Examining Rehab with Dr. Drew (Episode 8)

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Dr. Drew’s weekly commentary on Celebrity Rehab continues! After the jump, the hardest-working doctor in showbiz talks about the group’s unraveling, Jessica’s meeting with prostitutes and how he was able to offer free sober-living treatment to the group.

The first order of business this episode is the food fight. You tell the group, “I’m done.”

celebrity_rehab_8_3.jpgThat was genuinely how I was feeling. However, it was a very calculated move. I had limited time, they were unraveling and I had to be like a surgeon stopping the bleeding. I had to figure out a way to really get their attention and turn it around, and that was the technique I used to tell them how sick I was of fighting their disease. If they didn’t want to fight it themselves, I had nothing left for them. It was a way to get them to have spontaneous motivation, and they did. We talked about how addicts, when leaving treatment, tend to demean the experience. In this case, they weren’t just doing that, they were demeaning the staff as a way of preparing for separation. There was a lot of that going on. I didn’t even realize how much of it was going on until I saw some of the footage.

You said that you were done, and you led them to believe that you were out of there…

celebrity_rehab_8_4.jpgWell, no. I didn’t lead them to believe anything, I just left them with that. Who knows where it could have gone? I believed I knew where it would go, and I left Bob and Shelly in there, so it wasn’t like they were truly on their own. And they brought it around. Everything was just going the wrong way, between Catalina and the food fight and them not wanting to go to 12-Step meetings. That to me was the worst part. They wouldn’t do the basic stuff of recovery.

Do you know why this group was so resistant to 12-Step?

They were tired, there were unusual circumstances, the situation was very intense and they were scared. There was a discharge coming. They all came in together and they were all leaving together and that was painful and scary to them. It’s not like they were just being truant to be truant. They were conflicted. You see them flip-flopping on the show.

You show them footage of themselves checking in.

celebrity_rehab_8_2.jpgI had to think long and hard about that. The producers and I talked about it a couple of times in different contexts, and I always said no. I didn’t want to traumatize them, and I didn’t see a purpose to it, clinically. But at this point, I felt that there was a reason to do it. And it was extremely useful at this moment. It was like saying: hey, you’re sick. That’s the person who’s telling me what they should be doing right now, that’s who you are. You’re only three weeks out of that, and you’re telling me what you should be doing? That was the point.

It struck me of another example of the televised nature of this rehab actually working in recovery’s favor.

That’s absolutely correct. I would not have had that, had we not had cameras rolling. And they know there’s cameras rolling when I do my thing, that they will be held accountable for having burned out their doctor and then not doing anything therapeutic in response to it. I think that’s positive. The cameras help.

I also feel like if you live in public, it really does make sense to heal in public.

Well, that’s sort of a philosophical point, but even on a pragmatic level, when you know that you can’t bulls*** because it’s being caught on camera, it’s hard to bulls***. And that’s how addicts get by: by bulls***ing. And make no mistake: these are good people. They want to have done something positive. They really feel good about that. One of the weaknesses about that is that now they get very guilty around me if they’re not in perfect recovery.

You mentioned flip-flopping: Jessica seems to do so after the meeting with the prostitutes. She talks to her grandmother after and calls the experience “stupid.”

celebrity_rehab_8_7.jpgIn my opinion, the whole thing was a swing and a miss. I really was trying desperately to get her to empathize with her mother, but this situation was a little too intense for her. I could see it the moment when she sat down. I tried to get us out of it as fast as I could, but it really hit her pretty hard. Now, in the long run, it turned out to be fine. She thinks about it a lot, and it was a vivid moment for her. But boy, was it dangerous. You retraumatize someone like Jessica, you have a big problem.

Shelly shares her story in this episode, and everyone really takes to her history. Why wasn’t her history as an addict revealed earlier?

celebrity_rehab_8_9.jpgIt’s not our business to out someone’s recovery. It’s an anonymous program. They choose their own time to share that. Bob comes right out with it. They ask me and I’m not, and we move on. But generally, any good program has recovering people in it. You can anticipate that.

When to talk to Chyna about her uncertainty about addiction, you say that addiction isn’t defined by frequency, it’s about consequences.

celebrity_rehab_8_10.jpgAbsolutely. It’s: Do you have a family history? If you do, you already have a 50 percent probability of having the potential to be an addict. Then, if you have a relationship with a substance that you have trouble controlling in the face of consequences, I don’t care if those consequences are once a year, you got it. Whether you need treatment and what kind of treatment is a different question.

So, say someone doesn’t have it in their history, but they get drunk every once in a while and act out stupidly. Could they be an addict?

celebrity_rehab_8_11.jpgYeah. There’s such thing as alcohol abuse without addiction. That person will not do that forever and certainly won’t get worse. I guess the key ingredient is progression. Are there progressive consequences and progressive use despite consequences. Things get worse over time. With someone who does stupid thing with alcohol here and there, usually it gets better. That’s part of being a human being: when things don’t go well, you pull back. You don’t step it up. Addicts step it up.

The last major point of the episode is your announcement that everyone’s sober-living treatment will be paid for.

celebrity_rehab_8_12.jpgThat was awesome. VH1 stepped up so much on this show, and I don’t know if they don’t want the credit, but they have not taken a bow for what they have done. This was not a contrived, planned surprise. We were behind-the-scenes wrangling, trying to figure out how the hell we can find the resources to treat these people because they’d begun the program. When we started this thing, no one had any idea whether, after three days, if we’d still have patients. We had faith in ourselves, but it was still really experimental. When it was clear that there were people willing to continue in treatment, we had to figure out how to pay for it. People like Seth and Jamie and Jessica were down and out. They had no resources, and I started begging. Producers started wrangling and VH1 just stepped it up. They treated several people involved in the casting process deemed by me to be too sick for treatment at the level of care we had. They paid for their treatment and no one knows about that! They stepped it up ethically. They listened to me, and no one ever celebrity_rehab_8_13.jpglistens to me in television! Hats off. You hire a doctor to do TV, you have to listen to him, and they did. I am so grateful to them. Their hearts were in the right place. They really need to take a bow: Jeff Olde and Jill Holmes deserve a bow. I don’t know why they don’t take it. I can say with great clarity: I don’t think that this show could have been done anywhere else. These people had the wisdom and the faith to pull it off.

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  1. Tess says:

    I believe in what you do. I have three brothers from different parents whom are alcoholics and drug addicts. We were raised in the same atmosphere, but I’m a teacher, and they are alcholics and drug addicts. I don’t understand it, other than it has to be genetic.