Celeb rehab, Dr. Drew and real answers to addiction

Celeb rehab, Dr. Drew and real answers to addiction: 7 factors working against a TV show such as Celeb Rehab

Celeb rehab, Dr. Drew and real answers to addiction: 7 factors working against a TV show such as Celeb Rehab

7 factors working against Celeb Rehab.

In two and a half years, five celebrities who have entered the TV show “Celeb Rehab with Dr. Drew” have died: Jeff Conaway, Mike Starr, Joey Kovar, and Rodney King have all passed away, and drugs were found to play some sort of role in their deaths. And the fifth participant to die is Mindy McCready who took her own life Sunday February 17, 2012. Subsequently, there has been a strong outcry against the TV show Celeb Rehab and against Dr. Drew Pinsky.

Human Behavior Expert Patrick Wanis PhD responds to reporter’s questions about the show Celeb Rehab, treatment for addiction and whether or not people in recovery suffering from addiction should be on a TV show exposing their lives and their treatment. Wanis offers 7 factors working against a TV show such as Celeb Rehab.

1. Aftercare
While the intention of the TV show “Celeb Rehab” might be good, it automatically becomes exploitative because it is creating entertainment based on the suffering of celebrities. Addiction is the most difficult and painful disease and disorder to treat and the success rate is often very low and one of the most important components of the treatment is insuring that there is an ongoing support system after the client has left the clinic. And the patient must be willing to participate in an aftercare program to sustain success in recovery as well as be willing to admit that there has been a relapse and ask for help. If a celebrity is suffering from addiction and only goes on the show for attention and to get paid, then there is a greater chance he/she will not pursue and participate in aftercare.

2. Wrong intentions for being on the show
It’s critical to understand that these celebrity addicts might be participating in the show and treatment for the wrong reason – namely to revive their career, be financially compensated (some were allegedly paid $500,000 to appear on the show) or to become relevant again as a celebrity; whereas the only reason to participate in the show and treatment should be the desire to get help and change.  And if they are doing it for the wrong reasons and they don’t really want to get better, then no treatment program can succeed.

3. Celebrities spoil and undermine the treatment program for other participants
One of the reasons that Celebrity Rehab is not coming back with celebrities is because celebrities no longer want to participate; producers couldn’t find celebrities who wanted to participate. But another component of the show that undermines the potential success of the treatment is the fact that it is comprised of celebrities. Many drug rehab clinics refuse to accept celebrity addicts because the celebrity often spoils the experience and success of the treatment program for the other participants: a big ego can result in tantrums, requests for special treatment and narcissism can cause clashes and splinter the participants from bonding and supporting each other, and, of course, dealing with the celebrity entourage and handlers distracts all of the patients from their healing process.

4. Clash of the egos
Example: Tiger Woods’ mistress Rachel Uchitel stormed out of Celebrity Rehab just one week into filming. Rachel, 35, said her reason for leaving was fellow patient and roommate Janice Dickinson’s behavior – she felt Janice Dickinson was being abusive. ‘I’m done being Janice’s doormat,’ she said on the show. ‘And she’s also preventing me from being able to do any sort of recovery…I think she can just be rude because she thinks she’s more important than everybody else here.’

Rachel agreed to participate in Celebrity Rehab because she believed Dr Drew and his staff at the Pasadena Recovery Center could help her overcome her addiction to prescription pills. It’s believed Rachel was paid $500,000 to appear on the program.

5. Addiction is not entertainment
We need to accept that not everything in real life needs to be televised nor is everything in real life a form of entertainment; addiction is a very serious disease and disorder. And spying on the treatment of addiction should not be a form of entertainment. Patricia Taylor, executive director of Faces & Voices of Recovery, an advocacy group for people in recovery says “For whatever reason, there’s this incredible fascination with people while they’re actively using and their lives in addiction and we really think it doesn’t belong on our TV screens…We don’t have shows with people with cancer or diabetes or other health conditions.”

6. Televising addiction works against healing by creating more stress
Given that there have been 5 deaths people will quickly blame Doctor Drew, but it’s the nature of the TV show that is responsible for placing its priority on getting famous addicts to participate rather than the actual treatment for addiction. Further, putting addicts in front of a camera and expecting them to perform to entertain an audience, even if that expectation is subtle, only serves to create more stress for the celebrity addicts. And all treatment of addiction includes trying to lower the stress levels of patients and clients in order to help the brain heal and recover from both stress and the damaging impact of drugs. And as noted above with the example of Rachel Uchitel, placing together people who have large egos will result in power struggles, clashes and potential abuse. Read my article about the study which reveals that constant battering from stressful events actually shrinks the brain and can lead to addiction, depression, loss of impulse control and diabetes “Stress shrinks your brain”: https://patrickwanis.com/blog/stress-shrinks-your-brain/

7. Real healing and recovery come from treating the whole family and the whole person
Finally, it is extremely critical to understand that the only successful way to treat addiction is to treat the entire family as well as treat the whole person – mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually and nutritionally. The Dalai Lama told Ariana Huffington in a video interview that we need to educate our minds, our hearts and change our brain by lowering stress, reducing anxiety, moving away from self-centered attitudes and instead emphasize compassion and warm-heartedness: “So religion, any religion, no matter what sort of wonderful religion, never be universal. So now education is universal, so we have to sort of find ways and means through education system, from kindergarten up to university level, to make awareness these good things, the values, inner values. That, if we say, oh, practice of compassion is something holy, nobody listen. If say, warm-heartedness really reduce your blood pressure, your anxiety, your too much stress, your health improve, then people pay attention.” https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/14/dalai-lama-arianna-huffington-interview_n_1510094.html

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