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 Jenn Gimenez and Dr. John Sharp about this episode that follows up on half of this season’s cast a few months after they left the recovery center.
We first spoke with Dr. Sharp.
The story with Amy Fisher focuses on Mary Jo Buttafuoco and how Amy wouldn’t meet with her — it’s interesting because Mary Jo seems open to forgiving her, but Amy keeps writing on Twitter these days that she was being manipulated and her past was being exploited in this episode.
She’s really got a bee in her bonnet – from the very beginning, her reaction has been that she’s being mis-characterized, and it’s awful because even though reality TV shows are accused of that, often correctly, I keep saying in no way does Celebrity Rehab do that, so I think she’s stirring up the pot. It’s really not a fair representation of what Celebrity Rehab is all about. She came in with a problem related to alcohol and she was able to come to terms with her over-drinking and making a healthy choice to not do pornography and I think all of that has been shown accurately.
She definitely seems to have made progress where it counts, but she’s just so upset by this follow-up episode that touches on the whole reason she’s famous in the first place.
When the idea emerged to try and help her put the past behind her, it seemed like the right thing to try to do. Bob is a pretty persuasive guy and if he couldn’t get her to see the benefit of getting together with Mary Jo and reconcile fully with the past, and put things behind her, I don’t think I could have either.
It was voluntary to participate in this follow-up show, right? Couldn’t she have said no and avoided this situation?
Oh yeah! She didn’t have to be there. I think people were surprised that the format was more of this individual follow-up because it’s less showy than a reunion, but I think it works better that it’s individualized. She didn’t need to be a part of that.
So on the one hand we have Amy who wants to avoid confronting her issues, and then we have Michael who exposes himself to situations he was only recently in himself, participating in interventions with other addicts and trying to help people with the same problem that he has, and it’s addressed that it’s pretty soon for him to be doing that.
Right, yeah, and he’s been talking with me about how he really wants to help others and he’s in a position to do that based on his experience, and I agree, it’s kind of soon to do that when you’re in early recovery and it’s probably not great to be working with people who have the exact same problems that you have.
Do you think he has a weird sense that he knows best now, since he’s been through it recently and it’s fresh in his mind?
No…well, what he might say is that through his experience and turning things over to a higher power, he has a very strong sense of what needs to happen, and he learned that the hard way and he wants to share that. One coping mechanism that we use is called “making passive into active” and that means rather than just going along for the ride, you take charge. If you do that deliberately and strive to help others it can be all good, as long as you’re aware that you’ve got to take care of yourself first and you’re not helping others as your only way to help yourself. He certainly has the best of intentions and he has a big heart.
It’s unbelievable, he looks great. He told me as an illustration of how off he was before he started treatment, he took a bunch of head shots because he was convinced that afterward, when he didn’t have all that bulk, he wouldn’t like the way he looked and he wouldn’t be handsome, and now of course he looks so much better. And he can see that now, he can see that he was seeing through a distorted lens.
He also mentions body dysmorphia, did he need to be treated for that as well as the drugs?
Well, when he says that he means his distorted body image and it was something he needed to work on but it wasn’t a separate endeavor. He can look in the mirror now and see himself as healthy, when someone has persistent body dysmorphia, they don’t have that perspective, so he had some of that but it was really drug-induced. As he left that world, he was able to see things more honestly.
And Bai Ling seemed so positive too, she’s not the same person we saw at the beginning of the show.
It’s really extraordinary, her spirit, the way people respond to her genuineness…In the beginning we saw someone scattered and disturbed, and she was really in another world. She’s very clearly in this world now and benefiting. She did a very good job utilizing the medication and psychotherapy in getting off the alcohol. She made a real commitment to a healthy plan and living that out.
Next up, chatting with Jennifer Gimenez, who started things right off the bat by bringing up Mary Jo Buttafuoco.
Let me just tell you, Mary Jo broke my heart.
Yes! She really gets you to sympathize with her doesn’t she? She comes off as a forgiving person who knows the struggle of addiction too.
Yeah, I thought that was pretty amazing how she said that. I think it was a missed opportunity for Amy, there would have been a lot of closure for her there.
Who stood out to you in this episode as far as their recovery?
I was really awestruck by Bai Ling. She has such a great story and she’s in a new chapter of her new life and we see the changes and the growth in her, she’s very strong. I’ve seen her work through some very serious issues and there’s so much promise there, it’s a beautiful thing.
And with Jeremy Jackson, who I’m really close with and I absolutely love, I’ve seen how much he’s worked. He was the only one who went to after care every time, he’s really done the work and I’ve seen the changes in him. I’m proud of him. But to be truthful I’m proud of all of them. The seed was planted and there has been improvement in all of them.
Watching Michael Lohan, I see that he’s struggling and growing at the same time. I love that he can talk about his co-dependency and wanting to fix everyone else instead of himself, I think he got to understand that when he saw Drew and Bob. With Amy, I think that her giving up porn and moving to a new state, I think that’s great for her to go and try to find herself with her family, it’s wonderful. It’s hard because there are some deep-rooted issues there with her and Mary Jo, and I do believe there could be a lot of closure, maybe one day she’ll be ready. I’m not here to judge it, I think it was great that she addressed it, and maybe she feels that she said her sorries in her own way. It was inspiring to see how forgiving Mary Jo is.
Right, even if we didn’t get their reunion, it’s important to get her perspective because as she says, they’re forever going to be linked.
And for someone like Mary Jo, I think it takes courage to watch the show and come clean about her experience in recovery and wanting closure for herself. There are a lot of wounds and that changed both of their lives. To see that they’re both still going is just wonderful.