Dr. Drew’s weekly commentary on Celebrity Rehab continues! After the jump, the doctor to the stars talks the group’s instantaneous bond, romanticizing drugs and alcohol and his fearlessness in the face of extreme behavior like this:
No. That’s like saying, “You shouldn’t put cardiac patients all together because it’s too intense.” We have specialized people that are there that are officially trained to handle that sort of thing. My main job is running a detox ward. That’s mostly what I do.
Yeah. It gives them a level of comfort. But generally, we prefer people not to know anyone when they come into treatment. We don’t want them to edit. We want them to feel free to be open about everything. You certainly don’t put husbands and wives or children and parents in rehab together. Never that kind of thing.
Immediately, the group formed a bond. They applauded when Jeff came back from the hospital.
Amazing. Amazing, the kind of work they did and how fast it happened. During those first three or four days, I was actually concerned about that. You don’t want people to do too much evocative treatment. It just stirs them up and makes them want to get loaded. It’s the kind of thing that makes people leave because it’s too intense. Plus, you don’t want to re-traumatize them. They’re very raw, they’re all trauma survivors and they were immediately getting into some very heavy stuff. They were zooming down that path fast and then were gratified by it and wanted more. It was, “The group! The group! The group!” I started having to back off on the one-on-ones, too. Part of narcissism is they want to be gratified, they want the intense experience as part of the deal, and you have to slow them down a bit. I think we balanced them out pretty well.
Yeah, it’s almost always family-oriented. The people in the group start representing to others objects in their past. And this is an opportunity, then, to explore that in a safe environment where they feel the support of other group members, who share similar experiences.
Jeff talks about drinking and you refer to his references as “romantic.”
Oh yeah, Jeff was constantly romancing his drugs. One patient of mine said to me two days ago, “Literally, I could marry Vicodin. I am in love with it.” That’s their thing – that part of the brain where we experience love is activated in these people’s brains.
That sort of “romantic” discourse regarding substance, is that frowned upon in rehab?
Yeah. It’s evocative to the other patients, it makes them want to use, it doesn’t serve any function. It’s like, hey, romance it, but then we try to get them to look at what it’s really doing to them. What’s not important is how they feel about it, but what it’s doing to their lives.
That’s a different thing. That’s bravado. “You got a DUI? Well I hit somebody with a DUI.” “Well, I killed three people.” They’re just trying to outdo each other with their drug stories. That’s just something that happens in treatment.
But again, is that frowned upon?
I’m not sure if “frowned upon” is the right term. We might redirect that to reality. We’re trying to keep them grounded. So it would be like, “Really? You’re proud of that?” It’s important to confront them on the way they are thinking. It’s all stinking thinking, they call it.
It was in the middle of the night, so I lost my cool driving up there, probably. But once I get to the patients I’m OK. I may lose it when the nurse calls, but I know the patients are sick and I’m there to try to help the best I can. I don’t remember being firm or aggressive with any of the patients on the show, but I can get very, very intense with patients, generally. I don’t get harsh or denigrating, but I’ll be firm: “Hey, cut the bulls***.”
The only thing that was scary was whether he was in the proper environment. Once I had him in the hospital he went to, it was routine after that. That’s the highest level of care, and you’re not going to handle anything at that point. I can handle anything. Believe me, I’ve seen everything, I can do anything. There’s nothing I can’t handle. But the environment has to be right for me to be able to do that. I have to have the right equipment and nursing staff to handle it. Nothing scares me in detox. That’s one of the nice things about…being me (laughs). Really, though. It’s a scary disease and if you don’t know where you are every second, it will bowl you over. You gotta know exactly what you’re doing every moment or your head will explode. You’ll start spinning around like a top. And that’s just the medical aspects of the disease. For the interpersonal thinking and motivational aspects of the disease, you’ll notice that I never sit with a patient, or at least I try not to, alone. I always have someone in there with me. What they experience in that moment is unpredictable. They may come out and say, “Dr. Pinsky touched me inappropriately.” I have to have someone sitting there to know that that didn’t happen, because you never know what an addict is going to experience. Even under the most skillful hands, a patient will try to split and that splitting behavior dictates: “I need get out of here, this guy doesn’t know what he’s doing…so I can go get loaded.”
Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew show page