Why do you get a -- why do people get addicted?

PINSKY: Addiction -- you know, how to define addiction, I think, is the place to start this. And people have all sorts of opinions about whether addiction is a disease or isn't. I urge people first to define what disease is before they determine whether something is or is not a disease.

And, basically, a disease is an abnormal state of physiology reflected in signs and symptoms that progress in a predictable way and have a predictable response to treatment.

KING: Well, the flu is a disease.

PINSKY: Correct. And where people get hung up with addiction is that it's a brain disease. That's where the pathophysiology is. And the manifestations are it has a genetic component. So there needs to be evidence of family history. It's a biological disorder -- again, a brain disease. The hallmarks -- the manifestations are a progressive use and preoccupation in the face of adverse consequence, and then, finally, denial. And that's it.

If you have family history, if you have evidence of use despite consequences, that's a sign that you've got this condition. KING: But, Tom, you did not know or do not know why you are an addict, do you?

ARNOLD: Well, I know this. I -- I don't understand why people only drink two drinks. I -- any time I drank, there was only one reason to drink and that's to get completely wasted and then to go on from there. And so...

KING: Do you know why you started?

ARNOLD: Because I liked it. It made me feel good. I remember the first...

PINSKY: Well, and that is -- Larry, that's a very important question, because people are beginning to come to terms these days with the idea that addiction is a brain disorder and a switch is thrown in the brain where they lose control over their motivational priorities. But where -- where many of the people get hung up is, well, why did you drink in the first place, then, Tom?

And he said it exactly clearly there -- I felt better. People either feel good or feel better. They're trying to regulate emotions that are unregulated. And when -- if you have this genetic potential and you find your way to a substance, it really works for you.

KING: Could someone have two drinks then and be an alcoholic, three drinks and not be?

PINSKY: Yes, to answer that.

KING: It's what it does to you.

PINSKY: It's what it does to you, the manifestations and the consequences.

KING: Do you know why Tom was or Tom is an alcoholic, right?

PINSKY: Well, Tom went...

KING: -- even though he's sober?

PINSKY: He has the genetic potential, so that gene was activated.


PINSKY: And then you had some heavy stuff go on early on.

ARNOLD: Right. And I know that when I went from my first drinks at Schaefer's Stadium in Ottumwa, Iowa when I was 11 years old -- the first time I drank a couple of beers, I felt really good about myself, very powerful. And I didn't think about any of the bad stuff and I liked it. It was a cure for what was ailing me.

KING: How long before it affected your life? ARNOLD: Well, I started getting arrested when I was 15 or 16 and -- but, you know, where I grew up, that was just sort of part of life and I didn't think it was a problem because I didn't use drugs. I didn't even smoke pot until I was out of high school.

But later in life, when I discovered cocaine, I -- I discovered that's it. That's -- that's right -- that's what I need.

KING: Is cocaine an addendum to alcohol?

Did you do both?

ARNOLD: Yes. Yes, I did until the end and then I just quit alcohol and just focused on cocaine because that was what made me feel the best.

PINSKY: Tom actually has one of the most traumatic stories I ever heard, when you were in there locked in the bathroom, looking, ready to cut your eye.

You want to tell that story?

ARNOLD: Yes. I was -- I had been up for five days, which was my usual thing with cocaine. And I was looking at my eyes and I noticed there was skin on the outside of my eye ball. And I thought that's...


ARNOLD: -- that shouldn't be there. I pulled it out from my eye ball with tweezers. I was just about to cut it, you know, to get rid of that skin. And that's the kind of stuff you do when you've been up for five days on cocaine.

PINSKY: Let me -- I think you told me something, the FBI was on the other side of the mirror telling you to do this.

ARNOLD: Yes. Well, it was all being filmed...


ARNOLD: It was all being filmed for a documentary the FBI was doing on addiction. I was talking to the mirror. I said, I know you're here and I know you're filming this, but so -- anyway, this is what I'm going to do.

KING: This could be weird. My late friend, Lenny Bruce, used to say there has to be some drug addicts who are OK. They're addicted, but they're OK.


KING: In other words, there's got to be a good side to this.

ARNOLD: The first time I did cocaine, in 1984, it was awesome. It was so awesome, I did it all. I used my girlfriend's cash card and I went and got more. And then every time, for the next five years, that I did it, it was less awesome, but I tried to get back to that first day. And then the -- but at the end, I knew for sure as soon, as I snorted some cocaine I would feel depressed, paranoid, all those other things. But I still did it in hopes of reaching that first point.

PINSKY: But that in hopes of is the brain trying to make sense...

ARNOLD: That's the insanity.

PINSKY: Yes, trying to make sense of the (INAUDIBLE) behavior.

ARNOLD: Doing the same thing over and over and knowing the results, but expecting different results.

PINSKY: Right.

KING: Mackenzie Phillips is here with her harrowing account of addiction and the latest on her half sister's disorder, as well.

That's our subject tonight -- addiction.

Don't go away.



PINSKY: Would you allow me to at least redo that bathroom or your bedroom or some way of -- to me, it was like it was stain -- I was sort of percolating with it for a couple days. And I thought, you know, why don't we just fix it?

Let's go do it while you're here and you walk back into home and you've got something that supports your sobriety, not reminds you about your addiction.

PHILLIPS: You're going to make me cry. That's really nice, you know.

PINSKY: Well, let's go -- let's go do it.

PHILLIPS: I walked in here thinking this is going to be all about a TV show, but you people care so much. You guys blow me away on a daily basis.


KING: And joining us now, Mackenzie Phillips, the actress, best- selling author of "High on Arrival." She's a participant in this season's "Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew".

How long have you been sober?

PHILLIPS: I have been since August of 2008, basically. KING: So this is recent?

PHILLIPS: Well, it's 2010.

KING: Well, it's only two years.

PHILLIPS: Yes. But I mean...

KING: How long are you sober, Tom?

ARNOLD: December 10th, I think, of 2009 was my 20th sober birthday and so -- knock on wood. And I'm still sober and...

KING: Was your addiction liquor?

PHILLIPS: No. My -- my addiction was hard drugs, cocaine, heroin.

KING: Do you know why you started?

PHILLIPS: Boy, you know, I've recently been able to revisit that. I mean I grew up in a very permissive household with my father. There were drugs all around and, you know, the rock and roll lifestyle. And I saw a lot of drugs as a child. And I started, you know, stealing my dad's drugs and smoking pot with him when I was 10 or 11.

KING: Did you feel good right away?


KING: Why would you do it again if you didn't?

PHILLIPS: Exactly. I mean I remember -- and I -- we hear this all of the time, I felt like I was home. I felt like I finally belonged. I fit in. I was actually, like, you know, worthy. I felt worthy. Before that, I just sort of felt like this weird little kid that everyone was kind of talking about and...

KING: How is she doing, doc?

PINSKY: Oh, Mackenzie is great. I think -- I think this book was really an important part of her journey, too. I mean it...

KING: It helped her?

PINSKY: Yes, I think it -- working on her sobriety and letting people know who she actually is. I think Mack gets a bad rap. And I really think some people look at addicts as, oh, it's just that addict.

But when you really understand the story, the biology they're dealing with, the circumstances that contributed to them initiating their drug use, it starts to become justice and it's a poignant human condition.

KING: Mackenzie, how do you make a drug of choice?

PHILLIPS: I -- well, I'm -- I don't know the mechanics of it. But for me, it was, you know, using around until I found something that made me feel just like Tom. It was cocaine.

KING: What was your drug?

PHILLIPS: Cocaine and then -- I was clean and sober for 10 years.


PHILLIPS: And after my father passed away, I relapsed. And then I started using cocaine again and then I started using heroin.

KING: On the day you relapsed, what happened?

What caused...

PHILLIPS: You know it, wasn't -- it wasn't something that was in -- in the moment. For me, it was a -- a gradual process. I -- I started having ridiculously intense physical pain and I was put on painkillers by the doctors, which made me -- they said, you know, you're probably going to be on opiates the rest of your life.

PINSKY: From her perspective, that's already -- she's already in at that point. She's in relapse. Things are already underway. It's just a matter of time before she starts using other drugs.

KING: Were you sober and went back?

ARNOLD: Yes. Oh, of course. Of course. It took me -- in 1986, I started -- you know, I had been arrested seven times. I started saying this could be a problem.


ARNOLD: And I started trying to get sober. So it took me three years to get one day. And, you know, I've known Mackenzie a long time. And, you know, when you see -- when you hear 2008 to 2010, that doesn't sound like a long time, but I know that she's worked on it for many, many, many years.


ARNOLD: And, also, with me, I have mild Asperger's and ADHD. And as a kid, I was put on Ritalin and...

PHILLIPS: Me, too.

ARNOLD: You know, then as an adult, I got the prescription. And then immediately I said, if I can do Ritalin, I can do cocaine. I mean that's perfect.

KING: In your book, you -- you said you had a consensual sex relationship with your father and you said it on this show. Now you've changed, right?

It wasn't consensual.

PHILLIPS: Well, you know, I -- I think that it's -- it's a very difficult word. It was a very difficult word for me to wrap my mind around when I was writing the book. And I kept thinking, I'm so not comfortable with this word, because it doesn't seem to actually tell the right story.

But for want of a better word, I used the word consensual. I have since been schooled by hundreds and thousands of survivors and people like Drew around the world and around the country that there -- there really is no such thing as consensual incest.

KING: How...

PINSKY: You can't consent to that.

ARNOLD: She's trying to protect her father, which I understand.


ARNOLD: This is our natural instinct.

KING: A consensual rape.

PINSKY: It feels consensual.


PINSKY: Yes, exactly. That's right.

KING: Have you -- your half sister. The musician, Chynna Phillips, recently out of rehab.

That was for anxiety, right?

PHILLIPS: That's correct.

KING: How is she doing?

PHILLIPS: She's doing great. She's home with her family. I feel like she did a great thing for herself and for all of us to go and, you know -- I mean I support her the way she supported me.

KING: Why is addiction so hard to stop?

PINSKY: Because you have to understand that -- that for an addict, this is the hardest -- even I, as somebody who deals with this all the time, I blink once in a while and I -- I lose the focus. The focus is, of an addict, survival equals using, period. So all -- every thought, every feeling -- even though it not may be associated with an appetitive desire or a craving, all motivations are directed toward using in some fashion -- every thought, every idea.

If Tom thinks it's a good idea to visit a neighborhood where he used to score cocaine or something, just because they need to scout for a film, I promise you the reason he's going down there is not to scout for the film...

ARNOLD: Exactly.

PINSKY: -- even though he thinks it is.


ARNOLD: Exactly.

PHILLIPS: And the interesting thing is that...

ARNOLD: That's true.

PHILLIPS: -- even if you know you're screwed, you are screwed. You are so screwed up. You've lost your -- your sobriety and you're using. You can't find out how to stop. You can't figure it out.


KING: Jane Velez-Mitchell was hiding an addiction secret for years. She's going to tell us what it was and why. She wants you to know about it, next.


KING: Our full panel is now assembled, with the addition of Jane Velez-Mitchell from New York, host of "ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ- MITCHELL" on HLN, author of, "iWant: My Journey from Addiction and Overconsumption to a Simpler, Honest Life."

What were you addicted to, Jane, and why was it a secret?

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST, HLN'S "ISSUES": Well, I was a lush, Larry. And, God willing, in April, I'll have 15 years of sobriety. But I was a blackout drinker. In fact, I would call my friends the next morning and I'd call them damage assessment meetings. I'd say, what the heck happened after 9:45?

I can remember this, but I can't remember. So some people can keep drinking and drinking because they don't black out and they manage to function. But with me, it was a very serious, serious disease and I had to stop. And thank God I got into recovery, that's all I can say.

KING: Do you remember why you started?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Knock on wood.

KING: Can you remember why you started?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I think it says -- the shrinks say multi- determined, meaning there's a lot of reasons. I had a genetic predisposition. My dad was a high functioning alcoholic, an advertising executive. And then, environmentally, I saw it in the home. I saw him drink. I didn't realize that people didn't have three or four martinis every night before going to bed, so I thought that was normal.

And then when I got older and I was in high school and I was kind of this book shy, bookworm and an only child and didn't have a lot of friends. And one day I said, you know what, I'm turn into a loner.

I'm going to get popular.

And I started -- my dad would send me down to get quarts of Gordon's gin. He'd say, Janie, go down and get me a carton of Pall Mall's and a couple of quarts of Gordon's gin. And I started taking my own wine. I think it was Wild Irish Rose and Boone's Farm.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I'd take a couple of bottles for myself on the company account. Nobody was the wiser. Soon I had a wine closet. And the next thing you know, I was real popular.

KING: You said you were drinking down your sexuality, meaning?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I'm gay and I'm out. But that took a long time to get there. And as long as I had the alcohol, I could drink down those uncomfortable feelings. I had to come to terms with who I was. And I went into therapy. And I first I confront -- first I told my therapist, then I told my close friends and family and, finally, talking about Senator Larry Craig on a radio show, I told the rest of us that I'm gay.

KING: How did you get sober?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I hit bottom. It's kind of funny because I was at a party recently and I ended up in front of the house where I hit bottom. And I said, oh, that's where I hit bottom. And the -- the 15 years just ran before me like a high speed movie.

I'm so, so grateful now. I know that I never have to worry about what I'm going to say or do as the night wears on. I know I'll remember everything that happens. I know that I can never do anything as a sober person that's ever as embarrassing as what I did when I drank. And I know that, as the old saying goes, on, you know, my worst day sober is better than my best day drunk.

So I got sober when I got sick and tired of being sick and tired. I was at a party. I made a fool of myself. I was very lucky. I never even got a DUI. But I was a blackout drinker...

KING: All right...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- and thanks to some really close friends, they helped me get sober.

KING: Drew, even if someone manages to quit...

PINSKY: Yes? KING: -- how much help do they need solving the problem that caused it in the first place -- or don't they need any help?

PINSKY: Well, very often just treating the alcoholism and addiction manages these other issues that were motivating the using in the first place.

I've noted many of your questions are directed toward why did you use, why did you start?

And a lot of people today have childhood traumas. That's a very, very common initiating event. And so emotional disregulation. As they hit adolescence, they look in our culture for solutions. Our solution gives drugs and alcohol. That's where they go and they feel better. They keep going and then finally the switch is thrown and they're diseased.


ARNOLD: -- says to me, when I got sober, at the end, they -- you do your alcohol inventory, your drug inventory and then they have you do a sexual inventory, which I thought, what does this have to do with anything?

And I'm writing through this and I said well, you know, there was this thing that happened, you know, when I was four to seven with the man that babysat me. And, you know, it was -- it was a game and it was, you know, but that was -- you know, it was something I always just didn't want to talk about or -- I wasn't ashamed, I just never really had faced it...

PINSKY: And common to survivors and what we say, I dealt with that. I don't think about it any more.

ARNOLD: Right.

PINSKY: But that -- it gets filed away and walled off from the rest of their...

KING: Jane...

PINSKY: -- emotional functioning.

KING: Jane, did you ever -- ever try hard drugs?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I think that anybody who's my age who says they never dabbled is either living under a rock or lying. Yes, but that was not my drug of choice. My first drug of choice and the one that really was the problem for me, the one I was obsessed with was alcohol. I didn't need those other hard drugs, because give me two margaritas and I might as well have been on LSD, frankly.

KING: We'll take a break and come back with more.

Our subject tonight all the way is addiction. The panel will be with us all the way. Heidi Montague, Tiger Woods Charlie Sheen -- do they all have real addictions?

We'll talk about that ahead.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dr. Drew asked me today -- oh, God, it was so funny.

PHILLIPS: What did he say?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Listen. He goes -- he does, when do you think was the time in your life that you drank the most?

And I said, oh, that's easy.

He goes...

PHILLIPS: What are you doing?

She's dead.

Somebody killed Mindy.


Mindy, are you faking it?

She's not faking this. She's having a seizure.



She's having a seizure right now.


KING: When you wake up in the morning, Mackenzie, are you mad at yourself?

PHILLIPS: No. No, I'm not mad at myself.

KING: Were you mad at yourself?

PHILLIPS: I have been in the past.

ARNOLD: Oh, in the past, I was always.


ARNOLD: And I have a hard time -- I will say this. The only way to get sober is to do it for me -- me and not my ex-wife or for my job or whatever. And when you hate yourself, when you hate the guy in the mirror, which was I did -- what I did, I -- I could see no way through that.

But my last time in rehab, when I was packing up my stuff to leave Roseanne's house, I threw in a picture of myself when I was four. I don't know why. But this is how God works, if you believe in God.

And I -- I was going through that and I found a picture of myself when I was four. And that's -- that's when my mother left. And I saw that little kid and I said, boy, I love him. He's a great little kid. And then I realized, well, that's me. So I'm going to do that for him, for me.

And so I still look in the mirror and don't like what I see.

KING: Jane, did you hate yourself?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, yes. The incomprehensible demoralization that you experience when you wake up and you say to yourself, who was that person last night?

And the fact is that we're not in charge. We're like robots when we're drinking. It's an uncontrollable craving. And people who don't have it can't really identify, because they don't know what it's like. The mind is -- is completely a low defense against a...

KING: I want...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- real addictive craving.

KING: I want all your thoughts on a major topic of discussion lately -- sexual addiction, the Tiger Woods story, obviously. The Daily Beast had an article last week titled, "Every Man is a Sex Addict," saying sexual craving by its nature is an innate and natural phenomenon.

Right or wrong, Dr. Drew?

PINSKY: Sexual craving, by its nature, for sure is. But to lose control over it to the point that you have severe consequences upon the people that you love or you put yourself in harm's way, that's a problem.

KING: Do all of the panelists believe it's an addiction?


ARNOLD: I believe it is for -- for the people that we're talking about.

Why would someone risk hurting their children, their wife, their career, everything they built up, their legacy, unless they were addicted to it and do it so blatantly, foolishly that they wanted to get caught, obviously?

PHILLIPS: And you've got to understand that -- that people who have sexual addiction, although I'm not one of them, I have a small understanding of it, is that it's not like they're so thrilled that they're having all this sex. It's a compulsion. These people wake up and they -- some of them masturbate like 60 times a day and they'll just go...


PHILLIPS: -- from one sex...

ARNOLD: Is that bad?

ARNOLD: Oh. All right.

KING: How about -- Jane, how about Heidi Montag, 10 procedures in one day of plastic surgery.

In your opinion, is that an addiction, Jane?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: She says she isn't, but I say she is. I mean, look, if a Bowery bum is drunk on the corner, he may not call himself an alcoholic, but we can observe it. I think there are so many addictions that are not being acknowledged as addictions in our society. You look at the obesity crisis. That's food addiction. You look at global warming. That's the addiction to over consumption.

So we, as Americans, need to wake up to the addictive component in all of our dysfunctional behavior and start addressing it at such, because otherwise, we're not going to be able to combat these problems.

KING: Don't we like to say, doctor, you're addicted, I'm not?

PINSKY: Well, denial is part of an addiction. And so it's a -- and addict might.

KING: I was a smoker. I was a smoker, three packs a day. I was addicted.

PINSKY: Yes. Addicts like to blame everybody and everything.

ARNOLD: But what are you saying that -- when we talk about Ms. Montag, what is she addicted to?

She's not addicted to plastic surgery.

PINSKY: The opiates that she gets after the plastic surgery, if she's addicted to...


PINSKY: That's a piece that miss.

PHILLIPS: I remember setting -- having, you know, if I had to have dental surgery or if I was going to -- anything, you know, I remember thinking, wow! I'm going to get some Vicodin out of this.

PINSKY: That's -- I don't know that Heidi's got this... KING: How about...

PINSKY: -- but I see this.

KING: How about painkillers?

Aerosmith's Steven Tyler addicted to Vicodin.

PINSKY: Right. And that's the (INAUDIBLE)...

KING: Getting hurt on -- falling down.

PINSKY: Opiods...

KING: Getting hurt.

PINSKY: -- are one of the most serious forms of addiction there is. It has the highest recidivism. And you can...

KING: And you can buy it legally.

PINSKY: Well, there's a whole...

KING: Or prescribe it. You can prescribe it?

PINSKY: Absolute. It's a commonly prescribed medication. If you know the right things to say, you will get them.

KING: What does a doctor to if a man comes in and is saying I'm having a terrible headache?

What do you do?

You can't deny a headache?

PINSKY: Well, do you have a family a history of addiction?

Have you ever been addicted to anything yourself that...

KING: I've got a terrible headache, doc. Just help me.

PINSKY: I -- well, I -- if -- if, indeed, you j you give me some distorted information, I still might give you some opiates, but a very small supply.

KING: We'll be right back with more.

We're going to meet a very interesting young lady next.


KING: Joining us in this segment is Stephanie Wilder-Taylor, author of "It's Not Me, It's You." You took a comical approach to drinking and started writing funny blogs about it. How did that start? STEPHANIE WILDER-TAYLOR, AUTHOR, IT'S NOT ME, IT'S YOU": Well, it was right after my first daughter was born, and I was so anxious and overwhelmed by being a mom. It was like a crazy time. And I was already a TV writer by trade. So I had to figure out a way to write, but from the comfort of my own couch, in my pajamas breast-feeding. SO I started a blog.

KING: You were drinking at the same time?

WILDER-TAYLOR: Yes. I was drinking wine at the same time.

KING: When did you start with alcohol?

WILDER-TAYLOR: Oh, I've been drinking since I was maybe 14, like most of the people here.

PINSKY: First drink by 15 increases your risk of alcohol problems by eightfold.

WILDER-TAYLOR: Good to know.

KING: I love this title. "Nap Time is the New Happy Hour."


KING: "Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay." Discuss drinking around your kids. Why would you drink in front of kids?

WILDER-TAYLOR: Why wouldn't you? Just by itself, I don't see anything wrong with drinking around your kids, especially if you're modeling responsible drinking. And in fact, the drinking that kind of got me in trouble was the drinking I was doing after my kids were in bed, the drinking I was doing by myself, with my husband. You know, the kids go to bed, it's mama's time.

KING: How did you stop?

WILDER-TAYLOR: Sit on the couch, watch "Celebrity Rehab."

KING: How did you stop?

WILDER-TAYLOR: You know, I think for me I knew it was a problem for, you know, a while. It kind of gnaws on you. You get that voice in your head telling you, you know, this is a lot of wine to be drinking every night. Can't be good for me. Can't be good for my liver. You know, there came a point where I had this -- I really feel like there was a crack in the window, where I woke up one morning on my couch and I was really hung over. I had a fight with my husband the night before, which I couldn't remember. And I thought, you know, I have to stop. Like, I just made a decision right then and there I needed help.

KING: Have you been accused of glamorizing drinking?


KING: mother style?


KING: How do you answer that?

WILDER-TAYLOR: I think that if you're not an alcoholic, I don't think there's a reason why you shouldn't drink. Just because you're around your kids -- I mean, I take issue with the fact that people say, you know, well, how dare you have a glass of wine around your kids, or, you know -- I mean, yeah, you shouldn't be drunk around your kids. But I don't think I was ever saying, you know, go take a bunch of vicodin and have four glasses of wine and then parent your kids.

KING: Have you helped people stop, do you think?

WILDER-TAYLOR: I think so. I really think so. For me, I didn't have any idea how much attention it was going to get, just me saying that I stopped drinking. I said it on my blog was the first place. I felt like I wanted to be honest, and I felt like since I have made a living writing these books that talked about drinking and how funny it is, that, you know, I was lying if I didn't tell people, I made this decision to stop, and I have a problem. Well, you know, people just went crazy.

ARNOLD: Laughter is a great way to get to people. To deal with issues.

KING: Jane, what do you think of our friend here, Stefanie?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I think laughter is the ultimate intoxication. And that's why I enjoy recovery, is that I'm always laughing with my sober buddies. And when you're laughing, you're naturally high. So I think that really that is part of the solution.

You can't just replace drinking with not drinking. You have to put in something else, and you have to really find other choices, and humor is the biggest joy.

KING: Stefanie, can you write well when you're sober?

WILDER-TAYLOR: Well, I kind of thought I might have trouble writing sober. But yeah, I can. I just have to -- I don't think I ever wrote that well when I was actually drunk. I fell asleep when I was drunk.

KING: Do you think you play better trombone when you're high on marijuana?

PINSKY: People have studied that extensively. People think they're performing or acting better, but they're not.

WILDER-TAYLOR: I know I was drinking to regulate my moods. I know I had so much anxiety. I've always had anxiety. But being a mom kicked it up like five notches. I was definitely drinking to try to feel calm.

KING: Your newest book, "It's Not Me, It's You."


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I like that.

KING: Stefanie Wilder-Taylor, author of "It's Not Me, It's You." We're going to have her back. We'll be back with our regular panel right after this.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the record, a declarative statement, my wife had not taken any drugs that could harm her that morning. That morning, she woke up, she couldn't breathe. She went out to get some air. Sharon followed her out. I'll say this because I know you can, she said, mom, I'm dying, I love you.


KING: Brittany Murphy's cause of death -- we had her mother and her husband on -- community acquired pneumonia, iron deficiency, anemia, multiple drug intoxication. The LA county coroner concludes the subject of how injury occurred, drug intake. Why does it kill you?

PINSKY: Well, there's various ways it can kill you. It can kill you through the route of administration, introducing bacterial organisms, that sort of thing. For instance, Anna Nicole Smith had an abscess in her buttock that -- she was so scarred up from previous injections, didn't know it was there. She died.

In this case you can, for instance, not respond to the usual symptoms of pneumonia and start having depressed respirations and eventually succumb to the illness.

KING: You ever fear buying it?

ARNOLD: Well, I mean, I think you see -- here's a situation. I've seen it happen. I'm not going to name names. But well-known people -- I remember a kid couldn't sleep. Whatever, whatever, whatever. I finally said, you got to take a sleep test. I have. I use a CPAP machine. The next Tuesday you're supposed to take it, I was in a film festival. Got a call. This kid, perfect body, perfect whatever, he was self-medicating. He could not sleep. He didn't make it through the weekend. If he had gone Tuesday, he would have found out he wasn't getting the right kind of sleep and not had to medicate himself and not died. It's that close to all of us.

KING: Do you fear the effect of others, Mackenzie? Do you think you had an effect on your sister?


KING: Yeah. PHILLIPS: I've been reading a lot about people who are sort of laying Chynna's hospitalization at my feet. I think that certainly there's been a lot of stress in this family since "High on Arrival" came out. But I can't say my revelations about my father put Chynna in rehab. I do know that my addiction has had severe consequences with my loved ones. Absolutely.

KING: In the health area, Jane, do you ever fear cirrhosis of the liver?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, sure. Listen, there are so many health problems that are connected with alcohol abuse, like breast cancer, et cetera.

I want to say one thing, Larry. You know, our whole attitude toward drugs in this country is so mixed up. We're waging this huge, expensive taxpayer-funded war on illegal drugs, when people are keeling over left and right from legal prescription drugs. We have a prescription drug epidemic in this country that's not being recognized because the drug lobby is very tied in with the government. Basically, the lobbyists dictate to the government.

So we're locking up people for illegal drugs, when everybody's using the prescription drugs. And it's just bunk.

KING: Tom, do you think Charlie Sheen's problems were problems from addiction that would cause him to be violent?

ARNOLD: Well --

KING: Does addiction lead to violence?

ARNOLD: Yes. Addiction -- being drunk could lead to violence. It can. I'm not saying it was Charlie. I love Charlie. I know Charlie. I don't believe anything that I've read about what happened with Charlie. You know, I think he's been open about he and his father, about his situation. I know he's worked real hard on it. I've never heard any of the violence attached to it.

That's the thing. If you're like me, and people know you were once a drug addict -- they can Google my name -- they can accuse me of anything. If an ex-wife is accusing me of something in papers --

KING: You're susceptible.

ARNOLD: It doesn't matter. You are a target. Charlie Sheen is a very good target.

KING: Do you -- what Jane said about prescription drugs, is that a bigger problem?

PINSKY: Well, just look at what's happened to young Hollywood. You mentioned Brittany Murphy. That was a prescription medication death. Yes, we have an absolute problem with this. It's an epidemic. Where it's coming from, it's a little more complicated.

KING: What starts that? It's different from alcohol.

PINSKY: It's my peers. It may be plastic surgery. It may be a broken knee procedure. It may be who knows what. It may be coming in for anxiety, sleep disturbances. As Tom said, we have to be exquisitely careful with these extremely good -- remember, these medicines are extremely good, but they have potential to kill people. If we don't take that into account every time we prescribe it, we're going to kill more people.

KING: The number one thing people want to get rid of is pain.

PHILLIPS: Right. You see, people who are clean -- you know, the incidence of people losing their clean time by getting on some sort of medication for a dental surgery, for back pain -- I mean, I've seen people go -- that's what happened to me. You know --

PINSKY: You give Mackenzie a vicodin, she's going out. She may not be aware of it. It may but she will -- a few hours later, it will change her thinking. It will change her motivational system. And she'll be on her way. Doctors don't understand how powerful this biology is.

PHILLIPS: I recently had a procedure that in the past I would have taken pain medication for, and I absolutely refused and took Advil only.

ARNOLD: Do you have someone to talk to that's wiser than you?

PHILLIPS: I have so many people in my life.

ARNOLD: Right here like I do. I broke my back in a motorcycle wreck. I said, do they have medical cocaine I can have? He said no.

PHILLIPS: I said, what can I take?

KING: When I come back, I want to talk about coming clean and fear of returning, next.



KING: We're back with our panel. Dr. Pinsky, is coming clean always a good idea?

PINSKY: Is coming clean always a good idea? You mean trying to get off drugs and alcohol?

KING: No, talking about it.

PINSKY: No, not for everybody. When you can harm yourself or your family or someone else, you keep your mouth shut.

KING: Did it help you to come out, Tom?

ARNOLD: It did, but I did it very carefully. I didn't -- if I had, say, cheated on someone in my past past -- by cleansing my soul and telling them and hurting them again does no good. I write a letter, ask their forgiveness. I burn it. I tell someone else. But I don't want to harm other people.

KING: Did it help you, Mackenzie?

PHILLIPS: I believe writing on "High on Arrival" helped me immeasurably.

KING: Jane, help you?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Writing my book, "I Want," absolutely. I got to clarify my life and look at it sort of objectively. I've gotten hundreds of letters from people who say it's helped them get sober. This is a disease of amnesia. We will forget the way we were unless we constantly remind yourselves. That's why they say all we get is a daily reprieve.

KING: Do you want a drink or a something every day?

ARNOLD: I want to feel -- there are days I want to feel out of it. I want to feel nothing. I don't want to feel sad or scared.

KING: What do you to do suppress it?

ARNOLD: There's a list of things that if I do them all, I never feel that way. I get up in the morning; I exercise; I journal; I meditate; I call somebody; I do an act of service. By the time I've done all that, I don't have that feeling any more. Sometimes, you know, I'll wallow a little bit. And my wife will let me wallow for one hour in bed, you know, covers over head. Then she gets me up. She's a perfect wife. Gets me up. You've done it for 30 years. You can do it. Do something about it.

Then I get doing. Then I'm a man, so I really get going. I'm awesome. She's like, bring it back down. Bring it right here.

KING: Mackenzie, you ever think you're going back?

PHILLIPS: I don't. I don't. I feel like there were times in my previous clean time where I would think, you know, one day I'm going to be able to do this again. I don't think that way any more.

PINSKY: Tom, there's a list of things he does. I'll tell you the one thing that people that are not around this disease don't understand. The one thing on that list I think was the most important was the act of service. That keeps him sober that day.

KING: Jane, do you ever go to a party and want to take one?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: No. I'm really happy to say that the obsession to drink has been lifted. If I continue to work my recovery program, hopefully it will stay that way. Dr. Drew's absolutely right. It's about changing everything. They say the only thing that has to change is everything. You have to reorder your life. Instead of being about ego and fear, you have to be of service. I get down on my knees every day and pray, help me to be of service, to do something positive, to make life better for somebody else, or some other creature on this planet. That really is the spiritual sort of psychic shift that occurs when you get sober. This is a spiritual disease, and it requires a spiritual solution.

KING: Is it easy?

ARNOLD: The great thing about it is, one time you don't think about yourself. If I think about Tom Arnold, it gets pretty bad. But if I'm of service to some kid, I'll get a call -- I don't know who they are. They say, show up in Compton. If you do this, it will help this kid, whatever. I feel great because I'm not thinking about me. That's really what saved my life. Being of service is a real selfish thing. It's why I do what I do.

KING: You like helping others, Mackenzie?

PHILLIPS: I love helping other people. Like, it gets you out of your own head.

KING: That's a reward, too?

PHILLIPS: Yes, absolutely.

KING: We're going to find out what you should do if you or someone you know needs help. We'll ask Dr. Drew if there's a magic bullet. First, our CNN hero of the week is a retired luxury home builder, moved by the sacrifice of our troops overseas. With more than 30,000 there returning injured from Iraq and Afghanistan, Dan Wallrath decided to help them rebuild their lives, literally. Watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Baghdad ended up being a hell of a ride. I sustained a very severe blast injury. My life just came to a complete halt.

DAN WALLRATH, CNN HERO: How are you doing? How's everything? You look sharp today.


WALLRATH: I've been building custom homes for 30 years. One of the most important things for a family is a home. I want you to read the sign for me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Future home of sergeant Alexander Reyes, united states army.

WALLRATH: Congratulations. Giving these folks a new home means the world.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just thank you. That's all I can say.

WALLRATH: My name is Dan WALLRATH. We built homes for returning heroes from Iraq and Afghanistan. The houses are mortgage free. It changes the whole family's life.


WALLRATH: It gives them just a new start so that they can move forward. These young men and women are doing this for you and me. How can I not help them?



KING: Tom Arnold, you know someone you're pretty sure has a problem, what do you do?

ARNOLD: Here's the thing. With young people, they're the hardest. Because young people are immortal. They're invincible. They can't imagine the rest of their life. They're 16, 15, 17; they can't imagine the rest of their lives, which is why we say, think about today.

You try anything you can. One thing I do is a lot of them are vegetarians and they care about the environment and they're politically correct. I say, you know, that cocaine you snorted, where did that come from? What kind of a death trail did that have getting to the United States? Because you're responsible for that, too. You know, that's worse than burning a forest down, because somebody probably died getting that stuff here. So you are responsible.

That doesn't always work. But, you know, getting them to a point where they understand that kids get depressed now. I think since 9/11, especially, the whole world has been a little bit of a funk. And getting them to believe that it's not going to last forever, and you don't have to take your own life. And the truth is -- and I'm going to say this. It may not be appropriate. But in every city in this country, there are 12-step meetings. You don't have to be an addict. If you're so down and it's Valentine's or New Year's Eve, and you're by yourself and thinking about killing yourself because you don't mean anything, you go in -- look up one of those meetings, show up, stand up, say how you feel. Twenty people will help you.

KING: Does addiction lead to depression, Mackenzie?

PHILLIPS: I think that it's possible.

KING: They're associated, aren't they?

PHILLIPS: Well, apparently, yeah. I've never really had a depression problem, although I've felt down in the dumps, my little pity parties.

ARNOLD: When you come off you're depressed bad.

KING: Jane, when you see someone you think has a problem, what do you do?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you can only really help somebody who wants to help themselves. You can't force anybody to hit bottom. It's like you can take a horse to water but can't make him drink. If you think they want to help, you can tell them about recovery. I mean, recovery is there. Any moment you want it, you can get it.

KING: Do you favor interventions?

PINSKY: Interventions can work. They get people into and through treatment.

KING: Get the whole family?

PINSKY: Get them together.

KING: Realization.

PINSKY: Get the family involved in the treatment process.

KING: Are we ever going to have a magic bullet?

PINSKY: There will never be a magic bullet. This is a disease that has a biological component. We will do better with that biology. But there is emotional and spiritual elements to this disease.

KING: How about a vaccine?

PINSKY: The vaccines and those sorts of things will reduce the biological proclivity. But there will never be a single agent that treats the entirety.

KING: How about gene alteration?

PINSKY: Again, it will reduce the proclivity, and people will be less likely to throw themselves into the addictive process. Once there, no pills will bring them back.

KING: By those things advancing, won't it get better?

PINSKY: It will get better. Our treatment will get better.

KING: There will be less percentage of addiction tomorrow than today.

PINSKY: If we're lucky.

PHILLIPS: Science may one day accomplish this, but it hasn't done so yet.

ARNOLD: Seventy five years ago, a man, Bill Wilson, wrote a book, "The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous." And it is so unusual -- here's a program that costs nothing and strangers will gladly reach out and help you for nothing, at any time night or day, because it helps them. There's nothing like it in the world.

KING: There was a great film, "James Garner and James Woods."

ARNOLD: I saw it in rehab and loved it. PINSKY: Let me get back to biological interventions. They will help make recovery possible. It will be easier to get people into this magical process we call recovery.

KING: Jane, are you optimistic about -- you're optimistic about yourself. About others, too?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. I mean, the world is learning about all these recovery programs. You know, alcoholism goes way back. It's referenced to in the Bible. We're in the first era, really, where people have a solution. And the solution is the 12-steps. It really is a miracle.

KING: Almost out of time.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It can be applied all sorts of addictions.

KING: Did the Michael Jackson thing helped people?

PINSKY: It elevated the conversation.

KING: That should help if you elevate the conversation.

PINSKY: Shows like this, talking about these things, that's why I come out and talk about them.

KING: We thank all of our guests. Dr. Drew Pinsky, his new program is "Sober House," Tom Arnold, the host and producer of a wonderful show called "Kid Pitch." My two boys are in it. It's on Fox Sports Net. Mackenzie Phillips, her book is "High on Arrival." Jane Velez-Mitchell, her book is "I Want My Journey From Addiction and Over-Consumption to a Simpler, Honest Life."

Thanks for joining us. The news is next on CNN.