Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew is back for a fifth season, and we’re lucky enough to have the opportunity to talk about the show with Dr. Drew and some of the other staff at the Pasadena Recovery Center to get an inside look at the rehabilitation process. This week, we spoke with Dr. Drew, Jenn Gimenez, and Dr. John Sharp about the potentially tumultuous return of Steven Adler to the show, and the addition of Dwight Gooden to the group.
Did you have a procedure in place or any concerns about what would happen if Jennifer’s meeting with Steven (after their altercation on Sober House) didn’t go as planned?
Dr. Drew: I met with Jennifer and I told her that this is her job and that she has to be the professional here. I understand it’s evocative for her but she needs to process those feelings and fears, her professional fears, and get on with it. Steven, I had to get him to agree to behave himself, which he did.
When you first sit down with Dwight Gooden and you discuss how he’s a self-confessed bulls—ter, how do you determine whether what he’s saying is true or not?
Well, that’s my job. With every patient I sit down with, that’s what I’ve got to figure out. Addicts lie constantly, that’s part of their disease and Dwight came in lying about his recent cocaine use, he tested positive. When are we gonna get honest? And he knows, he’s honest. I can tell. I trust my body’s reaction to these patients, it’s like an antenna, and I trust whatever comes out of my mouth and it’s based on what I think I’m getting from them.
Can you give us some idea of what happened with Bai Ling that caused her to climb on the roof?
Nothing. Except that she was very emotional. She had some very, very serious psychiatric symptoms and kept refusing to follow our direction. We had Dr. Sharp meet with her and make some very clear recommendations that we felt she needed, and then suddenly for no reason she gets up on the roof which, really just two things that occurred to me as a result of that. One is that she needs to take her medicine because it is now becoming unsafe and her thinking becomes so problematic that she’s putting herself in harm’s way. And number two, I’ve got to get her down right now because if she falls on somebody, if she jumps, if she does something else crazy, if she trips and falls and hurts herself, that’s my responsibility, so she has to be off the roof now. I called the fire department immediately, and I didn’t want Shelly going up there because Shelly’s my responsibility too, but she went. (What happens after Shelly goes up there will be resolved in episode three.)
Next up, Jennifer Gimenez talks about her reactions to episode two.
At the end of the first episode, you were upset over Steven’s arrival. Obviously you had your own issues with Steven, but did you ever worry he would lash out at someone else in the group?
Jennifer: No, I just thought he was going to lash out at me (laughs). I honestly did. That’s why I went into this whole shock thing and post-traumatic stress of having this experience with Steven, because there was physical violence and verbal and emotional abuse that was going on.
How does it feel to watch your reunion now?
It’s pretty amazing. I have been able to heal from it. I did not want the patients to see me like that and I knew I needed to put my personal feelings aside and be professional. Watching it as a viewer, I get to see and experience the healing process and realize I’m not stuck in that, I’m not afraid of those situations anymore.
With Amy’s negative reaction to the cameras this week, what’s your instinct, did you want to run after her and convince her to stay when she walked out?
We can’t save them. We can’t save anyone who comes to treatment. Yes, we would all love to have her stay and baby the situation but you’ve gotta know there’s a lot of other people out there trying to get help, too. You tell her this is just a moment she’s having, but you can’t stop her. And she’s so uncomfortable in her own skin, we’re taking the drugs and alcohol away from her and you’re gonna see her react.
One of the things about Amy that broke my heart for her was her denial of acceptance in her part of what happened to her as a child and how it has completely scarred her. The denial is so thick. You’re watching her and thinking, oh my God, she can’t take any responsibility, what is really going on? And there are so many opportunities for her to do other things in her life besides doing porn, and you can tell when she’s talking that she’s not happy about doing porn. She said she had to drink to do porn and it’s just so sad that that’s how deep her pain is.
She was really upset about having her phone taken away too, what’s the dependence on the phones?
That was such a big issue. That’s their only outside connection, and it also allows them not to socialize, it gets them to isolate, instead of what this whole process is about, which is about recovering.
What’s their phone allowance?
We would give the phones for two hours.
Dwight Gooden arrived this week, what was your relationship with him like?
I have to tell you, I felt such a connection with him. I saw that he was really beaten down and that he really wanted to change. He is such a precious man. I saw the pain and remorse and shame weighing on his shoulders, but you could see that desperation of him wanting to change. And that was within the first thirty seconds of him walking in.
This week we’re also excited to talk with Dr. John Sharp who is the psychiatrist at the Pasadena Recovery Center this season. Though he doesn’t appear on the show until episode 4, he was on site for the duration of the show treating each cast member. At the moment, Dr. Sharp splits his time between practices in Boston and L.A, and this week we talk to him about how he became involved in the show and his impressions of this new cast.
How did you get involved with the show?
I met Dr. Drew when he was at Las Encinas as a chemical dependency unit chief. We got on as respectful colleagues and he asked me to consider being the psychiatrist on Celebrity Rehab and I didn’t know what to say. I really had to make sure that this isn’t a bad idea, because I’ve got a good reputation and I didn’t know what the show was really going to be like. They said it wasn’t forced or exploitative and I really had to understand that for myself. But I came to trust Dr. Drew’s inner mission with regard to taking care of the patients.
What did you think of this year’s group dynamic?
The thing that unified the cast was their interest in being open about the problems they had. People were pretty darn earnest. Like Steven Adler for example, was returning to the show, he really knew what to expect and he was very activated a lot of the time, he had a lot of energy. Some people were more shy and had a harder time being forthcoming. Bai Ling was really protective of herself, and for good reason, and she had to get to a point where she could trust that she was in a safe place, which is healthy. Same is true of Amy Fisher, it took a while for her to get to a point where she could talk about her life. But they were all united in their effort to get the care they needed, but they needed different approaches.
When Bai Ling climbs on the roof, as Dr. Drew said, you had been trying to treat her and give her the medication she needed but she wasn’t taking it.
Exactly. So Bai Ling had striking symptoms when she came in that suggested she was having a hard time with reality testing. She was caught up in her imagination and didn’t want anyone to quote-unquote take it away from her. But I thought that there was some line that she needed to trust where she could tell what was imagination or not, and that line was kind of blurry. I offered her an anti-psychotic medication and she wasn’t trusting and didn’t take it right away. But the bizarre behavior of her up on the roof was the result of her untreated condition.
It’s hard to understand her behavior when you’re watching, it’s hard to know why she’s acting that way.
Of all the behavior on the show this was the most difficult to understand. It is normal to be confused or to want to try to understand her behavior. When you look at this from a general point of view, it should be disturbing, it should be hard to understand.
Just like this week’s episode, consider this post To Be Continued…We’ll follow up more with Jennifer and Dr. Sharp next week with even more on Bai Ling’s roof climb and the rest of the cast’s progress, so make sure you check the VH1 blog for more behind-the-scenes interviews.