Larry King Live
Is Abstinence the Only Way to Beat a Drinking Problem?
Aired July 10, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, if you've got a drinking problem, is swearing off booze forever the only way to beat it?
Joining us in Washington, former U.S. Senator Bob Packwood, who quit drinking about eight years ago. In Los Angeles, actress Mariette Hartley, whose family has a long history of alcoholism. Plus, in Rancho Mirage, the president of the Betty Ford Center, John Schwarzlose. And in Los Angeles, psychologist Marc Kern, founder of Addiction Alternatives and a board member for Moderation Management.
That and more all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Good evening. Our panel will joining us later.
Stories in major magazines like people magazine called "Under the Influence, and in Gotham's "New York" magazine: "Drink Your Medicine"; the concept is Moderation Management. One of its founders is a lady named Audrey Kishline, who has pled guilty to two counts of vehicular manslaughter, vehicular homicide while driving an automobile drunk. She wrote the book "Moderation Management: How People Can Reduce the Drinking Without Having to Stop Drinking." She's a little sorry about that and is facing some sort of jail term -- more about that in a while.
Let's meet people most affected by Audrey Kishline. And they are Sheri Maloy-Davis, whose 12-year-old daughter, was killed on March 25th in that accident by Mrs. Kishline and Will Davis, the older brother of Danny Davis, who was also killed in that accident. Danny is the ex-husband of Sheri.
What was the circumstances that night that your ex-husband and daughter were together, Sherry? What was happening?
SHERI MALOY-DAVIS, MOTHER OF DRUNK DRIVING VICTIM: Danny's an electrician and he working in Bellevue. And there was a really good school over there, and LaSchell wanted to go to school so she could be with her dad because he didn't want to be way from the family so much. And they would travel home on the weekends. And we were all waiting for them to come home to spend the weekend with the family.
KING: And there is your daughter. And we have just seen your ex-husband. What time day of did this happen, Sheri? I think we had trouble with Sheri. Can -- are we connecting with Sheri or Will? OK, we will go back to them when we correct our satellite. But let's go to Bob Packwood in Washington, D.C., the former United States senator who used to drink quite heavily.
Bob, do you consider yourself alcoholic?
BOB PACKWOOD, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Larry, I have never been sure. I was a binge drinker. And when I would drink, I would drink a great deal. And then I'd go for days or weeks without drinking. But I don't want to risk the fact that I may not be. So I just find that abstinence is, frankly, easier than moderation. Whether I'm really an alcoholic or not, I'm not sure.
KING: Do you think this concept of moderation can work?
PACKWOOD: It is a tough one, Larry. Abstinence is a brighter line. It's easier. It's yes or no. I suppose if a person genuinely was not an alcoholic -- and I mean almost in a narcotic-dependent sense -- was not an alcoholic, that person might be able to learn to drink moderately and have a reasonably normal life. But the problem is, I think most alcoholics would regard them as not alcoholic, and think they could drink.
KING: Marc Kern, tell us the concept. You are on the Board of Directors of Moderation Management. You're founder and director of Addiction Alternatives. You're a psychologist, and you had your own alcohol and drug abuse problems, correct?
MARC KERN, BOARD, MODERATION MANAGEMENT: Absolutely. I had serious alcohol and drug problems myself. And I got into the field because of that.
KING: Obviously -- this case of Audrey Kishline is a blow to your concept, since she wrote a book called "Moderate Drinking." She was one of the founders of Moderation Management, and she winds up killing two people drinking in a car. Would you agree that that's a severe blow to the concept?
KERN: Well, it may be a blow to the con -- I'm deeply sorry that this tragedy has befallen this family. But I think the concept is still legitimate, still viable, and still a necessary ingredient for our society to embrace, because we need more people involved in looking at the relationship with alcohol. And abstinence often is a deterrent for people getting into treatment.
KING: We are going to come back to Bob Packwood, and to Marc Kern, and to our panel, Mariette and John Schwarzlose. We understand our satellite problem is corrected, and we can go back to Ellensburg, Washington, and Sheri Maloy-Davis and Will Davis.
Sheri, what time of day was this that your daughter was killed?
MALOY-DAVIS: 6:08 in the evening.
KING: Early evening, certainly not a time someone should be drinking. MALOY-DAVIS: No. Actually...
KING: How did -- I'm sorry.
MALOY-DAVIS: That's OK. I was just going to say that it was actually dinner time for the average person.
KING: How did you hear about it, Sheri?
MALOY-DAVIS: A policeman came to the door, knocked on the door, and told us.
KING: Boy, what is that like?
MALOY-DAVIS: It was about 2:30 in the morning. And it was most devastating thing I had ever had told me in my life. I will never forget that moment. In fact, to me...
KING: Will Davis, where did you hear about your older brother. How did you hear about it?
WILL DAVIS, BROTHER OF DRUNK DRIVING VICTIM: We received a phone call, from my younger brother, Kimmy (ph), that told me that I should call the state patrol and verify it. So, we got on the phone, and we called the state patrol office and verified it at 2:30 in the morning.
KING: Did they tell you, Will, that it was a drunk driver?
DAVIS: They said that there could possibly be alcohol involved, that they couldn't release any information from the scene, other than that my brother and niece were dead.
KING: We are seeing a picture of the car now, Sheri. Did they tell you, did the policeman tell you it was vehicular homicide by someone who was drinking?
MALOY-DAVIS: Not at that moment. Once they told me that Danny and LaSchell were dead, I kind of like lost it for awhile. And I just -- I actually freaked out. I was devastated. So I didn't hear anything else they said after that. I was told later what they actually told our family.
KING: You never get over something like this, obviously.
MALOY-DAVIS: No, it was very devastating.
KING: Now, she has pled guilty, and she's going to -- we are going to meet the prosecutor in a couple moments. She can get anywhere from 41 months to life. Are you going to be asked to speak at her sentencing?
KING: What are you going to say?
MALOY-DAVIS: I haven't been able to completely put all my thoughts into words yet. When I think of it, I just -- I get really overwhelmed with memories, and I have usually have to stop put the pin down and go through memory process again. And so it has been a really hard process to sort out what I'm going to say.
KING: Do you think she should do a lot of time in jail?
MALOY-DAVIS: I think people should be held accountable for their actions and should be responsible for when they do something.
KING: Do you have other children, Sheri?
MALOY-DAVIS: Yes, I have a 14-year-old son and a five-year-old son.
KING: The five-year-old probably doesn't know much of what's gone on. How is the boy handling it?
MALOY-DAVIS: The oldest one, he doesn't really have any comment about it. He just keeps his -- he's really tucked it inside. And Cody (ph), my five-year-old, really misses his sister. They rode bikes together. And, you know, in some ways, she is like a little mom to him. So, she was very loving with him.
KING: Will, what do you think should happen to Audrey?
DAVIS: The guidelines they have to go by aren't stringent enough in my mind. I think she has had every opportunity to straighten her life out, both through her own program and Alcoholics Anonymous, and with this three-month thing she's done now in Oregon. I would like to see her do time for the criminal act that she did. And that is what this is. It was no accident. It was a criminal act.
KING: Well, she can get, as we understand it, from 41 months to life. Do you think it should go into years?
DAVIS: Do I think it should be life?
KING: No, years, a substantive amount of years.
DAVIS: Yeah, I myself would like to see her put away for a long time, because she is definitely a menace to society. Nobody had any idea that the lifestyle she was living was going to end up such a -- involved in such a tragic thing, and especially with our family. I think that if they was to give her life, it wouldn't be her complete life. It never is. What, do you do 20 years when you get life? So, yes, I think the punishment is -- going to be real hard to try to find a punishment to fit this crime.
KING: And were you angrier, Will, when you learned that she had written a book on this?
DAVIS: Yes, I was angry about it. In fact, that is why we are here talking today, because if she hadn't wrote a book, it would have just been the obituary in the paper that would cover my brother and my niece. But because of her notoriety, then we are able to be on this show and other shows, and speak out against drinking and driving as the crime that it really is.
KING: Thank you both very much, Sheri Maloy-Davis and Will Davis. When we come back, Margaret Penny Sowards. She is the Kittitas County deputy prosecutor. We will get her thoughts on all of this. And then our panel will assemble. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AUDREY KISHLINE, DRUNK DRIVER: I take full responsibility for my actions. I am going to prison to pay my debt to society. But I can never repay my debt to the family.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're now joined in Ellensburg, Washington, by Margaret Penny Sowards. She's the Kittitas County deputy prosecutor. She will prosecute Audrey Kishline, who has already pled guilty to two counts of vehicular homicide.
That means, Margaret, I guess you don't have anyone to prosecute. Are they going to ask you for a recommendation of sentence?
MARGARET PENNY SOWARDS, KITTITAS COUNTY DEPUTY PROSECUTOR: Yes, we actually have to reveal what our recommendation is at the time she pleads guilty, so it's no real surprise. We've recommend 54 months, which is the high end of the standard range for her, based on these counts and her criminal history.
KING: She could get life, though, couldn't she?
SOWARDS: Well, the maximum penalty, actually, is life. The way it works in Washington state is that we have -- the laws create guidelines which come up -- they're established based on criminal history and the severity of the crime.
KING: Here no criminal history but two deaths, right?
KING: So you're recommending four and a half years.
KING: Have you prosecuted a lot of vehicular homicide cases?
SOWARDS: Myself, no, this is my first.
KING: What's your read on all of this? I mean, what does society do about someone who kills someone accidentally but yet has chosen to drive while drunk?
SOWARDS: Well, I don't think it's really an accident. I do think it's a choice. And I think that it's a choice that she made when she drink the first drink. Yes, she -- maybe she didn't fully appreciate getting behind the wheel of the car, but I don't think that should excuse the behavior and the choice that she made in the first place. So it is a tough situation, because you don't have the criminal intent to go out and kill somebody, but she should have known better.
SOWARDS: And arguably she did have the intent.
KING: In your opinion, four and a half years is fair?
SOWARDS: No, it's.
KING: You'd like to -- you could ask for more, couldn't you?
SOWARDS: I could, except that I'm constrained by the law in terms of what we would get. We have to have aggravating circumstances to justify it, and those are set forth in the law as well. And there just aren't any of those present in this case unfortunately.
KING: The fact that she wrote a book, "Moderate Drinking for People who Want to Reduce their Drinking" has no bearing at this issue?
SOWARDS: None at all.
KING: Have you spent any time with the defendant?
SOWARDS: I haven't spent any time with her, other than with her attorney in court. And I haven't spoken with her personally at all.
KING: Do you think she's truly remorseful?
SOWARDS: I don't know. She appears to be so, and I guess she should be. There's nothing that, I mean, doesn't prevent what she might do again. I mean, she might be remorseful today and still go out and drink and drive. So I don't really consider it, I guess.
KING: Is Ellensburg near Seattle?
SOWARDS: It's about an hour and a half east of Seattle.
KING: Does it have many drunk driving cases at all?
SOWARDS: Oh, yes, quite a few. We have I-90, which is a major highway that goes from Seattle to Boston, and it's the main thoroughfare through the state. And so we get a lot of -- we also have a concert amphitheater just east of here at the Vantage -- near Vantage, on the river.
KING: Are -- generally are -- are penalties generally severe for, say, drunk driving? You know, forget homicide, drunk driving?
SOWARDS: Oh, just for DUI period?
SOWARDS: They've moved around a lot. It's a one-day mandatory minimum or two days, depending on what your BAC is. And then it jumps up to, like, I think, 30 days and then 90 days or depending on how many priors you have. The maximum penalty is a year.
KING: Because nothing can bring LaSchell and Danny back.
KING: Thank you very much, Margaret. Margaret Penny Sowards under the concripts of the law can only ask for 54 months, four and half years, in this matter.
Our panel will assemble. We'll discuss: Can an alcoholic learn to drink moderately, not kill anyone, exist in society, still have a life? I'm sure we'll have some disagreement.
Don't go away.
KING: OK, let's reintroduce our panel to discuss drinking and the concept of moderation drinking. They're former United States Senator Bob Packwood. He's at our Washington, D.C., bureau. In Los Angeles is Mariette Hartley, the famed actress. In Rancho Mirage California is John Schwarzlose, he's been a previous guest on this program. He's the president of the Betty Ford Center. And in Los Angeles, Marc Kern, the board of directors for Moderation Management and founder and director of Addiction Alternatives.
Mariette, with your experience in this field, can you -- can an alcoholic, or someone who is a drinker, who drinks a lot, moderately drink?
MARIETTE HARTLEY, ACTRESS: Well, Larry, in my experience -- and I am allergic to alcohol, there's no question -- I don't know any normal drinker that goes out to prove that they can drink like a normal drinker. I don't think there's any such animal. One drink is too many, 100 aren't enough. Once one starts, one drink begins to develop a preoccupation with drinking.
And whether or not one believes in moderate drinking or not, which is fine, you cannot drink and drive. I don't care how much you've drunk or how little you think you have drunk, it is either suicide or homicide. It's clear with devastation of this story.
KING: John Schwarzlose, your president of the Betty Ford Center. Do you believe people can moderately approach this problem?
JOHN SCHWARZLOSE, PRESIDENT, BETTY FORD CENTER: Larry I don't. And, the reason we have movements like Moderation Management is because of the confusion that is overwhelming about alcohol and alcoholism in our society. In reality, there is well-defined criteria that distinguishes between the abuse of alcohol and alcoholism.
Once someone is addicted to alcohol, is an alcoholic, there is a change, an alteration, of the neurochemistry of the brain. And you cannot go back once you've become addicted to that drug. KING: I got you.
Now, Marc, most people who drink are moderate drinkers, right?
KERN: The vast majority, 80 percent of the U.S. population.
KING: So we're not talking about them, the average person...
KING: ... who comes home, has a drink.
KING: We're talking about the severe drinker, the alcoholic, et cetera. Why do you think or know that moderation can work for them?
KERN: Oh, let's get this clear. We in Moderation Management, or myself professionally, do not believe alcoholics can drink. Moderation Management is not for alcoholic but for what we call an early stage problem drinker, or someone who is still ambivalent about accepting abstinence and needing to make a determination whether abstinence is the only route for them.
We do not believe alcoholics can drive, and Moderation Management has a rule that there is no drinking or driving whatsoever.
KING: What's the difference between a severe drinker -- or the beginning of severe drinking and an alcoholic?
KERN: Very good question, very difficult to answer. I mean, there's a lot of different definitions. A severe drinker generally has what's called loss of control, an inability to sort of regulate their drinking. They have a history of blackouts, they have more than 10 years problematic drinking.
But it's still very difficult to determine whether someone is just an early stage problem drinker or problematic drinker versus an alcoholic. And we believe that we are helping people, even within Moderation Management, come to the conclusion themselves that alcohol should not be a part of their life.
HARTLEY: But, Larry, I'm just curious about what the...
KING: Hold on, hold it, Mariette.
KING: I'll have you jump right in, but I want to ask the senator, since you clearly come in line here somewhere, you don't know what you are or were, right?
PACKWOOD: Well, I'm not sure, Larry. As I said, when I would drink, I would drink a lot. Even today, when I drink water, it's not uncommon for me to drink eight or nine glasses of water with a meal. I would do the same thing with beer or with wine when I drank. And you can't drink eight or nine glasses of beer, eight or nine glasses of wine and be sober.
And -- but whether or not I'm an alcoholic in the traditional sense of the word, I don't know. I was able to quit without any help. I just decided one day I'd quit. I wasn't in AA, I wasn't in any program, I just quit. And it wasn't difficult. So at least clearly I wasn't narcotically dependent on it.
KING: In a moment, we'll hear Mariette's counter to Marc and continue the discussion. We'll also include your phone calls.
Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FORMER GOV. ANN RICHARDS (D), TEXAS: I think I'm one of the lucky ones. You know, I go to AA meetings and I listen to those who've been sober for a shorter period of time, who talk about sometimes they wish they had a drink. But it -- Larry, when I went to the hospital, it was such a trauma, it was such a wrenching shock to my life. And I was so frightened, so scared of everything that I have seriously never wanted a drink since then.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back.
Mariette Hartley wanted to say something in response to what Marc said.
HARTLEY: I just wanted to say one thing, that it is the obsession of every alcoholic that I know of to drink like a moderate and normal drinker. Dr. Kern was talking about the fact that he wanted to see whether or not treatment could be instilled in these various drinkers, whatever they are.
And from my own experience, the only way that any kind of treatment could have a profound effect on me was to be in a state of sobriety. I find a sober life -- I don't know what other word to call it -- a day at a time, to be only kind of life for me.
It's very, very hard to try to drink like a normal drinker. I find it impossible. There's always that sense of why did I break that promise to myself that I wasn't going to have that drink today, why, why, why, why, why. And I think that this extraordinary woman that -- whose life we've seen destroyed and two other lives that we've seen destroyed, I think, is the best testimony to abstinence that we can look at today.
KING: John, do you think the definitions are clear, that we know who's an alcoholic and who is not?
SCHWARZLOSE: It's not clear, Larry. What Mariette was just talking about was compulsive use and compulsive seeking of alcohol, which is one of the main cornerstones of the definition. The confusion that groups like Moderation Management come out with just -- it really does confuse the average man or woman about what this is all about.
KING: You confuse the enough to maybe have an alcoholic drink?
SCHWARZLOSE: Well, Larry, it's very interesting. A couple days after that show on Moderation Management appeared on "20/20," we received an e-mail at our alumni office from a woman from the Midwest who had been through the Betty Ford Center two years previously, who said she'd been struggling with her sobriety. And after seeing the program, she went out and started drinking. She said she was counting her drinks as the show had told her to do. And then she realized what she was doing and started back to her 12-step meetings, and wrote us, saying, I hope I haven't ruined the chance to be a Betty Ford Center alum.
She was very confused, and it just gave her ammunition to go out and try drinking again.
KING: Marc, why promote this at all? Why even have a concept of Moderate Management? Why not just say, look, if you have a problem, don't drink. And if you're a moderate drinker, you fit 80 percent of the public anyway, why even have this concept?
KERN: Well, I mean, it's really an obvious question. I mean, why should we tell all our college students not to have a drink. The reality is that people are going to consume alcohol...
KING: That wouldn't be bad, would it?
KERN: It wouldn't be bad, but I -- I would question whether you could convince a college student that after watching football game or during a football game he shouldn't have a beer.
People are going to consume alcohol. We have to be realistic. We have to come to grips with the fact that people are going to indulge in this beverage.
Audrey's example is a perfect example of why abstinence doesn't work, not why moderation doesn't work. She was not following moderation, and she was actively in a 12-step program three, four times a week during the time just before the car crash.
KING: But she wrote a book for people who want to reduce their drinking. Most people who are problem drinkers want to reduce their drinking.
KING: She's saying you can reduce. Why not stay with reduce completely by doing -- by not drinking?
HARTLEY: Well, unfortunately, what I think, Larry, is that people have to come to a state of huge and tremendous and sometimes hideous, as in this woman's example, surrender. I mean, Ann Richards was talking about that. She's an extraordinary woman.
We have to come to a place of surrender. Being an alcoholic is a self-diagnosed disease. We -- I couldn't even call my father an alcoholic or my mother an alcoholic. Their drinking bothered me, but I can say that I am if I am, and...
KING: So do you understand Senator Packwood...
HARTLEY: ... it comes from...
HARTLEY: ... It's surrender. It's absolute surrender.
KING: Do you understand Senator Packwood, then, who doesn't know if he has or wasn't, Mariette?
HARTLEY: Yes, but, you know, to me it doesn't matter. I mean, if you're endangering your own life and endangering other people's lives and you're drinking compulsively -- and certainly it sounds to me as though he was drinking compulsively -- it doesn't matter what the label. That he stopped is admirable.
HARTLEY: I find that most people need a great deal of help stopping, because this is a society that supports drinking.
KERN: That doesn't teach moderation. That doesn't teach what are appropriate amounts of alcohol, what are solid guidelines to be followed. What is healthy and unhealthy drinking?
KING: Let me get a break right there...
HARTLEY: What is healthy and unhealthy smoking?
KING: All right, let me get a break right there and we'll pick right up.
By the way, tomorrow night, Judge Judy will be with us.
And Wednesday night, an exclusive first interview with Don Imus, who's recovered from that terrible fall from the horse.
Thursday night, Jack Lemmon salutes Walter Matthau.
We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN LARROQUETTE, ACTOR: I thought that once I got the cure, that I would be able to, you know, be a man and a gentleman and drink like an Earthling. And I was proven many times that I could not do that. You know, the old -- the man once told me that the definition of insanity is repetition of the same action expecting different results. So I just, you know, I'm just better, without it. (END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: John Schwarzlose, what do you make of the Smithers Addiction Treatment and Research Center in New York, which incorporates the concept of Moderation Management for some of its clients?
SCHWARZLOSE: Well, Larry, I'm confused about it. Smithers, like a lot of treatment centers, has run into trouble with reimbursement for what they do. But as I define Moderation Management, which is something again for people that don't have an addiction to alcohol, I'm not sure why a hospital specializing in addiction would be doing Moderation Management. So I have to find out more about it, and I wish I knew more about it.
KING: Marc, if we don't have terms, if, as Mariette says, you know if you are alcoholic, and you know if you're not, how does one know how to adopt whether they use moderation or not? For example, let's take Senator Packwood as an example. Should he adopt Moderation Management?
KERN: Absolutely not, absolutely not. He should continue on the road of abstinence. And there are many, many, many roads to abstinence. AA is not by a long shot the only road to abstinence. He should continue. But like Mariette said, this is a self-diagnosing phenomenon. And the individual needs to come up with their own decision that they must stop, and we are trying to help them come to that determination sooner.
KING: Were you...
HARTLEY: Also, Larry, I think...
KING: Hold on Mariette. Marc, were you a drinker?
KERN: Absolutely. When I -- in my late 20s and early 30s and graduating out of a fraternity, I would have been diagnosed as a true alcoholic. And there's, you know...
KING: Do you drink moderately now?
KERN: Absolutely. Once, twice a month maybe tops. But it's not an obsession, it's not a compulsion. So people do transition from stages. And once you've been diagnosed as an alcoholic, doesn't mean that that necessarily is going to be a state for a lifetime.
I know many seniors...
KING: All right, Mariette -- I'm sorry, finish, Marc.
KERN: No, no, just how many seniors that have sort of -- I don't want to promote this, but have actually have had problems with alcohol at, you know, at a different phase of their lives and have grown out of it. KING: All right, isn't it, Mariette -- I can understand the concept, but doesn't it sometimes appear a little weird to say, boy, every day is I'm an alcoholic, I'm an -- I haven't had a drink for 32 years. I'm an alcoholic. Can't you say after 32 years you're not an alcoholic?
HARTLEY: Well, I don't understand the question. So if you're not an alcoholic...
KING: Well, the alcoholic has to keep reminding himself he's an alcoholic. He hasn't had a drink in 15 years. What happens if he has a drink? In other words...
HARTLEY: Well, what they do certainly...
KING: ... is it drummed into him psychologically that if you have a drinker, you're a drinker forever?
HARTLEY: Yes. Well, I think they also say that it is a progressive disease. And we certainly have witnessed many people who have started to drink after years of sobriety and go downhill very, very quickly.
One of the things that Marc and I were talking about during the break is something that I feel is very important and one of the reasons why some people can't stay sober. And that is that once they get sober, they begin to realize the underlying mental illness that occurs, that has occurred maybe early on in their lives, or certain psychological truths that have happened that they have covered and self-medicated with alcohol. And often, it's very hard for them to live a life without some kind of medication.
Now I'm not talking about narcotics, I'm talking about mood- stabilizers or antidepressants. Often people go out behind a kind of undiagnosed mental illness and...
KERN: What if it goes beyond that? I mean, yes, these problems do exist. This is why I have such difficulty with the disease concept. If it's truly a disease, is there any pills? Are there any shots? Are there any medications? No. This is a psychological phenomenon. Even AA is a social support group. It doesn't give you medication. It is not a disease...
KING: All right.
KERN: ... in the traditional sense of the word.
HARTLEY: But I do think that it is genetic...
PACKWOOD: In truth...
HARTLEY: ... There's no question to me that it's genetic.
KING: One at a time. KING: All right, John? I'm sorry, is that Bob or John?
PACKWOOD: This is Bob Packwood, Larry.
KING: OK, go ahead, Larry.
PACKWOOD: After I quit drinking, it was a year that I quit drinking, I decided I would join AA. But this was long after I quit. I was curious about the organization. I found it a great organization. But in answer to your question, can somebody not drink 10, 15, 20 years, can't they then say they're not an alcoholic? There may be people like that. I didn't meet many of them in AA. I met a lot of people in AA that had quit drinking five, 10, 15 years and thought, I'm OK and took a drink and within a week they were back on skid row again. So maybe it can be done, but for most alcoholics, genuine alcoholics, you are never cured. You are always recovering.
KING: John, if it's not -- if it's not a disease, per se, is it an allergy?
SCHWARZLOSE: Larry, it is a disease. And I -- it's sad that we're still debating that. It meets every criteria for disease that there is. It's a complex disease, both physical and psychological. I don't know why we're still debating that fact. And again, that just adds to confusion with people.
KING: All right, so we know why someone says almost every night, I need a drink, and then I need another drink and then I need another drink? Why?
SCHWARZLOSE: Because I -- with addiction, you have a compulsive seeking of that drug and what it does for you. And part of what happens with addiction is I continue to need more and more alcohol than I did before. That's part of what happens with addiction.
KERN: That's -- all you're speaking of is tolerance there. Do you have any proof that it is a disease? Do you have any scientific evidence? Do we have a pill, a shot, a medication? Anything to suggest that we will treat this disease similar to any other disease that we've ever come across? I mean...
SCHWARZLOSE: Marc, we do treat it like other diseases in treatment. We treat it with medical, we treat it with nursing, with psychological, with family care. It meets the criteria by the American Medical Association for disease. All you're doing by continuing to raise that question is confuse people. We're talking about people that become addicted...
KERN: What are you so afraid about confusing people about? Why is everybody so afraid to talk rationally about this topic?
KING: I guess, Marc, because they're worried that you're going to take someone who hasn't had a drink in 15 years and send them on a highway -- not you, but someone's going to go on a highway killing someone...
KERN: Exactly, and...
KING: ... because they bought the concept that I can do it moderately.
KERN: And what do they do? And when they go out and they do have a drink and they go out and they prove that they can stop, what happens to them? They go back and they abstain. They must -- their bothered inside, and they're ambivalent about their abstinence in the first place if they would want to buy into the concept moderate drinking.
They -- they'll try -- they must -- people must convince themselves that this is the right course for them to stick to.
KING: Is it psychologically...
HARTLEY: But let's hope...
KING: All right...
HARTLEY: ... that it doesn't happen by killing two people.
SCHWARZLOSE: Oh, absolutely.
HARTLEY: I mean, you know, there's got to be a way of surrendering without its being hideous and horrendous. I mean...
KING: Let me get a break, we'll come back...
HARTLEY: ... one of the things we -- OK.
KING: Hold it, Mariette.
We'll get a break, we'll come back with more.
This is LARRY KING LIVE.
Don't go away.
KING: Marc Kern, if perception is reality -- and I perceive that if I drink and I have one drink it's going to be bad for me -- what's wrong with that?
KERN: There's absolutely nothing wrong with it other than what Ellen Marletta (ph), a famous psychologist, calls the abstinence violation effect. And that is if you believe that something is going to happen and you -- let's take the alcohol. If you believe that one drink makes one drunk, then what you're going to do is, if you should happen to have that one drink, you are going to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. You're going to continue to drink and drink and drink. If you believe you can pull the reins in or believe that you do have some control about the outcome, there's a greater likelihood -- at least I believe -- that problems will -- you will not drink as much. Let's leave it at that.
KING: Mariette, how do you respond to that? That seems a good point.
KING: How much of this is you being conditioned to believe that if I have the drink I'm a drunk?
HARTLEY: Well, I know that a lot of people who've tried to control their drinking, tried desperately to control drinking, can't physically control their drinking. So somebody may be able to explain that to me.
The other thing that I really want to make a point about before we stop is that something has not been discussed here. The first step in Alcoholics Anonymous is that I'm powerless over alcohol, my life has become unmanageable -- period, that's it.
What we haven't discussed tonight is the dis-ease, the spiritual dis-ease. What am I looking for when I pick up that first drink? What is it?
KING: That's what I asked. What is it?
HARTLEY: It's not a mistake -- well, it's not a mistake that it's called spirits. I mean, I think that alcoholics or people who have these kinds of extraordinary compulsions are basically very spiritual people, and that once they begin to walk away from a kind of externally put in spirituality they begin to find their own.
I have never met more spiritual people than those that have been sober a day at a time for a very long time. We come -- we come face- to-face with our own internal sense of peace, serenity. We're to longer looking for an outside fix. There's something deeply quieting about a life of sobriety.
KING: Can you explain, Bob Packwood, why you would do something that, you know, as John Larroquette described, as insanity by repeating again what would bring you trouble?
PACKWOOD: No. I can't explain it. And perhaps drinking got me in enough trouble that I just one day said, if drinking is causing me a problem, I'm going to quit. But if you were to ask me why did I do it, what led me to it, I don't think I can give you an answer.
KING: Honestly said. Let's get a call in. Oakland, California, hello.
CALLER: Hi. This is a question for Marc. Marc, is it your experience that people often come to moderation management as a solution to their alcoholism or perhaps as a first step to dealing with a problem that might result in abstinence? And if so, does that really mean to you that moderation management may actually be a great gateway to abstinence rather than a deterrent to it? KERN: Well, that's an excellent question. I mean, Moderation Management -- first of all, there will be a piece of research published very soon about it -- is drawing people that historically have not sought treatment. It is often -- it is sort of a fork in the road for most people where they're trying to make a determination whether abstinence is the right course or they can sustain moderation. It is a stepping stone. And we are getting people that would not historically seek treatment. We're not waiting until they hit bottom, kill somebody, for them to get into treatment, and we believe, helping them.
KING: John Schwarzlose, what's wrong with that explanation?
SCHWARZLOSE: Well, actually there isn't anything, because, again, if you haven't reached the definition of alcoholism, if you're still a problem drinker, then management and modification is possible. It's really about defining whether it's alcoholism or not.
KING: And is it the person who has to define it himself? I have to say, I am a problem drinker or I am an alcoholic? No one can define it for me?
SCHWARZLOSE: No, that's not true. Mariette's right that admitting is very, very important. But this is a disease that can be diagnosed by professionals like any other disease, and is every day.
KING: So in other words, I could give you the circumstances of someone and you could you tell me that someone is an alcoholic.
SCHWARZLOSE: We -- exactly. That would be part of the assessment. And...
KING: Is Bob Packwood an alcoholic?
SCHWARZLOSE: I don't know that because I don't know his circumstances. If we did and we did an assessment of Senator Packwood and said that he was, then again the first step in recovery is for him to say and admit that he has that disease.
KING: But even though he hasn't admitted it as saying, I'm an alcoholic, he has stopped.
SCHWARZLOSE: Which I agree with Mariette earlier. It's great that he's done that. He's no longer having problems with it. I think he made a great decision.
KING: So therefore, Mariette, it doesn't matter if he is or he isn't. If he isn't drinking, it don't matter, right?
HARTLEY: Listen, if one has a problem drinking and one knows that oneself, you know, to me -- listen. Moderation therapy is not new. I mean, even in the -- "The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous" says if you think you're not an alcoholic, if you think you can drink, go out and try it, we gratefully refund your misery.
KERN: But what happens with that statement from "The Big Book" is that they go out and they try a method and they don't have any -- they don't -- they don't retain the results, because they said, well, I didn't try this, I didn't try this, and I should have tried a little bit of this. But we give them solid guidelines, solid constructs to make that determination.
KING: I've got to get a break here. When I come back, I'll ask why someone would drink and drive a car -- right after this. Don't go away.
KING: Senator Packwood, did you ever drink and drive?
PACKWOOD: Oh, yes.
PACKWOOD: I have no...
KING: I mean, why logically? Why would you get into a car?
PACKWOOD: Well, because, Larry, when I was raised in the West, drinking was common, certainly among adults in their 20s. You were served liquor at parties. You brought liquor to parties. You drove to the parties -- there wasn't much mass transportation -- and you thought nothing about it. You thought nothing about it even if you were drunk, let alone if you had a few drinks. It was just -- it was common.
KING: Mariette, do you know why someone would drink and drive, someone from the East?
HARTLEY: Well, you know, when I was raised, like Senator Packwood, you know, it was post-Prohibition. It was Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald. It was bathtub gin. Everybody drank and drove.
KING: Didn't think anything of it?
HARTLEY: Not in those days, but I've been so grateful that I was able to play Candy Lightner and do Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and see the devastation that occurs when one drinks and drives. By the way, that man who killed Cari was in jail for three days, came back out, and got into an accident with another young girl named Carrie (ph).
KING: Ottawa, Canada, hello.
CALLER: Hello. My question is to...
CALLER: My question is to the entire panel. We have many groups working to find solutions. Do you not think that a direct and positive solution is to work directly with car manufacturers to install alcohol sensors in all cars so that a car ignition cannot be turned on, and do you not think that if that were the case we would not be having this discussion?
KING: Is that technologically possible, John?
SCHWARZLOSE: Yes, it is, and there's some interesting research on ways to disable a car when someone's had too much to drink. And I'm all for those.
KING: Boy, would that be great.
HARTLEY: Terrific idea.
KING: No one on the panel would disagree with that. Do you know if anyone's working on it?
SCHWARZLOSE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) exist. This equipment presently exists, and we're very much supportive of that.
HARTLEY: But is it too expensive for...
KING: We'll take a break and then...
HARTLEY: ... car companies?
KING: Let me. Mariette, you're asking how much does it cost, right?
HARTLEY: Well, yes, for car manufacturers to put in. Why isn't in every car?
KING: Why isn't it? Anyone know? Marc?
KERN: I don't know why -- I've actually have had some clients who have had it installed after they've gotten a DUI or are concerned about their drinking. They protect themselves by installing it themselves.
KING: Seems it should be a basic in every car. We'll be back with our remaining moments and final thoughts, right after this.
KING: 86 percent of all homicides are alcohol-related; 70 percent of all child abuse; 100,000 deaths from alcohol each year. One out of every five Americans is a problem drinker.
Wouldn't abstinence -- couldn't we make a case, John, that this is an industry that shouldn't be around?
SCHWARZLOSE: Well, Larry, I honestly believe if alcohol was being introduced today, it would never get through the Food and Drug Administration.
KING: There would be no way it would get approved.
KING: Washington, D.C., hello.
CALLER: Yes, Mr. Kern. We'd like to ask you who supports your organization financially.
KERN: Well, moderation -- Moderation Management is a free self- help group. It's based on donations only, very much like AA and the other alternative self-help groups.
KING: Not supported by the liquor industry.
KERN: Absolutely not. Absolutely not.
KING: I guess that's the implication of the question.
KERN: They don't even like the idea to my best knowledge that we sponsor moderation management, but that's...
KING: Mariette, do you think we'll ever turn the corner on this problem as -- I was going to say as a nation -- I guess as a world society problem?
HARTLEY: I don't know, because I really do believe that denial is the first addiction, and denial works until it stops working. For myself, I mean, I can only be a walking example of a hopefully a conscious unanesthetized life. It's difficult, it's challenging, but for me it is deeply, deeply worth it. And these kinds of shows, Larry, may change lives, and my prayer is that they will.
KING: Bob, do you think you'll ever drink again?
PACKWOOD: I don't -- I don't think so. Every now and then I think to myself I wonder what a beer would taste like or I wonder what a glass of wine would taste like, but I think I'll pass the opportunity.
KING: And Marc, you do drink in moderation, right?
KERN: Yes, I drink about once -- one or two glasses of wine a month perhaps on average. But that would be at the maximum. My definition of moderation is very, very small. And that's one of the things we teach people: that if so little alcohol is really moderation, is that really even desirable for someone with a problem with alcohol? Often they would just say, I'll pass altogether.
KING: Marc, you're not an opponent of places like Betty Ford, are you?
KERN: Opponent? Against?
KING: Someone who says -- yes, against, don't go there.
KERN: Oh, absolutely not, but I do believe it's not particularly money well spent. I think you can get 12 step programs fundamentally on the street. I don't necessarily think that hospitalization is necessary and there's lots of methods to recovery. There's smart recovery, there's rational recovery, there's Women for Sobriety. And a lot of money is being misspent, I think, in the alcohol, drug treatment field.
KING: John, how would you respond?
SCHWARZLOSE: Larry, this is a very complex disease, and it requires a very comprehensive approach that places like Betty Ford Center are involved in every day. And I'm just glad that every day men and women who are alcoholic begin recovery, their families begin recovery, and really are able to start a new life.
KING: Since you work on this, are you a aware of any pharmaceutical company working on a drug that could stop you from being alcoholic?
SCHWARZLOSE: Larry, there are pharmaceutical companies and researchers working on drugs that have to do with craving, that would hopefully stop people from craving. But again that is only the brain or the physical part of this illness. It would not be -- not touch the spiritual and psychological part.
KING: But Mariette, if we could stop the physical, wouldn't that work?
HARTLEY: Oh, my gosh, no. There's so many other parts to this -- to this disease that need to be dealt with, if one wants to call it a disease whatever. There are so many parts of this dis-ease that need to be dealt with: the spiritual, as John said, the psychological. I mean, a lot of people who have struggled with alcoholism have been post-traumatic stress survivors, have been clinically depressed and have tried to cover it that way. We need to find out what is the underlying reason often for self-medication. And...
KERN: See, that's where I think -- it's sort of like double- talk. I don't mean to disagree, but...
KING: We're almost out of time, Marc.
KERN: Well, you say it's a disease. On the other hand, you say, you know, there's all these underlying issues. There are medications out there for stopping craving and for stopping altogether. Why don't people take them?
KING: We're out of time. Thank all very, very much for an illuminating discussion of, we hope, a problem that might someday go away.
Judge Judy tomorrow night, Don Imus on Wednesday, Jack Lemmon on Thursday. Stay tuned for CNN "NEWSSTAND": It's next.
I'm Larry King. Good night.