Examining Sober House With Dr. Drew With…Dr. Drew

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Below is a primer for the second season of Sober House with Dr. Drew, which premieres tonight on VH1 at 10/9c (but is available for viewing online now). In our interview with Drew on the series, he talks about the assembled patients, combining those from Sex Rehab with those from Celebrity Rehab 3, the tumult of the season (as suggested by the show’s supertrailer) and, of course, the drama that tends to swirl wherever Kari Ann Peniche goes.

All signs point to this season of Sober House being tumultuous, at best. Do you think this season works as a model example of the worst-case scenario for sober living?

Sober living is supposed to be an intermediate stage between treatment and rejoining the world. It’s a place where people spend six to 12 to 24 months just going to meetings and learning to get up out of bed and do their laundry. That’s really all they should do for the first six months. If you throw in trying to get a job, and the stress of television cameras all over the place, and God knows what else, it gets a little hairy. Really, I just think this group needed a lot more time of just doing nothing. They were trying to do things and they were in withdrawal when they really needed to just sit back and do nothing. That’s eventually where we kind of end up.

Was there anyone from Celebrity Rehab 3 that you think should have signed up for this show but didn’t?

Mackenzie was the only one who shouldn’t have come to Sober House. Lisa didn’t need it, but would have benefited, and Mindy would have benefited. I thought Joey should have done it. I was sorry they didn’t do it.

Jennie is there not just because of sex addition, but also because of her substance issues, right? It’s not completely addressed on the premiere, but she does talk about that on her blog.

When you start getting into treatment for sex addiction, you usually find some kind of concomitant chemical addiction. And there are sober livings for sex addiction, too. Sex addition and substance addiction aren’t technically put together [in sober living], but you could. In Kendra’s case we uncovered a big chemical problem. That kind of came out during sober living. In Jennie’s case it wasn’t such a big deal. She had already been looking at it and going to AA meetings. She does have a chemical issue but her primary issue is still sex addiction.

Any thoughts on Tom Sizemore showing up to Sober House with a crack pipe?

I believed that he didn’t know he’d brought it. He had stuff all over the place. He’s a hardcore drug addict. He has something in every corner. Remember when he hid around the place when he first came to the Pasadena Recovery Center? He’s good. You never know when you might need some crack.

With this lower level of care, were there renewed concerns about having him in the same environment as Heidi Fleiss?

Their relationship was pretty good for most of the treatment [in Celebrity Rehab 3]. It started unraveling at the end and I kind of didn’t believe it because they were doing so well. I thought Heidi was taking things out on Tom when he was down. With them in Sober House, I expected things to kind of be OK and they of sort of were and sort of weren’t. I thought we could keep them maintain civilly and they kind of kept committed to it, by saying, “We’re fine. We’re gonna be cool. We’re good.”

Her final, damning speech to Tom in Celebrity Rehab 3 seemed to come out of left field.

That wasn’t the editing, either. It really was out of left field. I was shocked. I was just blown away. To be fair, Tom was sick most of the time and he wasn’t interacting a lot with her. I just thought it was a little flare-up, that it would be OK. I was kind of right and kind of wrong.

Mike comes into Sober House just off a relapse.

Mike is such a difficult case. His relapse was relatively mild, and he had been very motivated. Relapse is a part of his story, so with him our plan was: bring him in, settle him down.

Dennis comes in recharged with reluctance.

It was bizarre. It was like we were meeting for the first time all over again. “What do you mean, rules?” “What do you mean, ‘What do you mean?’ You are back in a treatment environment, Dennis. What are you talking about?” It was very bewildering. I just thought it was posturing and trouble for trouble’s sake.

Maybe that’s the way he interacts with new environments.

Interpretation is something I don’t waste time on. My attitude is: let’s just get through it.

I know that Sex Rehab, Celebrity Rehab 3 and this second season of Sober House were all shot back-to-back. Had Jennie and Kendra been in sober living between Sex Rehab and this show?

No, they’ve been out. Jennie had been working very hard in her recovery. They were kind of close friends, I thought. That relationship started having more trouble than any relationship [on the show]. I don’t know how much of that will make it to TV, but they really unravel.

Is there any precedent for taking off between rehab and sober living?

Each patient was dealt with differently. If I recall properly, Tom and Mike, for example, were put into a hospital, a residential facility, in between.

And Mike still relapsed?

There was a lot going on. I would have to look at the records to remember exactly what went on. My recollection is that I had them both over at Las Encinas. Mike, I think, just left, just took off and relapsed and he was willing again and came back to sober living. Each one was managed individually. Some stayed in treatment, some were able to go home. Some of them wouldn’t follow my direction but were sober enough to be able to go to sober living.

And then, there’s Kari Ann again. I know that you explain on the show that her extremely difficult behavior has to do with her meth relapse.

She is crazy on meth. She’s really bad. At that point, I was not clear that she was appropriate for this level of care. I had grave doubt. There’s a reality side to this, which is you do have somewhat of a distorted view of Kari Ann. On Celebrity Rehab 3, things were not as bad as they looked. On Sex Rehab and Sober House, though, they were. To be fair to Kari Ann, Sex Rehab was the wrong environment for her. Reasonably so, though: she is a sex addict. It’s not as though she shouldn’t have been there, it just wasn’t the right environment for her. In Celebrity Rehab, I know it’s hard for you to believe, but she did do well at first. She really did well and I was hopeful, and I wanted to give her a chance at Sober House. I didn’t know what the hell she had been doing in the days between, but what I was hearing kind of good things: that she was OK and Mindy was with her and blah blah blah. I was wrong.

She arrives to the house exhibiting her worst behavior.

Again, to give Kari Ann a break, I thought that she and Jenn maybe weren’t going to go so well. Part of that is Jenn, not that there is anything wrong with Jenn — I just knew their personalities were not going to work together. That’s some of what was going on, too.

So when you were addressing the group at the end of the first episode, what was going through your head? Had your hope diminished at that point?

No, it was basically the same: let’s start the process, get everybody landed, let’s get the treatment going. When you are putting eight or nine people together all at the same time, it adds a layer of stress for me. But it’s nothing surprising.

You often say that regarding these patients’ behavior. “Nothing new under the sun.”

Right, nothing new under the sun. Its just drug addicts being drug addicts. This was a scary season for me but I ended up feeling good about the experience that people had. It required much more intensive professional services than the usual sober living environment and we provided them. We did it because they needed them. I just recreated a treatment team and we gave very intensive services to them and it turned out OK. It was a little rocky getting going. I’m glad I’m not in it right now.

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