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 Bai Ling‘s traumatic past and Michael Lohan‘s occasionally crazy relationship with Kate Major.
First, Dr. Drew gave us some insight about Michael Lohan’s relationship with his ex-fiancee, Kate Major, and his abuse of phone privileges.
Is there anything that has shocked you about this group?
Nope, this is a pretty standard group—well. Actually, yes. Michael Lohan is — I was at graduation and Bob Forrest goes “Michael, I’ve never f—ing seen anything like you. I‘ve been doing this for twenty years and I’ve never seen anything like this.” We would be like “Michael, stay off the phone,” he’d be calling these, that girl [Kate Major] and he’d be getting all worked up and trying to treat her, and we’d be like Michael, NO phone calls. Twenty-four hours off the phone, he’s in group, he’d go back in the unit and get right back on the phone. We were like “Oh, my God!” We couldn’t believe it, it was so stunning his lack of ability to control some of these impulses were just incredible. We put him on some medication that’s really helped him a lot, because he’s very much bipolar. Once the medicines were increased, he was more able to control these impulses but it was really…we loved Michael, and he would be like, “You guys were so right, thank you!” and then he’s do exactly what we told him not to do. It was comical, but so frustrating.
Jenn Gimenez also offered her insights on the group this week.
Steven threatens to leave at the end of episode four and he continues to walk out at the beginning of episode five. Are people in rehab constantly threatening to leave the facility the way Steven and Michael do in this episode?
This group did! [Laughs] And the cops were called a lot too. It was like a domino effect. One starts it and everyone else starts to go with it, you’ll see in different episodes that it was happening a lot. You start to see Michael getting really uncomfortable and, I mean the phone calls. I wish you guys could see how many times that phone would ring. I think one night we counted 21 times, it was out of control. That girl [Kate Major] triggers everything for him to want to use and it’s not her fault, it’s his, but we have to draw the line and detach from those kinds of people.
Steven leaving – I mean, he had had it. Steven had the ability though to stop himself before things get too out of hand. You see him right before he walks all the way out of the facility saying “I can’t do this, I’m not going to let this person get the best of me, I’m here for my recovery,” and he turns around. It takes a lot of strength to admit that you’ve been giving this person all the power. For him to walk back in and then to get the courage to make amends with her? That takes so much courage. And you know, six months from now, that woman will not exist in his life. Amy is not going to be of any consequence to him ever again.
With Bai, not only in this episode does she discuss her horrific trauma in the Chinese army, but she’s also got this story about a boyfriend who coerces her to drink and then he takes advantage of her.
It’s interesting how Bai can completely detach from her experience in the army and she dissociates from that trauma and abuse, it’s a typical symptom of trauma survivors. But she also has something else that’s so current and it affects her more, this boyfriend. The depths of her pain is so deep. I find that she’s just amazing and balls-to-the-wall, she wants to get better.
I never knew anything about her personal life, so your heart has to go out to her after you hear these things and have just been judging her based on her public persona.
This is where you get more invested in watching them, you’re seeing that she really wants to get better. And it’s like “Why did she jump on the roof?” and it’s like “Why not?” If you had her life, you might too. Now you can understand why she does those things, there’s so much pain behind her, but there’s a lot of healing too.
Bob Forrest said that because she’s had so many traumatic male relationships, she needs to find some solid female ones, how important is that? And did Bai and Sean stay close, since Sean comforts her so much in this episode?
Sean and Bai formed a clique and stayed a clique, which was nice, and I know they still talk and remain friends. The program, and twelve-step programs tell you that women stick with women and men stick with men. In treatment facilities, there are a lot of different things going on with a lot of different people, a lot of deep-rooted issues, and the women are the ones who are going to teach [other women] how to love themselves, and that’s what Bob’s suggesting to Bai there.
Can you talk about Michael’s situation with Kate and the phone, which takes center stage in this episode?
When you take the drugs and alcohol away from Michael, I think his new drug of choice became Kate. They’re both dancing a great dance together. No, they’re dancing a funky dance together. There were times with Michael where I wanted to pull my hair out, because the phone would ring and he’d go ballistic, and we’d put him on a couple hours of phone restrictions and it just wouldn’t stop. It. Just. Wouldn’t. Stop.
Were people dreading Kate’s arrival on Family Day?
Yes! Yes. I mean, when the phone would ring, no one wanted to be around the phone, around that drama. It was so exhausting to watch and hear, so yes.
Were there any other outside family or friends of other patients that were as invasive and affected the group the way Kate seemed to? At one point Jessica tells Michael “Crazy is on the phone,” so they all seemed to see that she was disruptive.
There was no one else who was as destructive as Kate was for Michael. But you definitely could see more of people’s personalities when you saw them on the phone, you could see the patient’s body movements and the tone of someone’s voice would change and you’d notice the dynamic and think “This person may not be that great for you,” but there was never any drama at all with other people like there was with Michael.
We also spoke to Dr. John Sharp this week.
Bai talks about her boyfriend in this episode, who gets her to drink despite her bad reaction to alcohol, how do you deal with loved ones who are enablers in treatment?
The reality is that you have to be willing to change your friends and to cherry pick those who are good for you and those who aren’t. There’s an old saying in recovery “Once I got clean, I realized that most of my friends are just acquaintances.” People who you used with or people who certainly didn’t have your best interests in mind. It’s very typical that someone in recovery has to find new, supportive relationships and that’s hard when you’re also giving up something dear to you, this substance. Bai, and actually everyone in the group, has done this.
Do you think Michael has, too?
Yes, she was part of the drama of the show, for sure. He was trying to manage this whole crazy situation with her because she was actively using and he couldn’t just let go of that, but he was able to see she was an unhealthy influence. When he first showed up he didn’t really recognize that but then he got to the point of realizing she wasn’t good for him, that she was too caught up in her own struggle and he could not try to fix her. She had to do whatever she had to do on her own. Michael is a very loving man, and he’s a complicated character, but he demonstrated movement in a healthy direction away from a relationship that wasn’t healthy.
How did the celebrity nature of the cast change the treatment process for you? To clarify, I don’t think it’s “celebrity” so much as the fact that so many of them have come from extraordinary circumstances that may be more unusual than what you’re average person has gone through in a rehab.
That’s a good way of putting it. It wasn’t a surprise…Michael’s family situation was probably most reflective of celebrity and celebrity fallout and the media’s take on his family, it was all very Hollywood, with a lot of drama played out in the media, apart from that though, things were pretty, surprisingly, routine. Certainly Amy’s history was very sensational but when you talk with her about who was in her life and what the forces are upon her and what her goals are those were, at the core, level just basic human struggles.