Another season of Celebrity Rehab is upon us, and as usual, we talked to Dr. Drew Pinsky about what to expect from the show. Below, we run through each of the eight patients of the show’s fourth season and Drew gives his initial impressions of the condition of each. We also talk about the high percentage of tabloid-celebs in the cast and Drew lets us know why from his perspective this was the most intense season of the show yet…
It’s interesting that so much of the cast falls on the tabloid side of celebrity – people who’ve been in scandals or whose exploits have been captured the paparazzi.
Yeah, and that created lots of trouble for us during treatment. They would go on their phones and read the bulls*** that’s being said about them. We’re like, “Will you stop it? Why does that matter to you? So what if somebody writes some bulls***?” They define themselves by what is being written about them, it was incredible. Bob and I had a lot of conversations about how this is a new world that way.
There were also a lot of leaks too while there was filming, which I assumed were not necessarily supported by production.
No, I think they were either from the patients or the people the patients were talking to. That was not some sort of clandestine thing [on production's end].
Was grouping these people together just a matter of casting scandal-prone celebs, or are those who regularly show up in the tabloids the ones in most need of rehab?
I think it’s a combo. I think the people that attract that kind of attention are really in trouble. But also, the network makes those calls, of whom they want in the show.
I’d like to go down the cast list and just get your initial impressions on everyone. Janice is the first one we see check in and she comes in calling herself “a hot mess.”
She is a hot mess and she has a much bigger problem with the benzodiazepines that even she knew. She immediately spiraled into a severe benzodiazepines withdrawal. She also has lots of trauma, but lots of desire to get better. So she really trusted us and jumped into the program and actually she’s still in treatment doing extremely well.
Any thoughts on the fact that this is her seventh or so reality show?
A lot of them came in thinking they were just going to get an acting job or they were going to manipulate us. Janice wasn’t sure what to expect but she kind of knew me and she always wanted to work with me and she threw herself into it. This wasn’t so much of a reality show for her. Rachel would say the same thing too, “This is about my life we’re talking about.”
Was Janice’s Ambien use any concern to you?
Of course. That’s the benzodiazepines.
Just from what I’ve witnessed in daily life, I get the feeling that people don’t see Ambien as any kind of a problem drug. Do you find that it should have a worse reputation than it does?
All these medicines should have worse reputations than they do. There’s nothing special about Ambien. The sleeping meds and the benzo’s, they are severely addictive and people just don’t understand that. And if an addict, somebody with a history of alcoholism or addiction, is on one of those medications, their life is in danger, period. I don’t care if it’s a small amount. I don’t care if they’re under doctor’s orders — their life is in harm’s way. Period, end of story. And that is sort of the theme of this season; that people hopefully will take home.
Jason Davis is the next one we see come in and he comes in with a series of very intense burns.
He’s got a lot of medical problems I have to take care of: he’s diabetic, he’s got leg issues, he’s got the body of a 60-year old man. I’m younger than he is! And he’s 24 or something.
Before he walks though the door, he announces himself as handful when he drops his bag and assumes that somebody will come pick it up for him.
He isn’t kidding. He is a handful. This is a long-term thing for him. It’s gonna take a lot of time and our goals right away become to try to get him to commit to a long-term treatment.
Eric Roberts is who we see come in next.
Eric is unsure about this whole experience. He minimizes the effect that pot has had on him, even though his family and friends have been deeply concerned about it. He also, as most pot addicts are, sort of feels like it’s gonna be a lot easier than it is to stop, when it’s very difficult. And he has a previous drug history that he also sort of has been managing with cannabis. That history will have to come out.
Frankie Lons comes in next.
Frankie is a severe, severe, severe addict. She was drinking a gallon of Hennessey a day, a woman of that size. She has a very severe history of cocaine and alcohol and prostitution and really has never been exposed to treatment before so I’m actually kind of excited to treat her. And she seems to want help. Even though she’s got a big monkey on her back, I really kind of feel like this is going to be an important experience for her. She’s a survivor. Here she is, still here.
What about Jeremy London?
It’s very difficult to tell what goes on with Jeremy at the beginning. I can’t tell if he’s in withdrawal, or he’s having PTSD, or if he’s had some sort of brain injury from drug using. No doubt he’s an addict. He’s had this weird experience that’s distorted and hard to figure out. And then he’s got problems with his wife. His wife is in treatment and she just got a seizure and a stroke and, oh my God. There’s a lot of chaos to dig through.
I was surprised that he sticks to his story about being kidnapped and forced to do drugs.
You should know, that went to court and got proven to be true. It’s still about his addiction. He wouldn’t have been in that position if he didn’t think he was going to get high with those guys. I’m sure of that. But they also didn’t expect to be held up at gunpoint, kidnapped and all that stuff, which is apparently what happened. Those guys are in prison.
Leif Garrett is the next one in.
Yeah, Leif is a hardcore, hardcore drug addict. He’s had a friend nearly die as a result of his alcoholism. He is a heroin addict; he is long-term hardcore. I at first didn’t have much hope for him. He was one I was skeptical about treatment. But during my first meeting with him, he dropped a lot of his BS and I immediately liked the real Leif. The real Leif is a very, very good guy.
He kind of strikes me as the prototypical teen star addict.
Yeah, he’s like right out of Central Casting. Just a drug addict. He’s a pretty common kind of drug addict guy.
The one thing that struck me in the opening day was, I did his physical exam and he had clear stigmata — signs of advanced alcoholism. This guy’s in his early 20′s and he has the kind of alcohol damage that usually I’ve seen in 50-year old dads. This guy was clear to me as a hardcore alcoholic. I had seen him on the show in Season 1 of Laguna Beach or whatever it was called back then. I literally was yelling at the television like, “Is anybody gonna help this kid? You know how much of a drug addict this is? Anybody but me gonna speak up?” And evidently it took quite a bit more before anybody did speak up.
Rachel Uchitel is the last one that we see come in, and she kind of seems resistant.
She’s resistant, nervous and anxious. And let’s just say she has to test us quite a bit before she’s ready to trust us. I can’t really blame her. As you hear her story, that kind of behavior will make a lot more sense. You’ll really get a sense of why she does that.
And she’s also very apprehensive about the love-addiction diagnosis and being with a bunch of hardcore drug and alcohol addicts.
Well, let me just say that most love addicts eventually come to understand they’re also an alcoholic and/or drug addict. And they see it eventually. And once they start seeing what’s more in common with their peers than different, it really helps them to get better.
On the intensity scale, how does this season rank for you?
The most intense. It felt like Sex Rehab. It felt like that again. The intensity of that show didn’t really translate to television, but it’s going to translate in this show. You’ll see it. And I feel good about it too. In spite of that intensity, they get with it. They just do amazing work.