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 for this episode, which involved a scary episode involving two runaway cast members who find themselves in the middle of gang territory. Though everything ended safely, Jenn gave us the real story of how the situation spun out of control and the entire group was put in danger.
Tell me the story of what really happened between the guys who approached you, Eric and Drewbee.
We were at the AA meeting and within three minutes, Eric and Drew decided to go outside and smoke a cigarette, and within moments, they left. I was running around the streets of north Pasadena looking for them, which is not a very good neighborhood, and there are some gang houses around there, it’s just not a safe neighborhood. So the guys decide to take a walk and I’m running down the street in an unsafe place, and I find them in a dark alley. I ran up and, you know, that whole confrontation between the three of us lasted longer than what you guys see, and I told them “You’re lucky nothing happened to you guys.” They were like “Chill out, enough already!” and I was like “No, you don’t get to leave the group and you didn’t even let me know! What if something happened?” and boom, this car comes around.
I don’t even know how long it lasted, it could have been five, ten, fifteen minutes, but I was talking to those guys in Spanish when they started saying they were going to “collect their taxes” and what I found out later is that they meant they were going to collect me. They wanted to collect a ransom. One of them tried to grab me, but I was holding on to Eric, basically holding him back so he wouldn’t fight them, but they couldn’t get me. Then they left and Eric said something as they were leaving and they came back two minutes later. When they came back, they came out of the car with guns, and when that happened, Drewbee ran. Eric’s mentality was “fists first, knives second.” He’s from South Boston and I was like “We don’t do that in L.A.” He was sure they didn’t have guns, and when they came out of the car, Eric wanted to fight them, and what he doesn’t realize is that in L.A., gang mentality here is probably different than where he grew up.
We were with our camera guy and one of our storyteller/producers and they were telling me we needed cars to get out of there, but I was trying to protect Eric and that was a big battle, I was getting thrown down to the ground just to hold on to Eric. So as everyone else filed out of the group meeting, everyone sees me getting attacked, that’s what they were seeing, but in reality, Eric and the producer were trying to protect me. Jasmen had a lot of trauma from being abused and beaten, which she talks about on the show, and she went into trauma mode and wanted to protect me, but the reality was that I was being protected.
What was so scary for me was that my instinct was to protect instead of run, and it went far beyond the call of duty and my job description, so when we finally got in the van, I just burst out crying. I almost got shot for a TV show. With all sincerity, it was the scariest experience of my life and it lasted a lot longer than what you guys see. The fact that nothing happened to us is the greatest blessing ever. Once I got into the van and started to cry, the van went silent, everyone had finally seen me break. I think the severity of what happened made everyone react, and by the time we got to PRC, that’s when all the fights broke out.
Why did they even approach you in the first place, were you on their turf, or were they just trying to mess with you for fun?
We were in a dark alley. You should never, ever, ever walk down a dark alley, especially in a really bad neighborhood. If you see two guys who don’t look like they’re from L.A., especially who are followed by a camera, I don’t know, I think it might have been a mixture of both, you’ve got these two white kids walking down a dark alley in a gang neighborhood and a Latin crazy girl going off on them…I don’t know. I started speaking Spanish to the guys, begging them not to do anything. Production realized what I went trough was a traumatizing experience and offered to give me a few days off and I just looked at them and told them “My job’s not done, I’m not going to leave now,” I wanted to finish the show and it wouldn’t have been fair to the group.
What happened when you got back to the facility and everyone started fighting?
I was getting pushed around a lot that night! I was in between every single fight and I didn’t want anyone to get hurt and I didn’t want Eric to leave. I was trying to calm everyone down and that just went on for a while. Everybody was upset and I didn’t really have a chance to be upset myself except for that minute in the van when I was like “Oh my God, my poor mom almost got that phone call that I got shot,” but the truth is, I had to get serious, you’re in fight or flight mode, and they were all scared and scared for Eric, they didn’t want him to leave.
He went through five or six days where he was constantly like “I’m leaving, I’m leaving!” and at that point he made up his mind that he was leaving. And it was up to me to get him to stay and yet I’m running around just trying to calm the unit down. It was a night of a good four hours of intense drama.
So Eric does run away in the end, what’s the process when someone takes off from the facility like that?
Going through those double doors, if they leave those double doors, they’re automatically discharged. Because of all the drama, I wasn’t going to discharge anyone that night, but Eric was like, “Gimme my stuff,” and I couldn’t leave the facility or go outside to give him his stuff. If he eaves, I can’t stop him, so he took off running in the dark, at night, and I couldn’t stop him. Thank God the cameras were following him to realize where he was going, because I believe he would have died that night.
Do you think that because he would have found drugs and used?
I think something bad wold have happened, whether he used or got into trouble, it wouldn’t have ended well for him, you’re talking about being in a bad neighborhood you don’t know, at night. I’m just so thankful that no one got killed or hurt, there is so much you guys didn’t see and I wish you saw more of what really happened and all of us, including the camera man, were so scared. Someone could have gotten killed.