Each week after Rehab With Dr. Drew, we’ll be talking to some of the staff on hand at the Pasadena Recovery Center to find out everything that went down in front of and behind the camera with this season’s group of patients. This week we spoke to our friend Jennifer Gimenez, the resident technician at the facility who had battled demons on her own, and she offered up her insight and some behind-the-scenes details about Erika and her positive drug test, and the trap of “enabling someone into a grave.”
Let’s start with one of the final moments of the show. When you were testing Erika for drugs, were you really expecting her test result to come back positive?
Well, her boyfriend was there earlier, and she was acting odd, it went on for a long time and I was kind of monitoring what was going on. Her behavior was very erratic and she was not herself. The fact that the boyfriend was there and she had already been saying “I love him but he does drugs with me,” you know, and you see her on the phone with him, he was calling her all the time, wasted, you’re like, okay this guy is ill. Dr. Drew made the point that he’s a good guy but he has a bad addiction. She’s at a point right now where she just wants to use, and he’s part of her drug.
Did you believe him in the course of their couples therapy when he came around and agreed to go to meetings with her after his initial protests and denial that he was an addict?
He’s definitely lost and he’s definitely sick, and his denial is so sick that you could hear the lies in them, when he was like “Okay, out of the last three nights, I’ve drank a couple times…” If you say you had a drink, you probably didn’t just drink A drink, you probably drank a lot of drinks. Or you probably drank and did drugs. You know that there’s always more to the story. So he’s in denial of himself and his disease.
He seems to have some power over her, is that the age gap, do you think? Or is it just that she needs someone to care for her?
I think it’s a bit of both. They met and they were both using and drinking and it just continued on a downward spiral, so it’s not a healthy relationship. And either they both get help and take this journey together, or they go their own ways separately, because again, the sick can’t lead the sick into a positive place. So I think there are a lot of issues with Erika, and she’s our main focus, and she has a lot of childhood issues going on which will be seen, but a girl that’s only 22 dating a 44-year-old, that says a lot right there.
And she kept justifying that by saying he acts like he’s 27, which is when Dr. Drew made the interesting and actually pretty funny point, asking her “How would you feel if I acted like I was 27?”
Again, she is so young and so naive in some ways, that she can’t see the truth yet, and what is the right and healthy way of being in a relationship. In general, we all suffer from that kind of stuff, we all have issues, but with Erika because she uses and drinks and has so much childhood trauma, she is only role-playing and she thinks that that looks healthy to her, when in reality it’s not healthy for either one of them.
This whole episode actually started with her describing her suicide attempt, I was wondering if you could talk a little about how she dealt with that element in therapy too.
Most addicts or alcoholics tend to get to a point where they’re like what’s the point in living? And the fact that there was that thought in her mind that she so quickly reacted to while intoxicated, she was like “I was using that night, so why should I live?” Not only did she really want to complete that task of trying to end her life, but she had that hopelessness, that spiritual malady that she’s suffering from that’s asking “What’s the point in me living?” and yet there’s this beautiful girl who can’t see her self worth. You see in the first episode where she’s using with him, and then she starts crying — that’s such a typical thing for addicts to feel like. Her hopelessness is starting to show and it’s very apparent how deep-rooted her issues are. I don’t think her boyfriend is the center or the root of her problem, I think he’s just another problem. He’s just not giving her that positive environment she needs, so she’s dancing that dance with him.
Earlier this season when we saw Eric shoot up in front of his mom and his aunt, you said that resonated with you because your family couldn’t really stop you when you knew you wanted to use. So in this episode, we meet Drewbee’s father who not only watched his son using, but he provided him with the drugs as a sort of portion control. I’m wondering how that situation affected you.
It was so hard to watch that part, so many parents or loved ones who have an addict or alcoholic in their life do that, they condone it or enable them. Do we enable them into a grave? That was a really strong statement when I first heard that. And people do. Fist and foremost, this man is a father who absolutely loves his son, but secondly, he is also in recovery himself. How far is he going to go just to keep his son alive and keep his heart beating? There’s that excruciating pain of trying to watch him justify why he does it, and it’s just because he wants to keep him alive. I think at this point, I hope it’s an awakening for his father. Someone like Drewbee who is a level-10 addict, needs to completely crash on his own in order to get up, because he knows how to manipulate his mom and dad. When they stop enabling him — they call it detaching with love — then he can start to get better. I talk about this a lot but when I was down, my friends had to walk away from me. My mom, thank God, she got into family group and Al-Anon and stuff like that, but she gave me boundaries and enforced them and I was like Hold up! And all of a sudden I realized what I was doing was not okay anymore. No one was playing with me. Addicts are intelligent, they know how to get away with things. Once they realize they’re not getting away with things they’re like “Oh s—! How am I going to do this?”