Moms Who Drink Too Much | The Oprah Winfrey Show | Oprah Winfrey Network

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Moms Who Drink Too Much | The Oprah Winfrey Show | Oprah Winfrey Network


MUSIC OPRAH WINFREY: If you’re a mom who likes a glass of wine or more, watch this. AMANDA: Hi. WINFREY: A bold experiment. Cameras record a girls’ night out. ELIZABETH: You know, I’m finishing my sixth drink. Keep it coming. WINFREY: What being drunk really looks like. Then her desperate video diary. SARAH: I feel like I’m going to puke. Hold on. I’m going to get sick. WINFREY: A mom spinning out of control. Have you seen yourself drunk before? Tonight, in millions of American homes, the scene will probably look something like this. Mom is frazzled. She’s had a hectic day of school pick-ups and soccer practice. Finally, the kids are asleep and now it’s her time– cocktail hour. It may even be just a couple glasses of wine. Maybe more. But this is how she will unwind. It’s estimated that for millions of moms across the country, the need to escape with a little alcohol has now crossed the line. Have you crossed the line? How many drinks is considered normal? What should have you worried? Well, our first mom started as a social drinker but says these days keeping her excessive drinking a secret is becoming a full-time job. Take a look. SARAH: I never, ever pictured that my life would be this way. WINFREY: Sarah grew up in a loving home. She was a star tennis player and homecoming queen in high school, but her life now is nothing like the bright future she’d once dreamed for herself. SARAH: I didn’t picture the drinking having such control in my life. WINFREY: Sarah is now divorced with two young children. She agreed to show us just how much alcohol has taken over her nights and sometimes even her days. Unidentified Child: Come on! SARAH: Come on, guys. Time for school. It takes a lot of work to get two kids off to school. Things that seem little aren’t little. I can leave the house and feel like I’ve already put in a full day’s work. WINFREY: Sarah says after particularly stressful mornings, her drinking might start as soon as her kids are out of the door. SARAH: After I drop my daughter off at preschool, sometimes I come over and I pick up a six-pack, 12-pack of beer. I know I’ve started drinking as early as 10:00 before. WINFREY: She says even something like taking her kids to the park makes her want to drink. SARAH: There have been times that it’s a beautiful day, and I know that the right thing to do is take my kids to the park. And in order to get the motivation to go, I’ll take a cup and pour alcohol into it because I know that I’ll enjoy the park more. And I like it because I feel more childlike. SARAH: All right. Let’s see that big swing. Let’s see you swing as fast as you can. Come on. WINFREY: As her days wind down, Sarah often sneaks off to her bedroom to catch a quick buzz to unwind from a hectic day. SARAH: This is my bedroom. This is where I usually drink, my safe haven. I’ll stash the bottles under my bed so nobody can see. If my kids are taking a bath, I’ve got a clear shot right to the bathtub. It’s just perfect enough where the position– I can put the beer back here so they don’t see me when I lean back and take a sip. WINFREY: Even though she appears young and full of life, Sarah says her heavy drinking is taking its toll. SARAH: Probably one of my saddest days of being a mom, I had drank so heavily the night before, my son came to wake me up. It was the worst feeling to not be able to get my son to school because I could not physically get up and get out of bed. WINFREY: But even that’s not enough to stop Sarah from pouring her next drink. SARAH: Before I drink, I feel like my skin is crawling. I feel extremely uncomfortable, overwhelmed. I feel frustrated, stressed, frazzled, and I just want the calm of the buzz. WINFREY: So when did this start for you? When did it start? SARAH: I started drinking after high school. Real straight in high school–super perfectionistic, into tennis, very religious and was very against drinking. And after I graduated, I was sick of being the good girl. I wanted to see, `What am I missing? What is this? What is this fun that everybody’s having?’ And the first time I drank beer, I blacked out. WINFREY: So when did you start drinking at home with your kids or th–has that always been… SARAH: No. WINFREY: …the case? Yeah. SARAH: I swore I’d never, ever be a mom who drank, let alone drink alone. I used to hear those stories and say, `That is just so sad. How could you not quit for your kids?’ And I would say in the last year, I’ve gotten to the place where I’m drinking alone at home. WINFREY: And drinking alone a lot. SARAH: A lot. WINFREY: Do you think you’re an alcoholic? SARAH: I do. I think I’m an alcoholic. It’s a hard one to say. WINFREY: Is that the first time you’ve said that to yourself? SARAH: It’s not the first time I’ve said it, but I’ve gone back on it. I try to find a way to say, `Well, maybe I’m just a problem drinker,’ or, `Maybe I need to eat a little bit more before,’ but no matter how hard for the last 13 years I’ve tried to control this, it’s gripped me. WINFREY: Yeah. SARAH: I don’t have control. WINFREY: Especially if you’re–you–you were saying in the tape that your skin is crawling before and you have to drink to make yourself calm down to even feel better. SARAH: That–that is exactly it. My skin is just crawling, especially when I’ve put in a–a full event, whether it’s teaching school, teaching tennis, getting the kids off. There gets to be a point where it’s, like, `I can’t wear this mask anymore of pleasantness,’ and I want so badly to be pleasant to those in my life and–and giving. And I get to a point where I can feel that I am just getting–I am so uncomfortable with the emotions inside, which I k–logically know are very human emotions–stress, frustration, exhaustion–and I logically know the right things I should do, but what I really want to calm it quickly is the alcohol, and I can feel the tingle. I would say after about two drinks, I can literally feel going from the skin crawling to just this warm tingle come through me. WINFREY: Well, Sarah gave us permission to install a camera in her home, and so we’re going to take a look at her revealing video diary. SARAH: Hi. Sunday night. I’ve–I’m on my fifth beer, and I do feel buzzed tonight. I feel calm. It’s Wednesday and–about 11:40. I feel like I’m going to puke ’cause I drank 12–12 beers last night. Hold on. I’m going to get sick. Oh, God. Hi. It’s Thursday night, and I’m really psyched. My kids are going on a little trip with their dad. It feels like reward time–reward time for me. This is my fourth drink. I’ve had three beers and–two beers, and then I had a screwdriver. God, if I could only feel this good all the time. Four drinks in, five drinks in, whoo, like I am right now, it’s so comfortable. M’m. All right. I’m not doing this. It’s 7:30 in the morning. I mean, I’m going to have to get this together. I cannot go into work intoxicated. I mean, I’m still buzzed! Whew! Who’s cheering who now? WINFREY: So have you seen yourself drunk before? SARAH: Never seen myself drunk before. It’s not too pretty. WINFREY: So, obviously, you’re here because this is a cry for help for you. You, obviously, are willing to face–the fact that you let us put a camera in your house, you have been so candid with the producers, means you’re ready to face this. SARAH: Oh, I wa–I want a–I want a new chapter. WINFREY: You want a new chapter. SARAH: I want a new–I want a new chapter in my life… WINFREY: OK. SARAH: …and I don’t want–my kids are at an age now where I feel like I–they can know me most of their life at seven and four as a sober mom, that would be a dream for me, but not just to be sober and miserable, to learn to have some joy and peace without the alcohol… WINFREY: Because how much… SARAH: …the sobriety. WINFREY: …how much joy and peace are you having right now, beca–because this is the interesting thing. You talk to any children who grew up with alcoholic mothers, they always knew. You think you’re hiding this from your kids? Do you think you’re hiding this from your kids? SARAH: I don’t think I’m hiding it anymore. My son’s caught on. WINFREY: Even though you tell them there–there–that there’s diet iced tea in the cup? SARAH: Diet iced tea and my son is a very good smeller. And I just quickly move it aside. Or, `Mom, that smells like beer on your breath.’ And I’ve actually got as far to tell him, `You don’t know what beer smells like.’ I’m so in denial to think that he hasn’t smelled that on me before. WINFREY: Yeah, you are. SARAH: I mean, that’s denial. WINFREY: Denial. Yeah, ’cause your kids know. You’re not hiding this from your kids. SARAH: No. WINFREY: Next, how bad is Sarah’s problem with alcohol? What is she risking with her own children? I know that there are probably millions of you who are watching who grew up with mothers in denial. You could tell her, but for the first time, she faces an expert to hear the truth. We’ll be right back. [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC] [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC] SARAH: I guess if I can have one wish, it would be that I could beat this (censored) problem. I want to be able to take my kids to the park. I want be to be able to take my kids swimming and not feel like I need a buzz to do it. I want to be able to someday have a social life where I can go out and dance sober and feel good in my skin. My messages for people who might see this and say, `You know, that’s pathetic. Why doesn’t she stop? She has it all.’ I’ve tried. I’ve tried. I’ll keep trying. I don’t want to be a mom who drinks. I’m just tired of the grip it has on me. I’m tired. I don’t want to think about it anymore. WINFREY: How old are you? SARAH: I’m 30. WINFREY: You’re 30. OK. It’s estimated that nearly five million American women have crossed the line when it comes to drinking. And you just saw Sarah, who is a divorced mom of two– You’ve been divorced how long?… SARAH: Four years. WINFREY: …who agreed to keep a video diary about her daily relationship with alcohol, and she says that hiding this secret, which I was just saying to her, for everybody who thinks you’re hiding it from your children, you’re not, but she says that hiding the secret has become a full-time job. So you feel like you are a more loving mom after you’ve had a few drinks? Do you think… SARAH: I think that’s an illusion I have. I don’t think on the outside that I am. But on the inside, I feel calmer. I feel like the 300-toy pieces on the toy room that I just picked up yesterday, I can go in there and say, `Kids, let’s work on this,’ or–it puts a little–it takes the edge off. I want to keep the appearance of… WINFREY: Perfection? SARAH: Yeah, the happy mom who’s not losing it. WINFREY: OK. SARAH: I’m going to ha… WINFREY: Debra Jay was a counselor at the world-renowned Hazelden treatment center. She, Debra Jay, is an addiction specialist and says that Sarah’s problem is much bigger than she realizes. Tell her–tell her the truth. Ms. DEBRA JAY: The truth is you’re right. You are an alcoholic. There’s no doubt about it, and I work with alcoholics all the time. It was hard for me to watch that. It was painful for me to watch it, and I want to tell you something. When you said you had a blackout the very first time you drank, you have never had a normal relationship with alcohol. A lot of alcoholics will tell you, `I was an alcoholic from my first drink,’ and, Sarah, so are you. So are you. But I want to say it’s not… WINFREY: Because blacking out is not a normal relationship. Ms. JAY: Blacking out is not a normal relationship. If you’re blacking out when you drink, you have an alcohol problem. That’s a symptom… WINFREY: Whether it’s the first time… Ms. JAY: Whether it’s the first time… WINFREY: …the fifth time… Ms. JAY: …the fifth time… WINFREY: …whenever. Ms. JAY: …you are an alcoholic if you’re having blackouts. WINFREY: OK. Ms. JAY: OK. That’s the bottom line. So when you have a blackout the very first time you drink and you continue to drink, you have a problem and that’s an early onset. To have a problem at 30 like this, you need to do something, because you’re going to be dead by 40. This is a serious problem. It’s not about wanting to get help. It’s just about doing it, just taking that step and getting the right level of help so you can be successful. WINFREY: Tell her how she’s setting up her kids for a lifetime of confusion. Ms. JAY: What is happening with your kids, your alcoholism is changing who they are. Every single day, Sarah, they are living in a little war zone. They do not know from one minute to the next what’s going to happen with Mom. WINFREY: Right. Ms. JAY: OK. So it’s like living with a tiger in the house and you’re watching that tiger all the time. That tiger is asleep. You’re watching that tiger, because you never know what that tiger’s going to do next. And so, like, your little boy, he’s having to grow up and not even have a childhood ’cause he’s got to be your parent. He’s got to wake you up in the morning. He’s probably taking care of his little sister. And people think, `Oh, well, isn’t he responsible?’ No, you know what he feels–he’s going to grow up to feel like always outside, pleasing everyone, taking care of everyone. Inside, he’s going to be a little guy who says, `I’m not worth anything. No one will ever love me. If they knew who I was, they’d never like me.’ SARAH: I don’t want that. Ms. JAY: He’ll never let people close to him. SARAH: I don’t want that. Ms. JAY: No, of course, I know you don’t want that. SARAH: I want to turn it around now. Why wait? Why wait for the–the big yet? You know… Ms. JAY: Yeah. SARAH: …I haven’t gotten–haven’t had this happen yet. WINFREY: Why wait for the bottom because a lot of times people say you have to hit bottom? Do you have to hit bottom? Ms. JAY: No, no. Absolutely not. And when we’re talking about hitting bottom, first of all, what people don’t talk about is the family hits bottom along with the alcoholic. OK. The kids are going to hit bottom, too. That’s just not OK. But alcoholics tend to hit lots of bot–bottoms. They hit a bottom, they bounce back up. They hit another bottom. So it’s years of personal tragedy and you don’t know. Three hundred and fifty people f–every day die of this disease. That’s their bottom… WINFREY: Yeah. Ms. JAY: …and that’s a bottom with no bounce. So what we really want to do is get to you early on in the–and–and so you don’t have all these tragedies… SARAH: I don’t want them. Ms. JAY: …some of them that you can never make up for again. So let’s stop it now before these things happen. WINFREY: Explain to the people who are watching, ’cause every time you do a show about alcoholism or addiction, I know that there are millions of people out there, first of all, who don’t drink. You know, my fr–girlfriend Gayle is, like, `What does it do to you? What does it feel? Why do you have to drink the’–and this is ’cause I had a shot of tequila, `Why do you need that? OK.’ So–`and what are you feeling now? Are you feeling a little crazy?’ So–but there are people… Ms. JAY: Yes. WINFREY: …who do not understand, number one, why it is a disease… Ms. JAY: Right. WINFREY: …why it is a disease… Ms. JAY: Oh, it’s very confusing. WINFREY: …and also do not understand why–why she just can’t stop it. Ms. JAY: Yeah. WINFREY: Why can’t she just stop it? Ms. JAY: Right. JAY: It’s very hard. You know, people think, `Well, it’s a choice.’ SARAH: Yeah. WINFREY: OK. WINFREY: Yeah. Ms. JAY: Well, drinking is a choice. WINFREY: Drinking is a choice. Ms. JAY: Drinking is a choice. So for anybody who drinks, that’s a choice. WINFREY: Correct. Ms. JAY: So you can be drinking. All of a sudden, you don’t see it happening. You know, someone said to me, `Where’s the line?’ There’s no big yellow line that… WINFREY: Yeah. Ms. JAY: …we walk over and it’s alcoholism. WINFREY: Sarah, we’re going to follow up with you and Debra is going to work with you after the show and we’ll be following you. I–I–I–I love to hear that you are now willing to take responsibility for it and I’m going to hold you to it and you said it in front of millions of people. We’re going to hold you to it… SARAH: Thank you. WINFREY: …because your kids deserve that… SARAH: Yes, they do. WINFREY: …and you deserve that. Next, three moms who like to unwind with cocktails at night who want to know where they stand. Where is the line? Do they have a drinking problem? And these stay-at-home moms get a rare look at themselves drunk. OK. As Sarah was saying, she’d never seen herself drunk. I think everybody needs to see a tape of themselves. How do you act after a few drinks? We all think that we’re just more delightful, but let’s see. Let’s see. We’ll be right back. [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC] [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC] WINFREY: So if you unwind at night with a cocktail or two or three, this is a show you should be watching, because we’ll tell you the important questions to ask yourself to find out if your drinking has crossed the line. The three moms you’re about to meet are talking honestly for the first time about their drinking. I know many of you will relate to their stories. Take a look. CHRISTINE: On average, I have two glasses of wine a night. Sometimes I’ve had as much as five or six. AMBER: I pretty much drink every night, anywhere from on average about two glasses of wine a night. TRACY: I probably drink three nights a week. On a normal night, I probably have five drinks. AMBER: I drink because I’m bored. It makes me a better mom, especially when I’m really edgy. CHRISTINE: It’s a way to relax after a stressful day with the kids. I think the kids enjoy my company a little bit better after I’ve had a glass or t–or two, also. AMBER: I try not to drink before 5, and I try not to drink more than one or two glasses when my children are awake. TRACY: I’m really concerned what my friends think about my drinking. There are certain groups of friends that we socialize with that I do feel out of place with because I tend to drink more than they do. AMBER: I am hoping that someone can tell me, you know, if I have three drinks, you’re OK, if I have four drinks, you’re not OK. I want somebody to tell me exactly where that line is. WINFREY: OK. Debra says women who don’t have a problem don’t have to make up rules about drinking. Ms. JAY: That’s right. If you don’t have a problem, you never even think about making up a rule. But when you do, you start setting up little rules for yourself so it can look like you’re drinking like everybody else, that your drinking is normal, and what happens is you find that you keep breaking your own rules. WINFREY: OK. And I see you’re frowning because of that. You don’t like that? AMBER: No, I totally disagree. AMBER: I think anybody who’s going to be responsible, whether it be with prescription drugs or alcohol or anything to–anything different, I think that any responsible parent or person needs to have a boundary up or it’s a free-for-all. WINFREY: OK. JAY: You know, it isn’t really, not with somebody who doesn’t have a problem. They don’t even have to think about it. They just really can use it responsibly. What I’m talking about is internally, inside of yourself. It’s–you know, it’s 2:00 and I’m thinking, `Boy, I really want that glass of wine,’ and I’m looking at my clock and I’m thinking, `I’ve got three hours to 5 and I’ve got to hold on. I’ve got to hold on.’ You see, that’s something completely different. Now I’m feeling all this emotional unmanageability inside of myself trying to keep that rule. Somebody who–they’re not going to be thinking at 2:00 about what they’re drinking at 5:00 if they don’t have a problem. WINFREY: Well, wait a minute. Ms. JAY: That’s what I’m talking about. WINFREY: What if you just had the drink at 2:00 if you want it? Ms. JAY: Well… WINFREY: You know, I’m asking. WINFREY: Is there–is that a problem if you drink at 2:00… Ms. JAY: No. And I’m not going to–I’m not going to–no, I don’t think that it’s necessarily a problem. I mean, there can be people who have… JAY: No. WINFREY: …because it’s 5:00 somewhere in the world? Ms. JAY: Yeah. But, I mean–no. WINFREY: No, but I’m just saying… Ms. JAY: No. Yeah. No. I mean, that’s a really legitimate and good question. WINFREY: Yeah. Ms. JAY: But there are going to be people who say, `Well, I’ve had a glass of wine at 2:00.’ WINFREY: Yeah! Ms. JAY: Well, hey, yeah, I think that’s happened, and I think it’s perfectly fine for a lot of people… WINFREY: Yeah. Ms. JAY: …OK?–’cause it’s not about when you’re drinking. WINFREY: When should you be asking yourself if you’ve got… Ms. JAY: Right. WINFREY: …you’re saying the fact that you have to say, `I’m going to only do it after 5… Ms. JAY: Right. WINFREY: …means that it could be a problem. Ms. JAY: Yeah. And usually it’s not just going to be that rule. There are going to be lots of little rules around, `When I’m with my kids,’ and this and that. `You know, I’m going to have lots of little rules.’ WINFREY: Are you an alcoholic–se–you’re an alcoholic because your–your body has a predisposition for the way it handles alcohol. OK. Is it considered alcoholism if it hasn’t hurt anybody yet? Ms. JAY: You know, very, very early on, we can’t–it’s probably not going to hurt anybody. It’s progressive and there are certain stages. So as it moves forward, it starts hurting people. JAY: Yeah. WINFREY: So I’m saying you’re still functioning… WINFREY: …everybody’s… Ms. JAY: We’re not going to see it. WINFREY: OK. Ms. JAY: No, we’re not going to see it. JAY: No one will know it’s there yet. WINFREY: OK. But… WINFREY: …you can still be an alcoholic. Ms. JAY: You can still be an alcoholic, and usually before anyone notices on the outside, you start having changes on how you feel about it on the inside. WINFREY: Like what? WINFREY: Really? Ms. JAY: Yeah. JAY: Well, just–just again, preoccupation with it, really thinking about it a lot. Most people aren’t preoccupied with alcohol. They’re not thinking about it. But people early on, they might look normal on the outside but, boy, they really like those drinking events a lot better than the dry events, for instance. That would be a little bit of a red flag. Does it mean you’re an alcoholic? Not necessarily but it’s a red flag. WINFREY: OK. And you say if Tracy starts avoiding certain friends because of her drinking, she should be worried. Ms. JAY: I would be very worried. I would be very worried. What’s going to happen is if your drinking is out of sync with your friends, you’re drinking a lot more than what your friends are drinking, you’re going to start feeling uncomfortable around them and they’re going to be feeling uncomfortable around you. They’re going to be talking behind your back probably. They’re concerned about you. Oftentimes what I see as it progresses, your good friends fall away and you find new friends that are drinking like you’re drinking. So now instead of friends, you have drinking buddies, and you’re slipping down the social scale. WINFREY: OK. We’ll be right back. Next, with our cameras rolling, these moms drank over 50 drinks in just two hours. For the first time, they’re going to see themselves drunk as they can be. We’ll be right back. [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC] [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC] WINFREY: So these Texas moms are like a lot of moms out there who have girls’ night out and they say it’s a chance to get away from the kids, get away from the laundry, the cooking, the cleaning. And these moms do not–let me emphasize–have a problem with alcohol but are here to help us with an experiment. They agreed to let us tape them at happy hour to see how alcohol changed their behavior. So we sent them to a bar lab–a fun assignment, huh? –bar lab on the campus of the University of Texas in Austin, and Dr. Kim Fromme monitored and tested them as they drank. Now this is good for everybody to see ’cause a lot of people think that they can drink and then get in the car and drive. I hope this will prevent that from now on. Take a look. WINFREY: Our moms arrived at the bar lab sober and ready to drink, something they say many of them do at least once a month together. Woman: (In unison) Cheers. Unidentified Woman #1: I like to have a few drinks now and then. It takes away the stress from staying at home with my two kids. ELIZABETH: I’d like to say that I just have a couple of drinks, but when I go out with the girls and I am away from the husband and the kid, four, five, maybe six. WINFREY: The experiment let these moms drink as much as they want for two hours and see how their personalities, motor skills and judgment change. Unidentified Woman #2: When I’m drunk, I act more lively, more fun, more talkative for sure. AMANDA: Definitely when I’ve had a few, I get a little touchy feely. I love to love on people. ELIZABETH: I feel happier and sexier and I’m flipping my hair more, and when I come home, I’m a little more revved up to be with my husband. So mom’s night out is good for everybody. WINFREY: As the bartender started pouring the alcohol, Dr. Kim Fromme kept an eye on the mothers. Dr. KIM FROMME: One of the most noticeable things to me is how the noise level has picked up. Unidentified Woman #3: This is my second drink. AMANDA: She’s going to be drunk in five minutes and on the floor. WINFREY: It didn’t take long for them to let loose. AMANDA: Whoo. WINFREY: Within 15 minutes, some of our volunteers started doing shots. AMANDA: Whoo! One margarita, which was very good, one shot of tequila, and I’m spilling drinks. WINFREY: OK. As the night went on with our cameras rolling, our moms kept drinking. Take a look. Unidentified Woman #4: I think you’re drunk, honey. WINFREY: After several drinks, our mom volunteers are clearly starting to feel the effects of alcohol. Unidentified Woman #3: I want my mommy. ELIZABETH: You know, at this point, I forgot that I have a kid and a husband. No, I mean… Ms. FROMME: It’s time to fill out some more paperwork. WINFREY: Watch as Amanda tries to fill out a simple survey after six drinks. AMANDA: I used to teach first grade but now I can’t hardly read. I’m having a hard time staying in the lines, but I’m doing good. How are you? WINFREY: With just 30 minutes to go, Elizabeth shows no signs of slowing down. ELIZABETH: So I’m finishing my sixth drink. Keep it flowing. Keep it coming. Unidentified Woman #3: I’m really hot, though. Like, I am all about the air coming on. ELIZABETH: Damn, your hair is long. WINFREY: When the two hours of drinking are up, most of our moms feel more than just a buzz. AMANDA: Hi. Unidentified Woman #4: I’m up on a little cloud. I’m happy. WINFREY: And some clearly have had enough. Unidentified Woman #1: I definitely feel like I’ve had too much to drink. After the last margarita, I’ve–I’ve sort of crossed the line. WINFREY: Then Dr. Fromme does a Breathalyzer test on our moms. In most states, .08 is considered legally drunk. Dr. FROMME: Take a deep breath. ELIZABETH: If I’d taken my car and I was out somewhere, I’d probably take a couple deep breaths, you know, get some fresh air, and then I’d probably drive. WINFREY: Elizabeth is twice the legal limit. ELIZABETH: OK. That’s–that’s definitely higher than I thought it would be. I mean, I know I feel a little bit wobbly, tipsy, but I think, you know, give me my car, focus… Dr. FROMME: A few deep breaths. ELIZABETH: …a few deep breaths, I could get there. Unidentified Woman #1: I feel like I could drive home right now. Dr. FROMME: So you’re about double legal intoxication. You’re at .085. Unidentified Woman #5: So I’m over. Dr. FROMME: Just over. Unidentified Woman #5: I would drive right now unfortunately. Unidentified Woman #6: Before I had my Breathalyzer test, I–I felt like I would be OK to drive. Dr. FROMME: .102. Unidentified Woman #6: I still feel like I’m in control. WINFREY: And after admitting they feel sober enough to drive, watch what happens when they try to keep their balance during the straight-line test. After 10 drinks, even Elizabeth is confident she can do it. ELIZABETH: Nine steps, OK? Unidentified Man: OK. Whenever you’re ready to begin. Heel to toe. ELIZABETH: I can’t believe I can’t walk this line! WINFREY: Well, you should never get in a car. So everybody knows that. Dr. FROMME: Yeah. WINFREY: I mean, I think that is the lesson for–for all of you–Right? –because you thought you could have. Who thought you could have? You thought you could have? Unidentified Woman #1: Yes. WINFREY: You thought you could have? ELIZABETH: Well, yes, I have to say that I–I probably thought I could have. I–I’ve heard all the statistics and I know the–you know, the 5’2″ woman who weighs 120 pounds can drink one drink. Well, I’m 5’8″ and I’m not 120 pounds. WINFREY: Not 120 pounds, yeah. ELIZABETH: So… WINFREY: Yeah. ELIZABETH: …I guess I’ve given myself license to say, `Well, I can drink more than that, and if you focus, you can do it,’ is the–kind of the thought. WINFREY: Oy. ELIZABETH: I mean, after seeing that, I definitely–it’s a scary realization. It was scary that night, too. I mean, I know it shows me kind of laughing, but I have had a few drinks. But when I thought about it later, it’s–it’s frightening to think that I would have… WINFREY: Yeah. ELIZABETH: …had I been out by myself or, you know, on a mom’s night and had to drive, that I probably would have gone, `Oh, you know, I don’t want to wake my husband up. I’ll–I’ll drive myself.’ WINFREY: And what did you think? Unidentified Woman #1: Oh, same thing, yeah. I definitely–I would have driven home. It was kind of scary to think that I would have been, you know, a danger on the road, because I felt completely in control. I felt like I had all my senses, but apparently, I didn’t. WINFREY: Yeah. Unidentified Woman #1: Yeah. WINFREY: And I’m really glad you guys c–volunteered to do this. I mean, fun assignment. But, you know, I–I have talked to so many people who’ve lost their children, their mother, their father, their, you know, brother from a drunk driver, and I just think we all–if not–nothing else, from this lesson, have a responsibility to ourselves, our own families and to those who’ve lost their lives. That’s why it’s happened. And this is–you know, I’m not trying to lecture anybody, but tha–that’s why it happens is so that we can get that lesson. And so watching you all, I hope, will let everybody out there know that y–that you ju–you just really can’t do it. Everybody thinks that they’re still in control, but you’re not. Why do–why do we think we’re in control? Ms. JAY: Well, because alcohol, the first thing it does is hit the part of the brain that is about self-observation. It’s the first part of the brain it hits. It dismantles our ability to self-observe. WINFREY: Oh, does it? Ms. JAY: Yeah. WINFREY: Oh, that’s why everybody who says… Ms. JAY: Yeah. WINFREY: …I’m so much more fun, they really are just more drunk. Ms. JAY: They’re just more drunk, ’cause you can see as this went on–I hate to tell you guys, but you did not look more attractive. WINFREY: Everybody thinks they’re more sexy… Ms. JAY: Yeah. WINFREY: …and more fun and more whatever. Ms. JAY: Yeah. WINFREY: No. Ms. JAY: But you really can’t tell. You can’t. So that’s why when we’re talking about people drinking and knowing when to say when… WINFREY: Yeah. Ms. JAY: …uh-uh, ’cause that’s all been dismantled. So–also for somebody who’s an alcoholic and we think they should just get it together, they can’t. WINFREY: They can’t. Ms. JAY: They can’t. WINFREY: OK. We’ll be right back. Next, she says she doesn’t have a problem with alcohol. Her husband says she does. Who will win this debate? Our expert weighs in. We’ll be right back. WINFREY: Is it OK to have a couple glasses of wine every night? Is that a problem? Belinda says her daily cocktail time is sacred, interesting word, and helps melt away her stress, but her husband does not agree. Take a look. BELINDA: Every day after work, I come home, I unwind by having a glass of wine, and then I may have another one before bedtime. WINFREY: Belinda says she drinks about three glasses of wine a night. Even though she doesn’t think it’s a problem, her husband Gwaine does. GWAINE: When she drinks, her personality changes. She becomes more confrontational, more agitated, and I just don’t want to be around her. It has been a constant battle in our marriage, but I found that I’ve lost the battle. WINFREY: Belinda’s drinking causes a lot of tension. Our cameras captured their teen-age son being put in the middle of one of Belinda and Gwaine’s discussions about her drinking. BELINDA: Every single time we sit here and have dinner, you see me drink wine. GWAINE: Every time I see you sit there at the table with dinner with a… BELINDA: Every time. GWAINE: …I see a glass beside you. BELINDA: Hello. Oh, Brian, every single time. BRIAN: I don’t know. I don’t remember. BELINDA: Brian is the kind of child where he’s going to go along with whatever Dad says. GWAINE: No. BELINDA: …he goes like that. GWAINE: No. BELINDA: You know, whatever Dad says… GWAINE: No. I don’t think I’m being judgmental, but maybe in a way I am, but not unconsciously. What do you think, Brian? Do you think I’m being judgmental? Do you think I’m, like, judging her all the time kind of thing or… BRIAN: I think you just express your opinion on it. BELINDA: The more he nags, it makes me feel like I should just continue on. See, I’m the kind of person, like, if you nag me and bug me to do something, I’ll do the opposite. WINFREY: We’ll talk to Belinda and Gwaine when we come back. [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC] [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC] WINFREY: What’s going on here, Debra? Ms. JAY: One of the first rules is if somebody thinks you have a problem with alcohol, you probably do. One of the things we say to people is, `If you don’t know you have a problem, look around you. If somebody close is having a problem, is this affecting your marriage?’ It’s the first place it’s gonna hit home. Even ma–it’s not going to hit your job for a long time after it hits your marriage. And my question to people is: What’s so really important about alcohol? Why is it so sacred to you? And–and you’ll even–you’ll make it your first relationship. I think that might be going on. What happens in your house when you start drinking? Are the two of you together? Do you hang together? Do you send–split apart? What goes on between the two of you? Do you argue? BELINDA: Well, we–basically, we’ll start together because I feel like I should be able to have a drink of w–have a glass of wine and just–you know, in my home. GWAINE: No, I don’t drink. WINFREY: Do you drink? Do–do you drink? WINFREY: You don’t drink. BELINDA: Yeah, see, Gwaine… WINFREY: Yeah. BELINDA: …he doesn’t drink at all. And he–he was raised in a home where there was an alcoholic, so if he–it’s–and–and it’s not just me. If he is even around alcohol, he has a problem with it. And I’m–I’m telling him one glass, two glasses is OK. I control it. It does not control me. But he doesn’t feel that way. Ms. JAY: You know, I would have to ask if–if Gwaine was in a home and there was trauma around alcoholism and that affects him today and there’s pain around that, why would you want to bring that trauma into your marriage? Why would alcohol be so important that you’d want to make that trauma part of your everyday life with your husband? BELINDA: Well, because it’s been a part of my life before Gwaine. I started drinking at an early age, and when he met me, you know, I drank wine, and it wasn’t a problem then. But over the years, it has been. And from time to time, I’ll slow up a little bit just to make Gwaine happy, but it’s, like, `OK. If I’m in control. I have two’–well, my children are adults now, 18 and 21–`I–I feel like I’ve been a great mother. I’ve reared them, both of us together, and it hasn’t been a problem,’ so it’s, like, I feel like Gwaine should bend a bit. JAY: What do you say? Yeah. WINFREY: Gwaine, you feel what? Ms. GWAINE: I–I struggle with it, and I’ve been struggling with it for now going on 22 years of the relationship. And it’s hard for me to accept it. It’s hard for me to live with it. I don’t like to smell it. I don’t want to smell it on her. It–it–it turns me off. It–it hurts something deep inside of me even just watching what goes on in the home with it. It–it pulls deep inside of me, and I can’t explain it why it hurts. WINFREY: Well, you don’t–you don’t have to explain it, because if you were raised around it… GWAINE: Yeah. WINFREY: …it is being retraumatized every time you see it. GWAINE: Yeah. Yeah. WINFREY: That’s what it would–that’s what it… GWAINE: Maybe that’s what it is and I… WINFREY: That’s what it is. GWAINE: Yeah. Yeah. Ms. JAY: Alcohol seems to be running the show in your marriage. GWAINE: Right. Ms. JAY: It’s the central focus to your marriage and that makes me concerned. That makes me very, very concerned. OK? I think it’s… WINFREY: If her drinking… Ms. JAY: …a lot more important to you than you’re admitting to. WINFREY: Yeah. BELINDA: Yeah. And–and it could be. I mean… WINFREY: ‘Cause if not, why not just give it up? BELINDA: Right. WINFREY: I mean, I thought that was a very good question Debra asked earlier and the whole audience was with–was with us on that question, weren’t you, audience? I saw you going (nods yes). BELINDA: Yes. WINFREY: That’s how you can tell when the audience is with you, because this is something that hurts him. He just said to all of us, this is something that hurts him. Every time he sees you drinking, there is a–there is a psychic memory that’s not too deeply buried of whatever it was that he went through as a child. And he has to relive that every time he has to watch you drink, smell the alcohol in the house, and the question we all want to know is: Wh–why is it so important for you to have it? BELINDA: I enjoy it. WINFREY: OK. BELINDA: I enjoy it, yeah. WINFREY: And your enjoyment of it means more to you than his being traumatized over it. BELINDA: Well, I feel like if it wasn’t the alcohol, it’d be something else. That’s how I feel. WINFREY: OK. And did you-all hear her? She says she feels like if it wasn’t the alcohol, it would be something else. BELINDA: Right. And I think that’s wh–it’s the case with any marriage, if I didn’t drink, it would be something else. There’s things that Gwaine does that I disapprove of and he continues. So it’s kind of like I don’t… Ms. JAY: You’re doing some great rationalizing here… WINFREY: Yeah. JAY: …but I’ve got to bring you back to reality, OK? I’ve got to bring you back to reality. That’s not the case. Now you may have other marital problems or issues. Don’t we all. BELINDA: …I don’t see it as a problem. Ms. BELINDA: Right. Ms. JAY: I mean, no one’s marriage is perfect. BELINDA: Exactly. Ms. JAY: But I’m going to tell you, you will never get to those other issues and come up with long-term solutions for them until you get the alcohol out of the picture. WINFREY: We’ll be right back. [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC] [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC] WINFREY: Would you care if your marriage ended over this? BELINDA: Yes, I would care. WINFREY: You would care. BELINDA: Yes. WINFREY: Yeah. Have you thought about ending the marriage over this? GWAINE: Oh, a number–a number of times I’ve thought about ending it. I–I just felt like she can just–you know, if this is what she wants, she enjoys, and I don’t want to cramp her–her life. If she wants this… WINFREY: But you know what? It has to be deeper than two glasses of wine. GWAINE: Oh. BELINDA: Yeah. GWAINE: Oh, yes. Just… WINFREY: Oh, yeah, please. GWAINE: It’s–it’s every day. WINFREY: Yeah. BELINDA: Yeah. WINFREY: Why are women drinking more? Why–why is this? I thought it was very interesting. I thought Sarah–I hope you-all saw the beginning of the show, where Sarah, a 30-year-old mom, admitted she was an alcoholic, and one of the things she said is that it–it allows–allows her to push down those feelings, you don’t have to feel some things. Ms. JAY: Well, yeah. I think, you know, it’s becoming more of a norm for women to drink than it used to be. WINFREY: Yeah. Ms. JAY: Women are–feel more comfortable about going out and drinking. I think sometimes with moms, you know, it’s a–it’s a tough job. You might be really isolated. You’re with little kids all the time. You don’t have any–if you’re not working, you’re a stay-at-home mom, you’re not talking to any adults all day. WINFREY: Stay-at-home mom, hardest job on Earth. Ms. JAY: Hardest job. I can’t–I mean, really. WINFREY: Yeah. No harder job on Earth. Ms. JAY: That is–and, you know… WINFREY: There isn’t. Ms. JAY: All the pr… WINFREY: It doesn’t get its props, but it’s the hardest job on Earth. WINFREY: Yeah. Ms. JAY: Yeah, it’s the hardest job… JAY: …and the most important job… WINFREY: Yeah. WINFREY: Yeah. WINFREY: It would make you want to drink. Ms. JAY: …on Earth. JAY: And all of a sudden… JAY: Yeah. I mean, yeah. WINFREY: Yeah. Ms. JAY: There are a lot of moms… WINFREY: Yeah. Ms. JAY: And, you know… WINFREY: I’m not even making a joke about it. Ms. JAY: …you–you drink that glass of wine, it’s really predictable that it’s going to make you feel better. But, you know, if you go and spend a half an hour in the garden or something else, you can release some stress and that’s never going to hurt your kids. WINFREY: What if you don’t have a garden? Ms. JAY: Well, you know, hey, take a hot bath. I’m telling you, that’s–you know, stress release, something that can relieve the stress that’s not going to have negative consequences for your children. WINFREY: OK. Can you just have a glass of wine, though, and not have a problem? Ms. JAY: Absolutely. WINFREY: OK. Ms. JAY: Absolutely. WINFREY: If you have to have–this is the other thing. If you have to have the glass of wine every night, is that a sign of a problem? Ms. JAY: I think people co–there are people that have a glass of wine every night and they don’t have a problem, most definitely. It’s never recommended to drink every single day. WINFREY: So anything you have to do every day… WINFREY: Yeah. OK. Ms. JAY: That’s a slippery slope. JAY: Then you–then you should be worrying. I’m not saying you’re an alcoholic, but you might be on that slippery slope and you should think about it. WINFREY: And I should be worried that I have to exercise on that damn treadmill every day. I am very concerned that I might be–become addicted. We’ll be right back. [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC] [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC] WINFREY: I want to say thanks to all of my guests today. You, in particular, Sarah, we’ll be following you. Debra Jay’s book is “Love First.” It’s a new approach to intervention for alcoholism and drug addictions. “Love First.” We’ll see you on Oxygen after the show. [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC]

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