Saving Loni: From the Suburbs to the Slums

June 5, 2014
Lynn and Paul say their 20-year-old daughter, Loni, went from a straight-A student to a heroin addict, and they’re desperate to get her help. After two felony arrests — including one for allegedly selling heroin to an undercover officer — Loni spent 30 days in rehab, but they say it wasn’t long before they discovered she was using heroin again — and stealing money and jewelry from family members to pay for it. Now, Lynn and Paul say Loni is living in a trailer with strangers, in the middle of nowhere, and they fear for her life. Dr. Phil sends mother-son intervention team Debbie and Brandon to track down Loni and offer her a chance to face her family and make a plan for a healthier future. Will Loni grab onto the lifeline?







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LoniLynn, Loni's motherPaul, Loni's fatherLindsey, Loni's sisterBrandon, VIP RecoveryDebbie, VIP RecoveryMarilee, Loni's cousinSam, Merilee's husbandCarole, Loni's grandmotherMandy Baker, Origins Recovery Centers

A Desperate Call for Help

Dr. Phil welcomes Brandon and his mother, Debbie, back to the show. Brandon is now seven years sober since his intervention on Dr. Phil’s stage in 2003. He "pays it forward" by partnering with his mother and helping families perform interventions across the country. Brandon and Debbie were contacted by Loni’s family, desperate for help with a heroin-addicted 20-year-old.

“Jail doesn't scare her. Death doesn't scare her.”

After not seeing Loni for weeks, Lynn, and her cousin, Merilee, go in search of her. See what they discover.

The Extraction

Brandon and Debbie meet with Loni’s family and find out that she’s living with strangers in a trailer in the middle of nowhere. They are convinced she’s still doing heroin. They form a plan to get Loni out of the trailer and to Los Angeles.
 
Brandon and Debbie, with the help of police officers, convince Loni to come out of the trailer and talk with her family. Although she denies she’s doing drugs, she eventually agrees to meet with Dr. Phil. 

The Intervention

Onstage with Loni’s parents, Lynn and Paul, and sister, Lindsey, Dr. Phil warns them that they have to be plugged in — if they aren’t willing to fight the disease, they’re not helpful for this intervention, and they should excuse themselves. “You never, ever surrender to the disease,” he says. He points out that Brandon had a long road to recovery with multiple relapses, and his family never gave up, even though they could have many times.

Are Loni’s addiction and mental health issues hereditary? And, have Paul and Lindsey given up on Loni?

A Family Problem

“Do you have any idea why she expresses so much hate toward y’all?” Dr. Phil asks.
 
“No, I don’t,” Paul says.
 
“We tried everything we can — we’re still trying,” Lindsey says. “There was a lot of enabling because we have no idea what we’re doing, and I think that’s why she’s in this situation.”

Dr. Phil notes that when Loni got in trouble at school for having pills, they didn’t think she was actually taking them. Lynn says she thinks her daughter was just trying to be cool and show off the pills.

“When she was 16, she was dating a 23-year-old, and you threatened to call the cops on him but you never did,” Dr. Phil says.
 
Lynn says Loni always denied that they were dating, and they just thought he was part of her group of friends that hung out.
 
Dr. Phil points out that when Loni and her friend got arrested for possession this year, they bailed her and her friend out of jail. “Your theory was, ‘I need her out on the street so she has access to more drugs'?”

Lynn says Loni told them they were set up — the drugs were left in a jacket in their car.
 
“And you believed that?” Debbie asks.
 
“Yeah,” she says.

“Let me add that while I was on probation, I failed 10 drug tests in a row, and I still tried to convince the judge that the lab results were messed up somehow,” Brandon says. “That’s how badly we’ll lie.”

Dr. Phil also notes that Lynn found drug paraphernalia in her daughter’s bedroom and kept that information from her husband.

“At certain times, yeah,” she says.

Dr. Phil expresses doubt that the family is ready to intervene with Loni. “You’re hiding stuff from your husband — You damn well know it.”

Dr. Phil tells the family, “I’d rather have her in jail than dead in a gutter the week after next. My agenda is: We get her off the street, we get her help, or we get her locked up where she can’t kill herself.” The family agrees.

Unresolved Resentment?

Loni joins her family onstage.

Dr. Phil tells Loni that he’s glad she had the courage to meet with him.
 
“I want finally to get my family help. Not just me, but my whole family. We all have major problems,” Loni says. “We just need to lay everything out on the table and talk about it and figure something out.”

“It’s like you’re reading my mind,” Dr. Phil says. He tells her that her family loves her and has good intentions, but her addiction is a family problem. “Why are you so mad at them?” he asks.

“I could sit here today and say, yeah, I have mental problems. I’m a drug addict. I’ve * up. I’ve stolen. I’ve lied. I’ve cheated. And I can say that on national television: I’m a drug addict. But there’s someone else who’s a drug addict, who’s keeping this on the down-low, who I think needs to talk about it,” Loni says.

Loni exposes what she says is a family secret. Is someone else hiding an addiction?

“Were you addicted to painkillers?” Dr. Phil asks Lynn.
 
“For an amount of time, yeah,” she says.

“And you had to use Suboxone to get off of it.”

“Right,” she says.

Dr. Phil turns back to Loni. “OK. Next. What else did you want on the table?” he asks.

“That was just a major thing for me,” she says, looking at her mother. “All the attention is on me for being the drug addict, but then you’re in the closet. You had your addiction, but no one knew.”

“Now they do,” Dr. Phil says.

Dr. Phil offers Loni treatment at Origins Recovery Centers and promises her that while she’s working on herself, her family will also be doing a lot of work as well. “So you can come home and really have a relationship where there’s honesty instead of hypocrisy, where people respect boundaries in your life, but yet hold you accountable," he says. Dr. Phil also offers her resources with her legal problems. He asks her if she’s willing to immerse herself in the program at Origins.

“I will,” she says.