Decades of Drinking Behind Her, a Mother Faces a Steep Road Ahead

"I'm not going to drink that," Wardlow said, wavering before she gave in and took a sip.

Wardlow's family walked her down the steps. She gave them kisses. She grew emotional.

"I'm not the only person who needs to be healed," said Wardlow. "I'm not the only person who has been affected by this.

"It's gonna be good," she assured her famliy. "I'm going to get better."

Two planes, three bloody mary's and two beers later, Wardlow landed in Florida.

She was greeted by Loren Seaman from the Orchid Recovery Center, where Wardlow would surrender herself for treatment.

"Did you drink?" Seaman asked.

"Well, hell yeah," Wardlow said.

Wardlow and Seaman had been talking for weeks on the phone to prepare for her arrival.

But before her bags had even make it downstairs, a shoeless Wardlow headed off for one more drink.

"We're going to make a new martini," Wardlow said. "It's called the Lynn's-quitting-drinking-and-going-to-rehab martini. Ready?

Drunken Moms: Tough Recovery Odds

Finally, it was time for Seaman to sign Wardlow into the center.

"Have you ever been to detox?" Seaman asked. The answer was no.

"It's OK, I'm good," said Wardlow, laughing. "I'm drunk, so right now I ain't scared. Give me a day or two, and I'm probably going to be frightened out of my wits."

Over a million people submit to detox and rehab programs for alcohol addiction every year in this country. The odds going into rehab were against Wardlow. Studies show that 90 percent of people in recovery relapse.

Wardlow had a session with Linda Burns, head of nursing at Sunrise Detox.

"How much are you drinking a day, about?" Linda asked.

"Four, five, six ..." replied Wardlow.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse, one third of alcoholics in the United States are women.

Staff at both the Orchid and Sunrise Detox Center told "20/20" that about 95 percent of the women they pick up at the airport are intoxicated upon arrival. Wardlow was no exception.

A Sunrise Detox tech measured Wardlow's blood alcohol content upon admission.

"You're not too bad -- .106," the tech said.

"What does that mean?" said Wardlow. "Would I be arrested?"

"Oh, definitely, yeah."

"I would be arrested."


"Point-zero-8 is the limit, and I'm at point 1-plus over. I'm over the limit to drive a vehicle."

"Yes, you would be wearing nice bracelets."

For the next five days -- standard for alcohol addiction -- Wardlow remained at Sunrise. She was medicated with a drug called librium to eliminate the side effects of withdrawal, which can range from tremors and insomnia to delirium or even seizures.

From day one, Wardlow was restless.

"If you reached in your pocket right now and pulled out a beer, it would be really hard for me not to drink it," she told "20/20." "Quite honestly, it would."

By day four, her impatience and boredom reached all-time highs.

"I have not had a good morning," she said, talking to a portable camera "20/20" gave her to document her journey. "I have cried on more than one occasion today. I have come to the realization that this is the closest thing to a jail that I have ever been in."

But it was only the beginning of a long and difficult journey.

The next step for Wardlow was the Orchid Recovery Center, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center designed specifically to treat women.

"We're just glad you're here, Lynn," said an Orchid staff member who welcomed her.

"Thank you," said Wardlow. "I'm glad I'm here too."

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