Erin Brockovich Fights for Teen's Sobriety

Erin Brockovich helped her teenage daughter kick a drug habit.

February 1, 2009, 6:17 PM

Feb. 2, 2009 — -- Erin Brockovich is an internationally known crusader, made famous by Julia Roberts' Oscar-winning turn in the legal clerk's 2000 biopic.

But as Brockovich was gaining fame, triggered by the film's popularity, unbeknownst to her, her teenage daughter was struggling with a secret drug addiction.

Click here to learn the warning signs of drug use.

"When the movie came out, she was gone all the time — either on appearances or interviews or lecturing," said now 17-year-old Elizabeth Brockovich. "That was my time to go crazy, 'cause she wasn't there. I would ditch school; I was driving around with kids that were under the influence."

"I hid it all because my mom is Erin Brockovich," she said.

When Eric Brockovich was home, she was fooled. Her drug-addicted daughter even robbed her.

"You hate to think you were duped, but at some level I was duped," she said.

"I was taking loads of money out of her wallet," Elizabeth Brockovich said.

Her addiction also affected her schoolwork and extracurricular activities.

"My grades went down the toilet," said Elizabeth Brockovich, who first smoked marijuana at the age of 12.

But she said she didn't hit rock bottom until she embarrassed her high school volleyball team while tripping on LSD.

"When the ball came to me during the game, I thought it turned into fire — no joke — and I ran from the ball and I let my whole entire team down. We lost the game. We lost the championships," she said. She also struggled with cocaine and Xanax.

Erin Brockovich said she began to recognize there was a real problem when her daughter started lying.

"Something was saying, 'This isn't making sense. Bad grades. Defiant behavior. Sleep pattern changes.' I started noticing she'd no longer look in my eyes. She definitely lied to me. That was a huge issue," she said.

Even today, Elizabeth Brockovich hasn't come entirely clean with her mother.

"I lied about a lot of things that she still doesn't know about, to this day. I will take those to my grave," she said.

But the woman who earned her reputation by suing an energy giant for contaminating the water of California families, a case that was eventually settled for more than $300 million, didn't give up on her daughter.

She enrolled Elizabeth Brockovich in rehab at Visions, an adolescent treatment center for 12- to 17-year-olds who use drugs and abuse alcohol.

The treatment center is composed of two buildings that sit on 15 acres in the mountains near Malibu, Calif.

"What we do is help the kids start addressing the issues within their families. Taking responsibility, being accountable and getting excited about a new way of life that maybe has eluded them for one reason or another," John Lieberman, Visions' director of operations, said.

The center doesn't allow any more than 10 teens at a time and patients live there full time. A stay can last between 45 and 90 days. But this treatment comes with a heavy price tag — $1,200 a day.

"The greatest thing I learned here was to just be yourself. No matter what," Elizabeth Brockovich said.

The teen currently is in recovery, but if she relapses, her mother said she will fight beside her.

"I will fight for her to the end -- again. And we'll do it together and stronger than ever and, hopefully, we won't have to go there," Eric Brockovich said.

"I love her and I'm her parent and I will be there for her," she said, holding back tears.

Elizabeth Brockovich said she's not cured, but is functioning.

"I'm definitely not cured forever, but today I can tell you I'm going to be sober because I'm happy and content with myself and who I am. If I do take it one day at a time, then I could be sober for the rest of my life," she said.

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