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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  1. lunkerhead says:

    I spent 9 mths. in rehab.9 mths.of soul searching and admitting to the fact that I was not in control of my life.9 mths of facing down the things i’d done to not only myself but more importantly to others.9 mths of coming to an understanding that i am not the all powerful person i thought i was.I have been sober since 12/26/02 and it pains me to no end to see the joke you made out recovery.The people who ran the rehab i went to made it very clear that this was a life and death struggle.For you it seemed more of a joke,a way to keep yourself in the public eye.No offense but your help seemed to be less than interested in the recovery of those “stars”,Do the world a favor,if you want to put garbage on tv go ahead.Leave the serious things in life alone.You obviously have no real interest in the lives of those people except for monetary gain.

  2. little one says:

    5 years sober and i still feel the pain,of course ounce embaressesment but now a desperate need to forget. i feel horrible inside like completeing a simple task makes me (#)+ so i was interested when this showed aired to see if they would truely show withdraw and then to see people who were once addicts working living wiithout self doubt

  3. Skawski says:

    After watching this show, I can only say I’m amazed that anyone would participate in this kind of experience. Truly, only in America, where “recovery” & “addiction” aren’t deemed as such shameful
    afflictions to “keep behind closed doors” and of course in celebrity-ville, addiction can actually have its benefits (at a huge cost). This show is indulgent, ugly and cliched on every level, whilst making compulsive viewing, albeit in the same way a car crash would….On a positive note, if a family member or someone related to an addict/alcoholic watches this, then it is indeed educational. However, anyone needing treatment – could run a mile doing 90 in the opposite direction. Recovery should be shrouded with anonymity, for many, many reasons. I would say further that Dr Drew “talks the talk & walks the walk” and does know his stuff, he is astute in many fields as well as insightful – his team seem sane and well, its just an obscure way to get sober. Would anyone real hire these people after doing this- it seems like profession suicide.

  4. zookie's mom says:

    I like the show and find it motivating, so much that I’ve come to believe that I have an addiction problem with marijuana and I am going to take steps to stop using. I think the show provides more of a service to the viewers than people realize by making them take a look at themselves and realizing that there is help for them too.

  5. angela brown says:

    Dr.Drew,
    i am hoping you get a chance to read this and maybe respond. I am a recovering addict and have been sober about 9 years or so. With that being said i have to take a moment to ask you what the hell were you thinking having a woman 2 1/2 years sober run a sober house. to see what she has dragged all of the residents through makes me sick. she has brought them on a spree looking for seth plunging them right into addict behavior. let alone the fact that she informs them all of everyones eles information instead of providing them with the stability they need to recover. what happened with steven was sad but it did not give her the right to tell them everyone of his moves that night he was arrested. same goes for what happened with seth. if anything she should be focusing on the rest of the residents in the house and providing them with the support they need to cope with it all sober. i believe you have put them all in danger by having a newly sober woman run a house for addicts. i beg of you next time to have someone with a bit more time under the belt. addicts need rules to be set and kept at first, not someone to bend rules and let clients suffer the abuse of another addict living in the same housE. please learn from this and make the proper changes as needed. i feel so badly for the hand you dealt to all of the residents in that house, they did not receive the proper attention and guidance they so deserved.
    thank you please respond if you get a chance you can also send me a private email if need be. angela