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 the rest of this season’s cast a few months after they left the recovery center.
Yeah, I really connected with Bob and his emotions with Steven. When Bob talked about Jani Lane, you know, I was in treatment with Jani Lane and we kept in touch and I knew him, and watching another person that we know die from this disease is so sad, and yet addicts thinks “I knew it was going to happen to them,” or “I saw that coming,” but yet, they’re in denial of their own disease and they think they’re invincible. I’ve seen Steven, I didn’t see him as bad as he was when they shot this, but when I saw him, he wasn’t nearly this bad, so it goes to show you the progression of this disease. I don’t want to see Steven die from this, he is such a talented guy, it’s so scary. He’s really not present. It’s devastating. It was really hard to watch Steven for me.
He was so vocal earlier in the season and was such a champion of treatment, so to see him go down this path, does it make you think he wasn’t taking treatment seriously?
No, I don’t think it’s that, I think it’s that the loneliness and the void — really what we’re suffering from is a spiritual malady and he didn’t give himself enough time to get a foundation and learn how to cope with life. If he would have given himself time, it would have been a lot different for him.
Enough time meaning between treatment and touring?
Yes, we want so bad to go back to “our lives” and really our lives weren’t working before we got sober. So many of us say “I want my life back,” and I don’t want my old life back, I want the life I have today. Giving yourself time to get a foundation to go back to life, you learn to handle things so differently. I know the pressures of work and money and family, but if he doesn’t save himself first, he’s not going to have a job or a family.
Jessica started off like she was going to give herself that time to build a foundation by not doing the USO tour and choosing to stay home, but that also seems like it didn’t work since she’s still using.
Her way of denying and not wanting to go into sober living, that’s just so textbook. The “I have it under control” thing, watching her on this episode was hard because her mannerisms and movements, it was very textbook. She may not have been drunk or high at the moment but you could see the effects of drugs and alcohol on her, the way she was moving and talking, it wasn’t the Jessica I knew when she was sober. It may be different now because she is in sober living but it was hard to watch.
It definitely seems like Jessica needs to realize what you were just talking about, that your life can’t really be the life you had before, but it can still be fun.
I remember her saying “I just want to be normal, to be like everyone else,” and we, those of us who are in recovery or suffer from these addictions, we do not think like normal people. We do not have the same thing that normal people do, those of us with the “isms,” the alcoholism and the addictions. Knowing that I will never be like a normal person is okay, and knowing that gives me power. I hear that in every group I do at the recovery center “I just want to be normal” and hearing her say that, it’s so textbook. We all have the same story in the end.
How did you feel watching Sean‘s story this week?
Sean’s story is really sad, there are two people who absolutely love each other and yet they’re trying to recover together, and you really need to save your own life first, and then you can work out everything else in your life. And I think the blame game, I mean, I used to blame everybody and everything myself, but really, what’s the common denominator here? It’s me. So with Sean, it was so sad because she wants sobriety and I know that, and until Sean takes care of Sean, will she be able to stop blaming her husband? She can only save herself.
What do you think of the fact that her first impulse as soon as she got out of graduation was to get a drink?
It’s very common. Maybe it got too real for her and too overwhelming. It happens a lot. And it was sad that she was laughing about it because it’s not funny, but we cope with laughter. But she is really doing the best she can now and I give her a lot of credit for that, she really wants this and she puts the work in.
This episode was the most emotional for me, I thought it was the most profound and compelling, the realness and the truth of what really happens in recovery was there. Watching Doc Gooden, I was like, oh, thank God! Because I got to see someone I absolutely love and still talk to — I mean, I still talk to most of the cast members — and to see Doc doing well, he looked great and the humbleness in him, it’s like Bob saying, let’s hope he gets to a year and see what happens then and give yourself that opportunity. They tole me “Get to a year. And if you don’t like this life, we’ll gladly refund your misery.” Give yourself a year and things will change.
What’s your impression of the season overall and how everyone was portrayed?
I really do believe this show was very true and raw and real and it was very compelling. I don’t think there was anything edited to misconstrue their lives and I really am very proud and honored to have worked with these people and to have been a part of this. To watch their truth come out was very beautiful and very healing. These people were so brave to show their truths, and I do believe it was very true to what we all saw.
Next we spoke to Dr. Sharp, who appeared in the episode working with Sean Young and her husband.
When you heard that Sean had a drink on her first day out of treatment, is that disappointing, or to be expected?
Even in people who you expect to be fully adherent to treatment and their commitment to sobriety, a certain percentage will be drawn back at the first moment. Whether they go out to dinner or end up hanging out with somebody they drank with before, in Sean’s case I think the whole treatment team felt that the likelihood of that happening with her was pretty high. Her problem with alcohol was so closely linked to her marriage and her husband’s problem with alcohol, and he didn’t know how sure he felt about his own need for sobriety. But even though she drank, she definitely seemed more together than I had feared, and she was able to look after her needs and interests in a healthy way. I was positively moved by her when I met with her, and her slip up was not by any means a catastrophe.
With Jessica, I felt like Dr. Drew and Bob almost had to drag it out of her that she’s not 100% sober, she had this “Why am I here?” thing going on.
Yeah, that’s what you see when somebody is either not taking responsibility for doing what they need to, or is defensive about not getting where she wanted to be. I think she was probably acting like that because she was not really comfortable with how things were going. She also has a sense that it could be worse, she has some pride in being a survivor, she’s been relying on herself for a long time and I think she felt on the show like more was expected of her, she knows that she’s doing a lot for herself but she also knows it’s not fully working.
She talks about how it feels like she’s on a diet, that she’s watching what she drinks and smokes as if it’s a diet, is that an appropriate analogy?
It’s appropriate for someone who’s a non-addict. People who have that gene and are addicts can’t control their diet, but non-addicts can, and that’s an important distinction.
Doc Gooden seems like the one person without an awful lot of struggle this week, his treatment is still on course.
Yeah. I think he was ready for that. He came in to treatment with a real sense of purpose and wanting to put this behind him. The work he did with his son was important to that end and having a really good program to go to that he committed to is what it took.
Steven seemed to have no inhibitions and didn’t really even try to conceal from Bob that he was drinking and smoking, he did all that right in front of him.
It’s striking that he would make that choice. I think that would normally be interpreted as a cry for help, but Steven’s not normal. A lot of times his behavior seems less mature than we’d like to see, so he probably had no second thought about just saying what he wants to say and doing what he wants to do.
And he’s spending time on the road with people who are covering for him and basically disregarding his recovery.
And people who disregard recovery are enablers. Passive enablers who just look the other way, but that’s an example of people you don’t want to hang around with. Normally you think, I don;t want to hang around with users, but another bunch of people you maybe don’t want to hang around with are the people who enable you. It’s your responsibility in recovery not to use, but if you’re around people who don’t mind, it makes it pretty easy to get away with something.
What did you take away from this season? We discussed your concerns in doing the show before, so now that it’s done, what’s your impression of it?
I was really, really glad that everything I was led to believe about the show was true, that it’s completely unscripted, that it’s completely not manipulative or forced. I wish there was a different genre of TV that it could occupy other than “reality” TV because it’s so different from the other kinds of typical reality TV. Never once did anybody, a producer or anyone else, remark on what we should be doing with the patients, the patients’ day, their experience there was typical of a really enriched treatment center. I think the show’s combination of twelve-step program and counseling, psychology and life-coaching which was present but you didn’t see as much of on the show, was really powerful.