Cameron Douglas on the profound impact his severe drug use had on his family: Part 1

Doulgas told ABC News’ Diane Sawyer that he was “probably pretty close” to dying at the peak of his drug use and his Oscar-winning father Michael Douglas describes the moment he almost gave up hope.
11:46 | 10/23/19

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Transcript for Cameron Douglas on the profound impact his severe drug use had on his family: Part 1
Is it a kinda miracle you're okay? I like-- I like the sound of that word. It sounds good. We'll see if I can turn it into that. That remains to be seen. This is a story of a family part of the ruling class of Hollywood. For decades nothing out of reach. The most beautiful nights. The most beautiful houses from the lush gardens of California to the 247 acres on the cliffs of mallorca Spain and all around, all those beautiful people. It's strange growing up seeing your father and grandfather as giants projected on screens and bill- boards. How do you compete with Kirk Douglas? How do you live in Michael Douglas's shadow? A child of that family is standing in the hall getting ready to tell the story of how far he traveled before he could see his way back home. Three years ago, Cameron Douglas was released from prison. I hate to keep a beautiful woman waiting. Now 40, he was confined seven years behind bars, including maximum security and was confined seven years behind bars including in maximum security and nearly two years in solitary confinement. Do I have this right? When you were 13 you were smoking pot. When you were 15 you were snorting cocaine. When you were 17 you had sampled crystal meth, 19 liquid cocaine, 26 heroin? How close were you to dying? Probably pretty close. As Cameron Douglas talks, it's hard not to be distracted. Look at the faces of the three generations, that dynasty of Douglas men. His grandfather not only played the invincible spartacus. He was the star who made 87 films including that huge hit 20,000 leagues under the sea. The family signature a kind of tough glamor. Greed for lack of a better word is good. His father, a powerhouse producer. Hit making actor. You said, "I wanted to impress him. I wanted him to be my friend. I revered him." Goodnight, Cameron, I love you! Yeah. His new book is called "Long way home." He paints a portrait of his childhood looking out at adults with intoxicating substances, the pulse of ambition and flirtation and very few rules. So when in the life of a happy child does something begin to go wrong. His father's career has exploded. Long stretches away from home and everyone had read those rumors. Eight years into the marriage, mom learned that dad was having a fling with. He says when he is seven years old, his mother, diandra, tells him about her anguish. She says to you, "He's with somebody else. What are we going to do?" It's a Lotta responsibility at seven years old. He's 13 years-old when he is sent off to boarding school and writes of his home sickness and about how dad's racy movies are getting him bullied. "I'm starting to catch some more flack from basic instinct." Yeah. At boarding school he writes, he tried his first marijuana with another student I think just trying to-- to test myself on a regular basis. He gets kicked out of boarding schools, comes back home where he joins up with a menacing group of kids who call themselves the sewer rats. I usually had a buck-knife or switchblade on me. The drugs there are cocaine, crystal meth. His parents are alarmed. There are wilderness camps. He goes to juvenile facilities. Even Hazelton rehab. --We count-- you will be in and out and of rehabs 11 times before you're in your mid-20s. Why did nothing work? Because I wasn't ready to change. Do you blame your parents? No-- Is there some, an ounce of blame? There are millions and millions of-- of little kids that have it way worse off than that little kid did. A father comes to join us to talk about that awful dance, of drugs, lies, broken promises, hope and despair. Do you look back and say, "The one thing I think maybe I could have tried was--?" You know, I-- I'm just, you know, laughing because you-- you rack your brain and- You take it personally in the beginning. You-- you start blaming yourself. That's your choice, honey, that has nothing to do with me. My career came before my family- What's on your mind, kemosabe? My marriage was not great, and so you do hide yourself-- in your work. I should have-- you know, focused more on my family, but that's-- that's-- that's hard to say when you're in the midst of a career, but you are-- you're in your own mind stepping out of your father's shadow, trying to create a life for-- for your own. In a family rescue mission, grandfather and father invite Cameron who has a gift for acting to co-star in a movie with them - as long as he goes to rehab first. The movie is called "It runs in the family." Look at that thing! You knew you were good in it? Yes. Yeah. Hey everybody! He even got to play scenes with one of his favorite people on Earth his actual grandmother and what about that young beautiful mother? She is still very much a part of his life. Divorced from his dad, but moving on with young children from another relationship and his dad marries Catherine zeta-jones. They have two young children of their own and she warmly reaches out to Cameron to be with them though sometimes he just doesn't show. She's always been a big supporter of me and-- and have been extremely loving and inclusive-- even in the midst of-- of all my craziness, So look again at his double life, smiling with his family and retreating where he is playing dice with death. A friend has shown him a new way to use cocaine - inject it as a liquid into his veins. Your blood brings it up into your tongue, and you can taste it. People call it a bell ringer, because you literally hear bells ringing in your head. He is using two to three times an hour. The needles scar his veins, they're collapsing, first in his arms, then in his legs. At one point you do your ribcage. My ribcage, my neck-- You shot cocaine into your neck? Yes. He has three seizures - every injection pushing him closer to overdose and he's so paranoid from the cocaine that sometimes he holes up in his closet for days. He is hiding from his father. The famous father we watch looking glamorous, thinking he must be living a trouble-free life, but in reality, he's despairing for his child. Just like so many other parents across the country tonight. Trying to figure out what to do what to do what to do. It's like having jekyll and Hyde live in your house. Trying to save his life. Never seen him as bad as he is. I don't know what else to do and he's missing in action right now. He has made a decision. He manages to reach his son on the phone to say, "I love you. You're my son. I think you're going to die." Either gonna kill somebody or you were gonna get killed. We had-- had-we've-- had-- reached a point where I thought I was gonna lose him, based on everything-- I'd seen and-- was not willing to emotionally commit any more. And you said, don't you love me anymore, dad? Those words were heartbreaking to me. At what point do you protect yourself or your other-- loved ones around you before you're getting-- get dragged into this and it falls apart. It destroys you. It just destroys you. Police find heroin in his car and arrest him, but he manages to get off with a sentence to rehab classes. You had available money. You were not gonna starve. You were not gonna be out on the street. Right. So as his dad limits the money Cameron says he had to do something to get the drugs his body craved. In the past he's experimented with robbery, putting on a mask. A drug fueled raid on a liquor store. Then a motel where an elderly woman is behind the desk, and he takes her twenty dollars. The lowest point. And now he's going to target drug dealers, and he brings a weapon. How close did you come to killing someone? I don't know. I don't know. I know I couldn't, but I don't But you had a Glock at one point. The-- in the headspace that I was in during these times in my life, it was definitely a possibility, but thank god, it never-- it never happened. And at this time he is scrambling to learn a new trade; trafficking drugs across the country. He packages crystal meth as bath salts in gift baskets. His communications are in code, his equipment encrypted. A knock on the door at the hotel in New York City. I had asked my girlfriend if it looked like there were agents or detectives. And she said, "No," and I said, "You sure?" She said, "100%," and I opened the door to a central casting Dea agent. Here he is, special agent Justin meadows. At that time, a Dea agent of seven years. That was the moment that I knew it was-- it was over, you know? And they-- they actually grabbed me by-- my shirt and my neck and pulled me out into the-- the hallway. He asks to make his call to his father. Who answers so happy to hear his son's voice, Cameron freezes. I said-- "Not good," but that was about as far as I got. I said, "I'll speak to 'I'm." I believe he was just in a state of shock. Did you think to yourself, "I've just told Michael Douglas that his son has been arrested"? The truth is, is that it didn't matter. I was speaking to a father at that point, I mean, there's no words that can describe the shame, the embarrassment-- that I felt -- Next, what happens to the Hollywood kid during 7 years in prison . To keep from going insane the mind has to figure out how to adapt... We call it the Mother Standard of Care.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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