The Celebreality Interview – A Check-In With Dr. Drew

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We haven’t spoken to Dr. Drew in a while, so we thought it’d be a good time to check in with him about what’s gone down on Celebrity Rehab 3 so far. Below, Drew talks seizures, misanthropy, Sizemore and, in an illuminating turn, Kari Ann’s progress. According to Drew, what you’re seeing on TV is only part of the story…

When we last saw Kari Ann on Sex Rehab, she was being sent away from the Pasadena Recovery Center because she needed a higher level of care.

She needed different care, yes.

She needed different care for sex rehab, or just in general?

Sex rehab. We didn’t know that she was a drug addict. We just knew that something was wrong, something wasn’t working. She needed a different kind of treatment. At that moment, she needed something more intensive. Now, she didn’t go for it, but she survived it. I didn’t know what was going to happen to her. Then she came clean about her drug addiction, so at that point, I offered her treatment for that. If you put someone in the right environment for the right diagnosis, they tend to do a lot better. And she does to a lot better. You don’t see that: the editing is just going to show all of her problems.

Clearly, I’m not a doctor or a psychic, but I could predict that what we end up seeing is what would happen: the fact that she doesn’t get along with people, and that everybody seems to have a problem with her. She seems like a distraction, to me.

Well, the actual distraction she caused lasted maybe two days out of her entire treatment. We tried to get her back in the game, and she actually came around.

I know that you’re completely professional and you don’t hold things against people, but it surprised me that Sex Rehab sort of broke the forth wall in a way when she said, “Dr. Drew, you’re a TV doctor!” and stormed out of the room. She questioned your legitimacy, and you don’t hold that against her, obviously.

No. Given her personality type, she was trying to reach for things that she knew would be the most hurtful. She’s sick and needs help, and I’m a doctor and I help patients. It’s pretty simple. If she’s willing to go with the program and follow instructions and try again. You don’t even want to know the things I’ve seen people do to staff, and we readmit them again. But that’s drug addiction. When people are in their disease, they can be horrible. And guess what? I’ve had people far worse than her, who have made me frightened for my life, who are now people I admire and are doing very well.

Speaking of that, Shelly bore a lot of the brunt of the Kari Ann storm in Sex Rehab, and we see her going through that again. Shelly actually says that Kari Ann has an inability to function in this environment.

She has trouble functioning in this environment, that’s for sure.

Was there ever any question in your mind about what this might do to the good of the group?

She was part of the group. And she was welcome and did well. There were long stretches of time where she didn’t do anything, when nothing happened. She participated.

I’d just like to touch on some other things that happened over the course of the season. Mindy McCready’s seizure was extremely unnerving. She seemed to recover well after that, though?

Yeah, amazingly. She’s had these before, this was not her first seizure. What I was worried about was the shoulder dislocation. You only see her a couple of days later wearing that brace. But there are about four of five days missing on TV, where a lot stuff happened with Kari Ann and Mindy. Good stuff happened, and it just didn’t go on TV. I was afraid that Mindy was going to be on pain meds, because when they reset her shoulder in the hospital, she was screaming. I could hear her screaming outside, it was so painful for her. But she agreed not to use the meds, and she didn’t. She maintained the drug-free environment, and her shoulder did OK. She forgot to tell me that she had a seizure disorder. I was so pissed at her! “Oh, I just forgot…” OK, well, thanks…

I assume Mackenzie was mortified for laughing at Mindy initially.

Oh yeah, it was terrible. And you can see why she thought she was goofing around.

Any overall thoughts on Mackenzie?

I had trouble figuring out why Mackenzie was staying sober. She understood the program, but I didn’t get the sense that there was a deep participation, you know? I eventually got to see the relationships she had operating in her life, and how connected she was to people. And then it became clear to me that she’s able to have real good quality close relationships, and her program has given her that, and that’s why she stayed sober.

There’s something about her that I find myself really drawn to watching it for some reason. She’s just particularly sympathetic to me.

Yeah, she’s awesome. And I think that’s why she came clean with her story: because she wanted to be seen as who she is. Not as, “Oh, just that drug addict. Mackenzie’s in trouble again.”

What about Tom? Here’s something that popped up in the comments a lot: people that that when Monroe kissed him when she came to visit him, she had passed him drugs.

No. I don’t think so. She actually tested clean when she was admitted, if I remember right.

I did think it was surprising that she was the one urging him to stay in rehab.

Yeah, she did. She was a good force for him, and she triggered him. It was a sight to behold. That was something else. What you didn’t see because it didn’t show up on camera was that the sweat was just dripping off his nose. It would just drip off him, he was craving so intensely.

Monroe is a lot more supportive than we’ve seen in other co-dependent relationships.

At this stage, yes. At this stage. With an addict, it’s not as though you can say, “This person is a problem, and this person is a participant.” It changes day to day.

Dennis Rodman finally admitted that he’s an alcoholic in last week’s episode. Did you think that he’s sincere about it?

Yeah. I just don’t think he appreciates what it means. “Yeah, I’m an alcoholic, but it’s still under control. No big deal.” He’s like, “You don’t understand, I’m Dennis Rodman. I’m an alcoholic, but I’m special.” And we call that “terminal uniqueness.” You’ve gotta watch out for that.

I thought that Heidi Fleiss, in a nutshell, was when she came out and says, “Boy, I hate people!”

I don’t believe that. Some people I believe when they say that, but I don’t believe that with her. I believe she may feel that right now, on top of a deep loneliness and emptiness, and she may kind of hate people, but she doesn’t really hate people.

It seems that her very publicized former job would require her to be somewhat of a people person. She has it in her, right?

Yeah, she does have it in her, but to be clear, she has no problem exploiting people. By the same token, she can still appreciate other people’s pain. She really does. I remember that one scene with Mackenzie when she talks about her dad. That was extraordinary. I had never seen that until I saw it on television, and I thought that’s why Heidi is a likable person; she’s got that in her.

In last week’s episode Brigitte Nielsen, Rodney King, Jessica Sierra and Amber Smith visited the current Rehabbers. Would you say that those are the Top 4 Celebrity Rehab success stories?

No. It wasn’t my decision to bring those exact four back. Nikki McKibbin is an extraordinary story, Mike Starr is doing fantastic right now. Heidi may end up being a success story. Jessica may be the biggest success story because she was so bad. I would definitely put Jessica on that list.

Brigitte is always the one that I think of.

Yeah, maybe. But Brigitte struggles. I consider the success stories as not only the people who are not using, but the people who are really engaged in recovery. Then I know there’s not going to be any more trouble. If they’re not actively involved, then I know they’re going to slip around a bit. They’re going to be OK, but stuff’s going to happen, I’m sure. I haven’t had any contact with Rodney for a while, and that makes me nervous. He drifts away with people and does poorly. He may come right on back, but… Jessica spent a year in treatment, sponsored people, went to meetings everyday. Amber’s probably covered the most territory, I think. She had so many emotions, and so much stuff she had to go through. So, for sure, Amber is good. There are a bunch of success stories. Really about half the people are doing quite well.

And that’s against the odds, right?

That’s amazing. Amazing. Remember, these are people that really weren’t motivated. They just wanted to make money and be on TV.

And yet, the naysayers still say nay.

Yeah, they still want to say it’s an exploitation. You know, I think it just triggers in people their own discomfort in watching difficult material. Therefore, because it’s uncomfortable and triggers their own stuff, they don’t want to watch it. It makes them feel like they shouldn’t watch it. I mean, why do you watch plastic surgery shows, or medical shows? They’ve been on TV forever. It’s the same thing.

And sort of what I’ve gathered through the years is that nothing is ideal. Even in the Times Magazine article, you talk about the compromises you have to make, and the greater good that comes out of it.

Yeah.

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