As seen in this week’s episode (and in last week’s extras), Dr. Charles Sophy is the lead psychiatrist of the Celebrity Rehab/Sober House team. And though he pops up occasionally on screen, Dr. Sophy tells us he was on hand throughout the filming of this season of Sober House. Below, he gives us his take on this season and working with Jenn, whom he was called in to advise after last week’s blow-up with Mike Starr.
What did you think of the tumultuous nature of Sober House this season?
It surprised all of us. I think it’s been a lot more difficult than we thought and it taught us a lot that we knew but weren’t aware of.
Had you been evaluating everyone all along?
Yes, I had done their initial psychiatric evaluations as they came into rehab and then checked on them regularly.
Where does your work with them differ from what we see them doing with Drew in group?
I think my stuff is much more psycho-dynamically geared towards them. I would talk about basically who they are as people, how they get to the point that they are triggered to use, whether it is more of a disease process in their body or genetics or triggered from self-medication. I would also look at them to see if they have other issues going on, like depression, anxiety, ADHD, or bipolar disorder — things that they may be missing or self-medicating in a bad way.
Is it difficult for you, then, to treat Jennie, whose focus is much more on the sex-addition side of things?
It’s hard because once there is an ingrained behavior, like a shopping addiction or sex, in her case, it’s a hard addiction to break. You are not only addicted to a behavior, it’s a really intense feeling that you are addicted to as well. It’s a double whammy.
What did you take away from your evaluation of Mike?
What I took away is Mike is a lot more disturbed than I think anybody really thought going into the sober house. He was in a less structured facility without a lot of supervision and was expected to step up to that next level of care. He was expected to take care of himself and own himself, and he wasn’t able to it.
He said that authority figures were stressful to him – did you get the feeling you were causing him stress while evaluating him?
I present myself in a different way than other authority figures. I needed to be a safe place for him if I was ever going to be able to treat him. I need to be a neutral authority instead of an overbearing authority. And that’s the part of treatment that has to be delicately danced around.
We also see you come in to help counsel Jenn after her blow-out with Mike Starr. What did you make of that situation?
I felt that it was unfair to both of them. They were both in a situation and they didn’t even realize how they got there. It just escalated to that point. There was too much emotion. I think sitting there with Jenn and letting her emote, even though it was pretty loud and aggressive… it was good for her to let it out and realize that we can move forward and fix it. But keep in mind that the context is that this guy is worse than probably anybody thought. And the end result is that we got the help that Jenn needed.
Did you think she might need that extra support all along?
I always knew that she needed more support. As they get to that sober house stage, more of their personalities and mental health stuff starts to emerge. That’s the way it goes. I saw that this group at the initial take in rehab had a lot of personality stuff going on. And at this point, I think it was exhausting to her. She was physically exhausted and that wears her down.
She’s talked about not being able to reach out to you, I assume due to the show’s restrictions.
After speaking with her and knowing that she had a higher level of support, you were confident things would go smoothly?
Yes, I knew that with two people in the house, especially with one that was not tired and stronger to allow the other one to take a backseat a little bit, rest and get her stride again, that the house would continue to run then.
This is, without question, a more difficult group than the first season, right?
Absolutely. There were a lot more mental health issues with this group, a lot more personality issues, and a lot more mood and anxiety issues.
And since that’s the case, did you predict the level of tumult the house would end up reaching?
I thought it was going to be maybe a bit more aggressive. At one point, I thought somebody was going to get hurt. I was shocked that nobody fell off a balcony or got hurt in a shuffle or something like that. I was happy to see that people maintained their personal control for the most part.
With those concerns in mind, it sounds like such a dangerous scenario to foster.
Well, you assess as you go. To Drew’s credit, we were able to pull it together with the production company and really assess it. When Drew and I were able to say it to them, “Hey guys, this is getting wrapped up, we need to put security in place,” we certainly did that then. Loesha was one of them. I came in, too — there were days I was there till midnight. We certainly put things in place.
It’s interesting that you were so hands-on because viewers really have no sense of that.
I wish they did because it would really help everyone understand that there were precautions in place. We did jump in there. I was there till midnight many nights sitting on the balcony with Mike working him through, talking him through stuff.
Is it safe to say that Mike was your main point of focus?
He became my main point of focus halfway through Sober House.
Anyone else you worked intensively with?
Jenn: helping her cope, getting her through, supporting her. Those two became the focus for three quarters of it for me because it was really about keeping him safe. Also, from my assessment, if I could get him in tact than the others would unravel less. He was scaring everybody with his stuff.
Do you think that having cameras up in this volatile mix helped or hurt the process?
I think it helped. I think it will help show the world that there is a significant amount of stuff that can go on after the initial rehab. Just because the drugs are gone, the alcohol is gone, just they are not in your body and are not in your life necessarily, it doesn’t mean that the residuals aren’t still there. There are mental health problems. There are personality issues.
And I guess the cameras provided a safeguard, right? I mean, Jenn didn’t have immediate help, but there were always a set of eyes on her and whatever was going on.
Yes, absolutely. It wasn’t a misguided thing where we were just watching people, waiting to see if they were going to walk into a wall.
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Sober House with Dr. Drew videos and extras
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