Criticizing Rehab with Dr. Drew

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This weekend, the New York Times ran an article regarding VH1′s Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, that included input from the titular M.D., as well as an overview of the criticism that the show has received. In a nutshell, here’s how the Times summed up the ill feelings some people have for a show that publicizes celebs’ struggles with addiction and rehabilitation:

Since the debut of Celebrity Rehab last month, Dr. Pinsky has been criticized by bloggers, recovering addicts, the news media and addiction specialists among others, who question his motivation for doing the show and challenge his confessional treatment methods, which seem to play to the television cameras.

“I’m not confident that people who are patients, if you want to call them that, are in the best position to make decisions for themselves relative to such theatrics,” said William C. Moyers, the executive director of the Center for Public Advocacy at Hazelden, a nonprofit rehabilitation and recovery center.

The VH1 series, Mr. Moyers said, was “yet another example of the dumbing down and trivialization of a very serious chronic illness that robs people of their dignity and respect.”

While this sort of criticism is expected and understandable, considering the delicate nature of the show and people’s sensitivity regarding its topic, what its critics (and the article itself, for that matter) don’t seem to take into consideration is that having these people rehab in front of cameras actually enriched the experience. Or at least, that’s how Dr. Drew made it sound when we talked to him about the show’s first episode. Regarding Chyna’s dubious addiction (and thus, the question as to why she was on the show in the first place), Dr. Drew told us:

Her bewilderment as to why she was there only bewildered us more. Are you acting? Are you here because you want to be on TV? What’s her motivation? But that motivation helped us sometimes. Normally, when you push on people in treatment, they just leave. They go use. In this case, [almost] nobody left. Everybody wanted to stay to be on TV. That’s a pretty cool thing. And that same mechanism is in play now. People are careful to stay sober because they know people are watching. And that’s great for the patients.

The medium isn’t necessarily a problem — it could very well be part of the solution. [New York Times]

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