Our scene-specific blog commentary on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew continues. Below, the doctor talks about the main points of the episode, among them: Friends & Family weekend, Amber’s checkered past and a breakthrough with Gary that didn’t make it to air.
Before we talk about the episode, I want to ask you a question that regularly crops up in the blog comments, but that I’ve never asked you: why are the patients allowed to indulge in their smoking addictions?
In California, I’m required by law to give people a place to smoke. It’s in what’s called Patient’s Rights. I offer every single patient CHANTIX and most of them refuse it. Brigitte Nielsen from last season is the only one who successfully stopped smoking also. Although the old wisdom in addiction treatment was that you deal with the smoking later, current research shows that you’re more likely to stay off your drug of choice if you address smoking at the same time. So I address it with every single one, but I’m obliged by law to let them kill themselves with cigarettes.
Also, Mary Carey showed up on an online extra recently, and hers is not necessarily a “success story.” She says that she’s “60 percent better.” Did you bring her in to show the current patients that rehabilitation is an ongoing process?
Yes. It’s important for them to see her ongoing struggle and to look at rehab realistically. Even somebody who’s motivated has trouble getting all the way there.
So, the biggest revelation in this episode is Amber’s prostitution past.
Something that didn’t get on camera happened when I was talking to Amber’s mom while she was being treated at the hospital. That hospital eventually stopped allowing us to bring in cameras. I addressed this with the mom and she said, “Well, [the johns] were nicer to her than anybody.” My god, you know? You try to survive when you’re an addict, you’ll go to any length.
Tawny’s response is, “I’m mad at your mom.”
She was angry with Amber’s mom for empathic failure, for dealing with Amnber like an object and not a person. But what came out of that was that Tawny started talking about how angry her daughter must have been with her. I thought that was pretty interesting that it kinda cuts both ways. It’s never black and white with relationships and addiction. Everyone has their role to play.
Is Friends & Family Weekend helpful for you in giving these people treatment? Does it allow you to sort out their family situations, since up till then, you’re often just hearing it from one side?
Yes, it’s always very different from the family’s perspective. And I’m always ready to hear it. It’s an interpersonal disorder, so it effects everybody and everybody needs to participate.
Rodney’s daughters couldn’t make the Friends & Family Weekend, but you brought them in anyway. Why was it so important to have them in?
Rodney’s ashamed of his addiction and he hides it. It’s important that he lets his daughters see him all the time because they will help him in his recovery. He didn’t want to see his dad drinking, and his assumption is his daughters don’t want to see him drinking, either. In reality, they want to be around him no matter what his condition is. They get scared to death when he disappears because then they know he’s drinking.
At the start of the weekend, Amber’s mom passes out. How was her recovery coming along at that point?
She’d just come out of the ICU, She was just barely up and around. I had her on five different blood-pressure medications. She became overcome by the heat, her blood pressure dropped and she passed out. Up to that point, she was coming along slow and steady. I was looking forward to working with her during the family groups. But it was OK. She was committing to treatment, going to meetings and following directions.
Did talking to anyone at Friends & Family besides Gary leave any great impression on you?
While I was talking to Nikki and her husband, her kids were sitting inside the mansion at the window. Tawny and her daughter were very powerful. I admire the daughter’s courage: wherever we wanted to go, she as ready. Tawny wasn’t as comfortable. With Steven and his wife, I told her: “Steven’s going on tour? He’s dead. You’re standing over his grave. What do you say? How do you feel?” We eulogized him. and the whole time, Steven was saying, “Naw man, don’t do that. Don’t go there.” But we did it.
What follows is service on the beach Did you hold it on a beach because the restaurant was such a trigger for Brigitte last season?
Yeah. Although, Shawn and Steven just took off and went in the water. They’re patients. They’re on a field trip, but they’re still expected to play by the rules. Basic compliance with the program.
The show ends with dinner. When Gary toasts, he talks about his personal journey, how he finally reached his point of knowing that he needed rehab. Was this a breakthrough for him, or is it just the first time the at-home audience is seeing him say this?
That was where Gary was. I wasn’t surprised he stood up and said that, especially after this profound moment he and I shared the day before at the Friends & Family workshop. It was one of the most positive moments out the show’s entire run for me. You know, Gary had one positive moment with his dad, where he acknowledged that Gary was a competent person. I said, “Gary, I see that in you.” And he froze because no one besides his dad had been able to reach in and touch him like that. I was able to channel Gary’s father for him and he went into a fugue state. He just froze. He didn’t come out of it for a few minutes and then once he did, he said, “Oh my god, I’m seeing things more clearly. I’m more accepting of things. I’m imagining a bog of ice melting and witches flying away. It was a very powerful moment. For me, that’s why I carry a special relationship with Gary. At that moment, he and I formed a very mutual bond.