Celebrity Rehab: Helping People Help Others?



There was a fairly standard pros-and-cons piece on Celebrity Rehab in Sunday’s Los Angeles Times. Some people say it’s exploitative and doomed to failure (Dr. David Sack, the chief executive of Malibu’s Promises Treatment Center: “When you create this context of paying people to participate, it doesn’t work.”); some people say it saved their lives (Janice Dickinson: “Dr. Drew saved my life.”). Some people say it thrives on manufactured drama (Leif Garrett: “They asked to get some footage of me using, and I said, ‘I haven’t been using.’ They said, ‘We really have to get footage of you using.’ Anyway, I was easily talked into showing them.”); some people categorically disagree (VH1′s VP of communications Scott Acord: “The show’s producers would never ask anyone to use…PERIOD.”).

That kind of conflict is present even within some people, like Season 1 and 2′s Jeff Conaway, who says he played up drama and was asked to lie by producers. Most interestingly, though, is that none of that seems to matter to him as much as his continued reminders of how he’s touched other people through the show:

“I got a lot of love from people, and when people stop me on the street and say, ‘Man, your story touched me so much,’ it just makes all this pain worthwhile, you know? Because I don’t know where actors go after they die, but I know people who help other people have a nice place to go. And I would like to go there if I can.”

You can argue with the televised process for years (people have been!), but its worth in this context is undeniable. And after all, isn’t helping people what this show is all about? [Los Angeles Times]

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  1. jp says:

    Celebsplotation suddenly a sin? Anyone writing an article for the times has crazy nerve to say that TVrehab isn’t going to work. First of all the show isn’t going to cure everyone. But isn’t the issue that a few might be inspired? Dr. Sack is clearly jealous. Here he is working at Promises one of the most exclusive, expensive rehab clinic’s for Hollywood elite, housing 10 people at a time max. How many people is he touching?
    Also he misses a major incentive in healing that his celebrities don’t experience. A massive dose of televised shame.

  2. Wizard says:

    This years cast of characters is NOT a list of “Who’s Who”…it’s a list of WHO CARES???

  3. Karen DH says:

    Dr. Drew, you stated so well your credentials to Leif and I was delighted that you did. This was overdue. Please, please have the producers make this correction to your title graphics on the shows credits. You DO need to distinguish yourself from the other “tv docs” out there. Your title graphics should read “Drew Pinsky, M.D.” so there is no mistaking that you are in fact a medical doctor. I have produced many corp. films and learned early on that viewers do in fact know the difference and titles such as “Dr. Drew Pinsky” are suspect. Great work, every soul matters.

  4. posi555 says:

    This show is so real.addiction is heartbreaking..!! I’m a 48yr old child of addict My father died when I was 18 and now I’m a Mother of a 24 yr old recovering addict..watching this show has me in tears…. Its such a bad disease and I have seen so many children programs… Much younger then my Daughter are falling and falling fast and it scares me..!! My daughter has to be on welfare & medicare for her treatment..she is to old to be on our ins..Thank god for the system..Thats how I ate as a child and had a place to sleep…But we need more programs to help these children.. I hope that some day me and my Daughter can pay it foward and help others with this disease..! God Bless

  5. Whippet says:

    The day my brother died of a cocaine overdose my first feeling was relief. Relief for him that he was no longer suffering, struggling,feeling shame, no longer in pain. My next feeling was unbelievable pain and grief at the loss of a beautiful, talented, intelligent and amazing brother and friend. I realized at that moment that even though he would no longer suffer my suffering and that of my family had only just begun. 22 years later I still cry when I look at his photos, when I watch this show, whenever I hear the word addict. Forgiveness takes away the anger but the pain of the loss is lifelong. I know he would never be able to forgive himself if he could have foreseen the results of his actions. I realize this is not a result he wished for, but a result it is none the less.

  6. zed says:

    i would add to my last posting that hypotheticals are never great, but i’m sure you use them to help addicts check in on their cognitive behavior patterns that lead to real world consequences.

    what if leif had a beer? what if he came back to the group? what if frankie and jason went to the two dollar beer place? what if rachel left in disgust? would dennis say to shelley i don’t get involved in that area talk to dr. drew . . . we are in the real world now baby and that’s what this was about . . . while everyone is shooting off to do their own thing . . . ???

    i’d have loved to see that because you can be a bit self indulgent in undercutting shelley.

  7. zed says:

    my initial posting didn’t take, i guess . . . so, i was writing that several seasons ago dr. drew spoke with shelley about her responsibility, etc. yet, he undercuts shelley whenever she wants someone removed. this situation facilitates shelley being more of a target and taking the abuse initially recovering addicts are famous for performing as with frankie of late and leif too.

  8. Char Lee says:

    Bob, stop chewing your mouth open. It’s difficult to watch that. Also, calling Shelly insane and laughing that she was mad at you and Drew is completely unprofessional. You’re the one who is insane if you think it’s appropriate to bring recovering addicts to a bar or that it’s an appropriate “test” to let Leif buy a beer while on an rehab outing. Your job is to keep the patients out of harm’s way and away from temptation while in the recovery unit. After they graduate they will certainly face temptation but during their stay in the unit they need to have boundaries set in place, and that includes not going to a bar or buying a beer or acting in complete disregard and disrespect for the rest of the patients and the staff. Just about everyone on this show needs to behave more professionally, staff and patients alike. And to the producers, this is a great opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives, so stop pandering to that reckless need to make it all dramatic. Addicts and recovery and treatment are intense enough without creating all the fake drama.

  9. jp says:

    BOB made a comment that was genius important. I wish I had the exact quote, but it went something like: be prepared to have your significant other be the trigger you use, to give yourself an excuse to relapse. TARGET hit.
    GREAT SHOW, wish VH1 did more of these. They are huge entertainment and PSA’s. I am sure there is enough tape/ material that they could air 2-3 days a week and people would watch.

  10. EM says:

    Conaway, you idiots, not Conway.

  11. Kathy says:

    Get Frankie some help. church is great but she needs AA. She’s using family crisis an excuse not to go.

  12. flagal says:

    Here in Florida people have to have their license scan to buy any sinus meds with ephedrine; this is a great attempt to cut down on the meth cookers. The only question I have is why can they not do the same thing with oxycotin and roxies. These 2 drugs are a major problem here in Florida. There are actually pain management Drs who have their on pharmacies in their offices. They are handing out over 500 pills a month to 1 patient. Why don’t we make the Oxy and Roxy users scan their license? There is way too much Dr and pharamacy shopping going on here in Florida. My niece has lost her husband to this disease and other close friends have lost their loved ones to it. I work in the medical field and can tell you a lot of these Drs should be held accountable for a lot of the deaths. I myself am not a Dr but I can tell you when someone comes into a hospital seeking drugs. They always list every narcartic except oxy or roxy that they are allergic to. That is a number one red light for me. If I were the Dr. I would tell them sorry but we do not give oxy or roxy here. I personally feel that pain management clinics should not be run be anesthesiologist if you are going to choose a pain management center please make sure you choose one which has a neurologist as the Dr. Please also remember whatever you are taking now you are building an immunity to and God forbid you should ever get a disease like Cancer; there will be no pallitive treatment that will take the pain away for you. Please join the fight to close the pain management clinics with their own pharmacies and the fight to have each patient scan their license to get their oxy and roxy so that they too can be tracked. Florida really has a serious epidemic. I know Dr. Drew works with the Celebs but it work be nice to see him come to Florida and work with the epidemic here. Please help us not lose anymore of our young kids to this disease in Florida. There is actually a episode on Florida Oxy/Roxy use on HULU.

  13. valentine says:

    the show can be interesting, educational and amusing – wish some of the prima donna attitudes would subside.

    speaking of which, shelly needs to go away. she seems much more interested in being on tv than actually helping anyone. she is rude, mean and insensitive. and when she got “sick” … not so fine acting.