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Where Rehab Meets Reality
June 9, 2013 1:06 PM   Subscribe

Around dusk on Feb. 17, Dr. Drew Pinsky was sitting at the computer in his hillside home in Pasadena, Calif., when he received an e-mail from a friend with some troubling news. Mindy McCready, a 37-year-old country singer and a star of the third season of “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew,” a television show that made its debut on VH1 in 2008, had shot herself at her house in Heber Springs, Ark.
posted by josher71 (66 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Onion AV Club: Dr. Drew says he's finally kicking the Celebrity Rehab habit now that so many people have died
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 1:10 PM on June 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


“She becomes my problem because of the choices she is making,” Dr. Pinsky said. “I haven’t seen her in two or three years, but I am a failure if she makes bad choices in her life. It’s like, wow.”

It is like wow. Because, wow, how does he not understand that his success or failure is not the issue at all?
posted by Sys Rq at 1:17 PM on June 9, 2013 [15 favorites]


Later, Dr. Pinsky explained that “Celebrity Rehab” was his way of showing the public that addiction unchecked had serious consequences.

No, Celebrity Rehab is Pinksy's way of grabbing some fame and fortune. Pretty much everyone on the planet already knew that unchecked addiction has serious consequences.
posted by Frayed Knot at 1:18 PM on June 9, 2013 [13 favorites]


Stanhope on Pinsky,
posted by meehawl at 1:22 PM on June 9, 2013 [27 favorites]


“They think I’m a millionaire and they think I am, like, rampaging or exploiting people to maintain that,” he said. “And that could not be farther from the truth.”

So, he's made a billion dollars on this sleazy exploitation gig? Nice work if you can get it, doc.
posted by Scram at 1:23 PM on June 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


“If we were doing a show called, ‘Cancer House,’ and people died, you’d go, ‘Well, at least you got them a few good years,’ ” Dr. Pinsky told a sympathetic Dr. Mehmet Oz, adding, “Addiction is not a curable condition.”

Oh, please.

Comparing addiction to cancer? Come ON.

An addict can stop drinking or drugging (I'm not saying it's easy, but it's absolutely doable); a cancer patient can't just stop "cancer-ing".

This disease model thinking re: addiction does such a disservice to addicts. I understand that it may help destigmatize treatment, but it can also have the knock-on effect of reinforcing the myth of the addict as being powerless.

Pinsky should stick to the sex ed stuff (which is is very good at). If he truly believes that addiction is not a curable condition, he should STFU and GTFO and let others who *know* that change is possible take the lead.
posted by nacho fries at 1:30 PM on June 9, 2013 [12 favorites]


At least his wife admits it's entertainment rather than trying to help people. Could care less about celebrity doctors, but I do care about the damage they do.
posted by arcticseal at 1:33 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have nothing productive to add, but this man is a vulture, a ghoul.
posted by Cosine at 1:44 PM on June 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


It didn’t take long for the backlash to begin, particularly among those who have long claimed that Dr. Pinsky exploited celebrities too sick to withstand the scrutiny of a reality television show. In the week after Ms. McCready’s death, he appeared on "Extra" and "Access Hollywood" and was interviewed on "The View."

"I didn’t want to seem avoidant," he said.
I can see that. Good thing he went straight to the outfits that were willing to put the hard questions to him.
posted by mph at 1:45 PM on June 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


I can't decide which I hate more: self-aggrandizing celebrity d-bag doctors, or doctors who want you to use their first name and title at the same time. Now thanks to Dr. Drew I don't have to! Seriously though, anyone who'd partner up with a judgmental asshole like Adam Carolla to counsel vulnerable people on air has already proven how much of a jerk they are.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:45 PM on June 9, 2013 [12 favorites]


Pinsky is a scumbag. No better or worse than that misogynist shitball Carolla that he likes to pal around with. They deserve each other, and they're bottom feeders of the first rate.

I've dealt with addiction issues for myself and people in my family and close circle of friends for years. Addiction is about choice - whether not seeing that you have any choices on your course in life, or seeing that you have ALL the choices available to you when you clean up your act. You choose to be addicted, or you choose to work on correcting it. It's a very simple thing made very complicated by many factors.

Celebrities who elect to go on a show like CR, and show guests who appear on Loveline and Pinsky's other properties, are also making a choice, i.e. whether or not they should participate in a show like CR. Most of the time, I think they're making a bad call by being there. I can't imagine a situation where having someone's addiction treatment broadcast on national TV can benefit them. I don't think it lets a patient be truly honest about their problems, I think it lends itself to showboating, and I think its hurtful to their family and friends. I think it works exactly against their best interests.

And I don't think, given their mental stability, that they're in a position to determine whether or not their appearance is good or bad for their long term health.

I think there should be a doctor on these shows - one qualified to work with addiction, who can determine whether or not a given individual has the mental acuity to be there in the first place, and who has the balls to actually make the call to take someone off the show if their recovery is threatened.

It sure isn't Pinsky making those calls. He's too wrapped up in getting a good take, keeping the ratings up, and making sure his ass is covered when people die.

He's an asshole.

Edit: and what BrotherCaine said!
posted by disclaimer at 2:00 PM on June 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Dr. Drew has a bad habit of diagnosing celebrities without meeting them. I'm no defender of Tom Cruise or Charlie Sheen, but it's not Pinksy's place offer medical opinions about people he has not met and personally examined. In fact, it's probably a violation of an ethical code called the Barry Goldwater rule.

I don't like goofy celebrities, bit I like unethical medical professionals even less.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:10 PM on June 9, 2013 [12 favorites]


There is something about the way Mr. Pinsky can always be counted on to show up on TV spouting off some quasi-authoritative bullshit just minutes after any given celebrity-related tragedy gets reported that has led me, at times, to pronounce him history's greatest monster. This is of course an unfair exaggeration. He is, as stated above, just a garden-variety ghoul.
posted by prize bull octorok at 2:16 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Man, okay, back when I was a teenager, I used to listen to Lovelines. Back before it was syndicated, back before it was a TV show, back when it was just this regular night-time thing on KROQ where Jim "Poorman" Trenton and Dr. Drew Pinksky took calls from teenagers asking ridiculous questions about sex because they had nowhere else to go.

(For what it was like, watch Heathers. The scene where Heather calls into a radio show to talk about how awful things are getting? That's Poorman, and that's what it was like, but for all of L.A.)

And it was a great thing, because you could call and they wouldn't judge you for your questions. You could go "I think I might be gay." or "My boyfriend wants to have sex, and I don't." or "My best friend keeps on telling me I drink too much." or "Does the pill really make your breasts get big?" or a billion other questions that just weren't being discussed - not in these kids' homes, definitely not in schools, and this was more or less pre-Internet, so all you had was schoolyard gossip.

Lovelines was where you could get answers. And it was pretty obvious that for a lot of kids, it was the only place they could get answers.

And if it had just stayed like that, a doctor, a ridiculous DJ, and a bunch of kids having problems, it would have been wonderful.

But, no, now I'm disappointed.
posted by Katemonkey at 2:26 PM on June 9, 2013 [50 favorites]


Pinsky should stick to the sex ed stuff (which is is very good at).

I used to listen to him daily on the radio in LA in the late 90s. He and Adam Corolla were such huge pricks, and from such far edges of the prick spectrum. Corolla's thing was that he barely gave a fuck about the callers but would interrogate them about their sex problems with great relish, looking for anything to get off funny lines about. He'd be sexist and vulgar and intentionally obtuse and he'd just generally leer and snicker. Drew's thing was that he sounded VERY much like a professional or at least an expert, and he claimed loudly and often to be at the service of the caller's health and wellbeing, almost always turning his nose up at the jokes from Adam, ignoring/talking past the absurdity of some of the calls, pushing straight to the diagnosis talk and a little brusque insistence that they get their shit together. Sometimes he strongly implied that they were morons for being in this situation, but mostly he seemed to be trying hard to structure his advice so that anyone listening who had analogous issues would have a little something practical to use. He seemed great about things like rashes and transmission rates and the specific risks of lots of fun, risky behavior that people might (and did) call about. But OH MY GOD he was such a moralizing asshole to every young girl who would call in, he pooh-poohed all notions of open relationships and kinkiness, and he didn't seem to have any sympathy for victims of things if they didn't immediately agree to whatever he told them to do.

I have never seen more than a couple minutes of his celebrity suicide reality bunker show, but it was obviously in bad taste and I'm glad it's over.

Stanhope on Pinsky ,

This stand-up video linked upthread is INTENSE. Stanhope is always so intense when he's on. I don't agree with him that 12-step environments are necessarily worthless to atheists (AA can and does save atheist lives) but I absolutely feel and understand his point on the topic of giving over to a higher power, and it makes his routine all the more dark & all the more funny.
posted by damehex at 2:27 PM on June 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


This stand-up video linked upthread is INTENSE. Stanhope is always so intense when he's on. I don't agree with him that 12-step environments are necessarily worthless to atheists (AA can and does save atheist lives) but I absolutely feel and understand his point on the topic of giving over to a higher power, and it makes his routine all the more dark & all the more funny.

Really? It seemed kinda like ultimately what he was saying was, "Hey, the point isn't whether this helps people, the point is that you're all full of shit!" That's good comedy but a problematic approach to life. Likewise, it's funny to say addiction isn't real, but the only people who believe that line are addicts. If you have to deal with an addict, there's no question in your mind addiction is real; it's exhausting, it steals your time and your money, and -- if you're not the addict yourself -- all you get out of it is tired, out of time, and broke. At least the addict gets to get high! Addiction's pretty real. And it's messed up to conflate a scumbag like Drew Pinsky with AA when a central tenet of AA is anonymity -- the whole reason Pinsky does anything, from what I can glean, is to make a name for himself.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:02 PM on June 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


The show is fantastic in concept. I would be very interested to observe a professional approach to Keith Richards and a mason jar full of heroin or Sly Stone and a violin case full of cocaine. The reality is way too fucking light weight.
posted by bukvich at 3:16 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Just wondering: does anyone know what the dude's credentials are? I mean, is he an MD, a psychologist or psychiatrist or what?
posted by easily confused at 3:25 PM on June 9, 2013


Honorary pathologist at this point.
posted by benzenedream at 3:28 PM on June 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


"Around dusk on Feb. 17, Dr. Drew Pinsky was sitting at the computer in his hillside home in Pasadena, Calif., when he received an e-mail from a friend with some troubling news. Mindy McCready, a 37-year-old country singer and a star of the third season of 'Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew,' a television show that made its debut on VH1 in 2008, had shot herself at her house in Heber Springs, Ark."

That really is deeply troubling. I'm sure he was very upset. They sent the email to his home? There probably wasn't a camera crew there to pick up his reaction shots - what a tragedy. Hopefully his webcam was on - even if it's grainy, they can splice it in later as sort of a flashback.
posted by koeselitz at 3:29 PM on June 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


He IS an MD, but was still in med school when love line first went on the air.
He's a homophobe as well as a media whore: when kids would call asking how to to come out to their parents he would always tell them to keep quiet instead of putting them in touch with pflag
posted by brujita at 3:30 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Comparing addiction to cancer? Come ON.

That's what Kevin McCauley, the maker of this video "Pleasure Unwoven" used to say.
posted by telstar at 3:32 PM on June 9, 2013


I battle addiction constantly, it's an easy slide to go back to the mental state of unreality where consequences have some mysterious and unsolveable relationship to my own actions or inaction, and I can SORT of see how a show like Celebrity Rehab MIGHT be useful to some addicts, but generally speaking I'd say no way in hell. Also, the only thing I really know about Loveline is from back in the '90s when my pals and I knew a guy who got the nickname "Lumpy" from calling into Loveline, decribing his problem, and having someone local recognize his voice. So whether or nut he got the sticky lump fixed, the show certainly didn't do poor old Lumpy any favors in the "social acceptance" department. Yeah, I think if Dr. Drew is all about "hard facts and statistics" maybe he should compare his show's recovery rates with people in AA or just doing it cold turkey like me. (iirc AA and cold turkey have about the same recovery rate, like 50%)
posted by eparchos at 3:43 PM on June 9, 2013


The fact this entire article even exists is testament to the skewed vision so many have towards addiction resources. Even the pathetic title of the article - "Where Rehab Meets Reality" - is ludicrous in that it even gives the slightest credence to a person who is playing the addiction industry for all it's worth. From CR to his constant appearances on the various TeenMomPorn shows, this guy is not doing anyone any favors but himself and the corporations that benefit from the ad sales his appearances generate. I would love to see a success percentage (if it can even be quantified) of those people that have gone on to productive lives following interactions with DP as opposed to those who fell back into the exact same patterns that existed before the red light lit up on DP's camera.

And of course, far be it for the NYT to make Pinski a footnote of the article and focus on why McCready was not able to get and accept the help she needed. Given though it is the same paper that just last week published a story where a guy inflated his account of an inconvenient flight into a near remake of Airport '77, it is not surprising. Another terrific NYT cursory of examination of something everyone already knew.

Where Rehab Meets Reality my ass. Want some fucking reality? How about a story where people fucking die when snake oil salesmen with medical degrees forget their first job is to treat people, not stick cameras in their faces to poke up their Nielsen ratings. Then again, stories like that also don't play well when you are patting oneself on the back.

DP is a dangerous person and the NYT makes him more so for glossing over his pathetic attempt at medicine.'

The whole thing makes me sick.
posted by lampshade at 3:50 PM on June 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


The thing is that this is something that goes along with medicine - narcissism is a very common among doctors. It often turns out to be a useful and functional thing; it drives a sense of perfectionism and superiority that acts as a powerful motivator. But that's only helpful when doctors have enough pride not to become reality-show hacks. As time goes on, more and more Drew Pinskys are able to convince themselves that this isn't an execrable way to do medicine. And that's very unfortunate.
posted by koeselitz at 3:52 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can SORT of see how a show like Celebrity Rehab MIGHT be useful to some addicts

I guess this show and Intervention might make people think "I could get treatment too", and take some action on that, but I have a bad feeling that most of the viewers are just enjoying gaping at the train wrecks, or justifying whatever their own issues in life are by saying, hey, I'm not as bad as that.
posted by thelonius at 3:55 PM on June 9, 2013


For me, Pinsky and the showrunners lost their last shred of credibility when they cast Heidi Fleiss and her convicted abuser and ex, Tom Sizemore, at the same time. The only plausible reason to do it was to create a spectacle at the immense risk of each of them being traumatized and triggered by being put together. I had watched a few early episodes and made my own judgments about the show long before that point, but I challenge any fan of Dr. Drew or the show to defend that casting decision.
posted by gimli at 3:57 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


The article explains that he is an MD, from USC, I think. I read a previous article about him where he talked about how the reason why he got into treating addiction was that unlike with other conditions, when addicts really get better, they get a lot better. Like, someone with serious cancer might live a few years longer than predicted, and that's great, but someone who truly kicks an addiction, as much as one can, is a completely different person. I liked that perspective.

I don't have any animosity towards Dr. Drew though I understand the sentiments of those who do. I've watched a lot of Teen Mom and 16 and Pregnant. Some of the girls that are on the shows seem like they're genuinely trying to get it together, others less so. Either way, it's hard for me to blame Dr. Drew for their failures.

I also watch Intervention a lot. In some ways, I feel like that show has actually been educational. I don't know that I believe in the idea that one has to hit rock bottom to get better but there are a lot of other good ideas in there - that people won't change unless others stop trying to fix their problems for them and that addicts aren't bad people, they're sick people, for example.

But while there are a lot of similarities between Celebrity Rehab and Intervention, I have only watched the former a few times. All I got out of Celebrity Rehab was, look, crazy people being crazy, how original.

I don't begrudge Dr. Drew for wanting to make money but I think we can all agree that if he wants to help sick people and inform the greater public, there are better ways he could do it.
posted by kat518 at 4:04 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I used to listen to him daily on the radio in LA in the late 90s. He and Adam Carolla were such huge pricks

Ah, good point. At that point, the show was often pretty mean-spirited, especially toward young callers.

I was thinking more the pre-Carolla Loveline in the 80s. If memory serves, it was a kinder, gentler Loveline. The co-host back then, Ricky Rachtman, wasn't the most enlightened of souls, but he *was* a relatively harmless doofus; and the dynamic between him and Dr. P lacked the undercurrent of derision that marks the tag-teaming that Dr. P and Carolla did on callers.
posted by nacho fries at 4:35 PM on June 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


iirc AA and cold turkey have about the same recovery rate, like 50%

What, 50% on the first shot? 50% after six months? And what does recovery mean in this context? Embrace life long abstinence without relapse?

In fact, I think you recall completely incorrectly. There are no reliable stats for either group. How could there be? Neither group are in contact with anyone that collects stats.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:37 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


If you do want to maximize your chances of success though, the best thing you can do is:

a.) seek treatment
b.) join some kind of peer-based support group. Whether that be AA or Smart or just a bunch of pals on the same path.

People who connect to some kind of peer support group do better in treatment than treatment on its own. And people who get treatment do far better than people who don't get treatment. But doing both maximizes your chances of success.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:43 PM on June 9, 2013


The AA top level council (or whatever they call it) release numbers, or they used to, which of course are not suitable for a purpose like comparing their program's results to the success of people who stop drinking via other forms of support.

You'd have to pick some kind of benchmark, like being sober for a year, I suppose. And honestly, to be fair to AA, in comparing them to self-directed people, I'd say you'd have to discount everyone who is there only because of some kind of coercion, such as being ordered to attend by a judge (a judge once told a guy I know that anyone who drinks 3 beers in a sitting is an alcoholic, by the way), because how can you compare those folks to people who sincerely want to get sober?

50% sounds really high to me, for either group.
posted by thelonius at 4:46 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Some of the girls that are on the shows seem like they're genuinely trying to get it together, others less so. Either way, it's hard for me to blame Dr. Drew for their failures.

Sure, but he could be less of a preening judgmental asshole about the whole thing.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 4:51 PM on June 9, 2013


Whether or not the kids are trying to get it together, whether or not Pinsky thinks he's helping people, the conflict of interest is clear: he makes money when other people suffer, and he makes more money when they suffer publicly. I'm not blaming him directly for anyone's deaths, but what he's created really isn't a healthy environment for people who want to get better. Public suffering in the name of entertainment is not a viable treatment process for any known disorder or condition; indeed, it's know to exacerbate a host of problems. One of them, I think it's safe to say (based on its historic entanglement with the lives of entertainers) is addiction.
posted by koeselitz at 4:58 PM on June 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


Shows about addiction are like cable news shows: they exist to generate an audience and ad revenues. A lot of cable news is not about telling you something new, but rehashing it in a way to keep you tuned in. In the case of addiction related shows, they keep you coming back to see who freaks out each week at the facility. A second effect is they serve as a pacifier to those who do not suffer from addiction issues by allowing them to think they understand how to deal with those persons who do have those issues. In both cases, gaining any measure of understanding of a situation as shown in these types of shows is difficult at best.

They are TV shows, not medical practice and using them as a part of an understanding of the issue is shortsighted. Heck, it's like trying to sympathize with Catholic priest sex abuse victims by quoting lines from Davey & Goliath. It is a fantasy representation of a real problem that seeks to play to the sentimentality and fears of people who do not suffer from addiction.....and sell them Sham-Wows.
posted by lampshade at 5:16 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


What, 50% on the first shot? 50% after six months? And what does recovery mean in this context? Embrace life long abstinence without relapse?

In fact, I think you recall completely incorrectly.


Well, looking at a quick google search of "cold turkey versus AA recovery rate" gives me a nice spectrum of conflicting information just about as valuable as reading undocumented assertions in any forum, so yeah, I'd say I do recall pretty correctly. Next time rather than ramble on about unsupported memories I guess I should just pop over to a random insult generator instead, ya think?
posted by eparchos at 5:33 PM on June 9, 2013


The thing that really stuck to me was his shock that he was being held responsible. My father was an orthopedic surgeon....and man the thing patients would blame him for, but it goes with the territory. People are generally irrational, but you throw in the emotion of being sick-the fear, the vulnerability-and if there is a poor outcome, even one that is totally expected, well, blaming someone rather than accept the situation just sucks....it happens a lot to doctors. Plus the nature of the illness can distort memories...basically doctors get blamed for a lot that they are in no way responsible for and every one of them I've ever met is pretty aware of that.

Years ago my mother, who was a hospital admin at the time, hosted a cocktail party. A friend brought along a couple and the wife went apeshit on a doctor insisting that he had risked her husband's leg not setting correctly because he refused to come into the ER and treat it when he was on call three years earlier. He (a very sweet man) was so shaken, he checked. Turned out it wasn't him at all. His partner, the husband's regular ortho, had consulted with the ER doc about the break and deemed the leg would be OK until morning at which point he set the leg, which healed perfectly. After the unfairly castigated doctor left party, the wife went around looking for affirmation that she was in the right....only the party was mainly doctor, nurses, and hospital admins so...yeah. I'm sure if this had been any other party though she would have gotten a lot of reinforcement that yes she was absolutely in the right and how dare that doctor be so awful...

This is not to say that Drew shouldn't be blamed for things. I think the criticism of him is not only valid, but I'm surprised it took this long. I just can't believe he didn't expect it.
posted by miss-lapin at 5:49 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, looking at a quick google search of "cold turkey versus AA recovery rate" gives me a nice spectrum of conflicting information just about as valuable as reading undocumented assertions in any forum, so yeah, I'd say I do recall pretty correctly. Next time rather than ramble on about unsupported memories I guess I should just pop over to a random insult generator instead, ya think?

I think you guys should knock this off. Look, no one knows a way that will always work, and no one can help anyone who doesn't want help, and there is never any guarantee that an addicted person who is clean today will still be clean tomorrow. AA makes no claim to the contrary. A lot of people have serious issues with AA's effectiveness and, interestingly, it seems like a lot of those people drink a lot. So, I don't know. Make of it what you will, but it's all sideways to the question of Drew Pinsky. Pinsky does indeed make claims about being able to help people, but that's where the similarities between Pinsky and AA end. Pinsky is a profiteer and a gloryhound. AA makes no money and its members are anonymous. Also, Pinsky is what this thread is actually about.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:52 PM on June 9, 2013 [11 favorites]


People who connect to some kind of peer support group do better in treatment than treatment on its own. And people who get treatment do far better than people who don't get treatment. But doing both maximizes your chances of success

I'm not questioning the truth of those statements, but am interested in seeing the info they are based upon. Are there some publicly-available findings I can take a look at?
posted by nacho fries at 5:58 PM on June 9, 2013


@kittens for breakfast
Amen, and recovery is recovery regardless of how someone does it. If Pinsky's show helps one or two people without directly harming anybody, I don't really see how it's all that bad, but it MIGHT be being used as yet another "fallback position" for addicts who go on the show to lapse. The fact that it isn't necessarily a lifetime commitment, being a television show with limited support, makes it pretty useless for the people it puts up there unless there's a more direct "stick them in rehab" kind of payoff for it. SO maybe they should make it a game show, where the winner gets an all-expenses-paid trip to a treatment center of their choice with a person hired specifically by the show to monitor their recovery for at least the next year or so. THEN it couldn't be seen as nearly as exploitative as it obviously is, and Dr. Drew can stop making sadfaces for the journalists.
posted by eparchos at 6:02 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


"... it was just this regular night-time thing on KROQ where Jim "Poorman" Trenton and Dr. Drew Pinksky took calls from teenagers asking ridiculous questions about sex because they had nowhere else to go."

I don't know if they've made peace since, but back in the 1990s Trenton had a super low-budget Loveline-esque show on a local TV station, and he used to get really snarly at the mere mention of Pinsky. IIRC, Trenton felt that he had basically created Loveline and brought Pinsky aboard, and then KROQ fired him but kept Pinsky and ended up having a big, nationwide success based on Trenton's idea. Trenton was a very volatile fellow (he ended up getting fired from that TV show because he got naked during a live broadcast) but I didn't doubt his version of events.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 6:18 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I saw Celebrity Rehab a few times and found it disturbing. Dr. Drew came across to me as creepily fixated on Bai Ling, who also looked like she had a lot more than just alcoholism going on with her at that point. That didn't seem like a safe situation to me.
posted by BibiRose at 6:30 PM on June 9, 2013


Just wondering: does anyone know what the dude's credentials are? I mean, is he an MD, a psychologist or psychiatrist or what?

His dad was a doc, he was educated at really good schools (fancy LA prep school, undergrad at Amherst and med school at USC).

No doubt he's smart, but the choices he's made, the fame-seeking, is a major weakness. He should know better, but he chooses not to.

Mindy McCready was a mess. Someone should have stepped in and said, "No, don't do this on TV" or even earlier, "No, don't have kids until you're clean." She was aggressive and volatile and relapsed all the time. Dr Drew should have known better than to try and help her.

I wonder though, did the fathers of her kids even try to help this woman, the mother of their sons? And why did they impregnate a drug addict? I'm very sorry for her sons and the loss of their mom.
posted by discopolo at 6:30 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Addiction can be a disorder & a disease. There are lots of ongoing studies and the science is far from conclusive on this being just about bad habits/self control or simplistic mind over matter.
posted by asra at 6:37 PM on June 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


No recovering addict I know cares at all whether it's a disorder or a disease or neither or both. Most of them don't give a shit how anyone else gets clean, either. Most of the debate I see on issues like that seems to be from people who haven't lived it. From what I've seen over years witnessing addiction in various forms, people are different, and the degree to which addicts become addicted varies, and some things work for some that don't work for others, and some will never get clean no matter what they do.

Anyway, I'm glad to see this thread here, and that so many of you agree with my instincts regarding this gross, gross man. I watched the first season of Celebrity Rehab and sort of enjoyed it in that icky-feeling reality TV show sort of way, but if the man had any integrity he would have quit doing it after seeing what a time-wasting spectacle it obviously was. And nobody worth any sort of respect would ever sign up for a talk show on CNN Headline News, for god's sake. He's worse than the Kardashians at this point; at least they aren't claiming they can help people.
posted by something something at 6:47 PM on June 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Well, it is important to understand the causes in order to find an effective cure....
posted by asra at 6:49 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


While I favorite the sentiment, something something, I disagree. I do care about whether it's a disease or a disorder or whatever, because I think, from experiencing addiction and recovery and all that in my own life, that it is a PHYSICAL problem having to do with chemicals and neuroscience. Hence, I think it should be studied seriously as such, hopefully with the idea of curing it. Be it a disorder or a disease, real medical treatment should be the goal here, recovery programs/methods being as unreliable and unpredictable as they are is not a solution in any real sense, but addressing the issue of addiction as a medical problem might be.
posted by eparchos at 6:57 PM on June 9, 2013


Most of the debate I see on issues like that seems to be from people who haven't lived it.

Yeah, people who aren’t addicts and people who are active addicts love to debate the merits of various forms of treatment, loudly and judgmentally.
posted by bongo_x at 7:01 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


To think, I spent my bile on that asshole philosopher in a thread from the other day. Pinsky deserves it so much more.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:13 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's another really excellent profile of Dr. Drew from GQ a few years ago that contains this:
If I know all this, Drew knows this, which means that by doing this ethically murky stuff (a) he bowed to a network's desire for sensationalism, (b) his judgment as a doctor is tangled, or (c) in this new phase of his career, his choices are one part clinical, the other part showbiz.
The whole article is great.
posted by Charity Garfein at 7:23 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Again, I might be giving Dr. Drew too much credit but when I've seen him on Teen Mom (and he's only on the wrap-up episode at the end), sometimes I've thought he was judgmental but more often, it has seemed like he's pointed things out to the girls that they didn't see otherwise. Like they'll agree that someone didn't treat them well but they want to stay with him just so they'll "be a family" for the baby.

Similarly, there was a Loveline where a girl called in with a question but she talked in a little girl voice. He was like, wait, were you molested? And she had been as a little girl. I thought he was a magician when I heard that show.

It was interesting to read the article because they quoted Dr. Oz and I'd argue that he's worse than Dr. Drew. I feel like Oz is worse because he'll actually say, yellow skittles make you lose weight. I feel like Dr. Drew is more often trying to corral a circus.
posted by kat518 at 7:27 PM on June 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


Similarly, there was a Loveline where a girl called in with a question but she talked in a little girl voice. He was like, wait, were you molested? And she had been as a little girl. I thought he was a magician when I heard that show.

I am one of those people who started listening to Loveline when Poorman and then Rachtman were hosts, when I lived in north county San Diego. If I put my radio in a certain corner of my room, a set my antenna just so, it would come in. Pretty much everyone I went to school with did this. And by the time Adam Carolla was the full time host, they were pulling this bit of "magic" every week. And I hated it then and I still hate it now. It led to so many girls I know, both family members and friends, being accused by assholes in school of being molested. Even if some, or all, of those girls had been, it's still fucking stupid.

And half of the time them pointing it out on the show had little if anything to do at all with the question the girl was asking.

ex: "I'm 16 and thinking about having sex with my boyfriend, but I'm not sure"
"You sound like a little girl, so you were molested, definitely don't have sex, you're just doing it to validate yourself because that's the only way you know how to get love/attention"

I'm sure those weren't the exact words, but even close to 20 years later now, that's definitely the implication I remember.

Sorry for the rant, but I seriously HATE that whole "you have a baby-voice/girly-voice/high-pitched voice so you are now branded MOLESTED" shit.
posted by primalux at 9:19 PM on June 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


Dr. Oz is much worse than Dr. Drew.

Dr. Drew is paying celebrities to melt down. But they agree to do it because they've reached the point in their careers where that's the most attractive option for them. It's some of the basest exploitation in the entertainment world, but the patients are exploiting themselves and their own illnesses. And maybe it does educate some people about the danger of addiction.

Dr. Oz on the other hand is just pushing various forms of bullshit hysteria and quackery on the public. He's selling false goods to people who think they're getting medicine and science.
posted by knoyers at 9:23 PM on June 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


I heard him do the "were you molested" shtick. A third of all women report having been sexually abused in some way. It struck me as nothing more complicated than a sham psychic might do with a cold reading. "I have a sexual problem." "You were molested." "How did you know!"

One in three. That's how he knew. And it is creepy for him to play the odds to make himself seem like a sexual psychic.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:22 PM on June 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


Better stick with Dr. Dre, then
posted by thelonius at 11:32 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


damehex: "This stand-up video linked upthread is INTENSE. Stanhope is always so intense when he's on. I don't agree with him that 12-step environments are necessarily worthless to atheists (AA can and does save atheist lives) but I absolutely feel and understand his point on the topic of giving over to a higher power, and it makes his routine all the more dark & all the more funny."

I like Stanhope, but he hasn't conquered his demons. Addiction is often a result of a coping mechanism used to alleviate underlying problems, which builds up emotional dependency and denial. Anyone who puts that much energy into defending his choices (all while drinking and smoking) probably has that going on. But I get it, AA isn't for everyone, and I respect that he's not ready to deal with it and may never be. I had to walk my own path, and it's fucking hard, but so are all roads out of that hell.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:03 AM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


I heard him do the "were you molested" shtick.

I heard him and Corolla berating a woman with a high pitched voice because she was "obviously either in denial or lying to them" about her abuse, after she refuted their accusations. They did the psychic abuse detection trick multiple times during the same episode, not just weekly.
posted by benzenedream at 12:42 AM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Dr Drew is doing better with a pulpit on the Moral Outrage Channel that used to be headline news.

The educational value of celebrity rehab was marginal compared to its spectacle factor. Reality TV is about money, ratings, entertainment, and shots at getting famous or rebooting your fame. I don't believe for one minute that Dr Drew or other producers calculated the factors involved then decided who was on the show by who was most likely to benefit. It was about creating a marketable TV show first other factors were way down the list.

One of the problems with abstinence based treatment is that not enough is taught about harm reduction. Given the high relapse rate it really ought to be. Instead of"if you relapse you'll die" maybe the message ought to be "if you relapse remember that driving intoxicated is a horrible risk to yourself and the whole community, remember to get adequate nutrition, and know help is still available. If you are suicidal you can always get to an emergency room or dial 9-1-1."
posted by logonym at 12:45 AM on June 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


Dr. Pinsky told a sympathetic Dr. Mehmet Oz

Two people who I feel should be banned from receiving any media attention at all, as they've gone from "Do No Harm" to "Get More Ratings".
posted by mrbill at 8:03 AM on June 10, 2013


I'm sorry - I didn't realize that they were so into telling people that they were obviously molested because they have high-pitched voices. That's obnoxious, especially when it's not even related to the subject of the call or when it transitions to "you're lying and/or in denial."
posted by kat518 at 8:15 AM on June 10, 2013


Another topic that Dr. Drew misses the boat on: Cannabis dependency.

No doubt, many stoners go over the line, and destructive, habitual use of marijuana is a definite problem with negative consequences for some. But it's questionable as to whether cannabis can be lumped into the same categories as physically addictive substances like alcohol, cocaine, speed and opiates.

Dr. Drew, in his professional life, would like you to think otherwise. To him, marijuana is an addictive drug. It's dangerous. He takes a jaundiced view of legalization efforts, and constantly warns patients of marijuana's addictive properties.

Personally? He doesn't smoke weed, after having trying it once or twice in college. But he's a boozer. He only drinks socially, and in small amounts. But I've yet to here him say, "I'm a drug user. And my drug of choice is alcohol," or something to that effect. To him, booze use doesn't equate to drug use.

He also pleasures himself "only when I'm on the road."
posted by Gordion Knott at 8:31 AM on June 10, 2013


But OH MY GOD he was such a moralizing asshole to every young girl who would call in, he pooh-poohed all notions of open relationships and kinkiness...

Oh, yeah. Wasn't he really judgmental about stuff like light bondage? Everything is abuse in his mind.
posted by BibiRose at 8:38 AM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Has there ever been a decent doctor known as "Doctor [FirstName]?" (Other than Dr. Dre, that is?)

(Insert Betteridge Law of Headlines here]
posted by entropicamericana at 9:20 AM on June 10, 2013


I worked personally with Drew for a bit on his website in 1999-2000 until they couldn't get any more funding (note, the website now is nothing like it was back in 2000).

As an MD, I can tell you with complete confidence that, at least back then, he struck me as a dedicated physician whose main goal was to provide medical advice (primarily about sex, drugs, and mental illness) to teens and adolescents, and did so without condescending to them by talking on their levels. I certainly never found him to be any more judgmental than any other physician. Consider, though, that this is a very at-risk age group desperate for information. (Remember the amount and quality of information 13+ years ago is hardly what it is today.) I thought he dealt with them very well and, from my own interactions with them, I can say unequivocally that they respected him and his opinion because of the way he spoke to them. One person's contempt for moralizing is another person's appreciation for blunt advice.

At the time, he was still practicing (I don't remember how many days/week) and running a rehab center in Pasadena. I went there with him a couple of times to observe, and there was no indication that he was anything but a physician who genuinely cared about the welfare of his patients. In fact, watching the way he interacted, combined with a genuine niceness, I thought that if I had more attending physicians like that in med school and residency, I might be a practicing physician today.

I don't watch any of those reality shows, but I can tell peripherally how he's changed. I don't know happened between the late '90s/early '00s, but I find it extremely disheartening.

Regardless, I at least wanted to provide some first-hand knowledge of what he was like when I knew and worked him. I had nothing but the utmost respect for him and what he was doing.
posted by ssmug at 9:26 AM on June 10, 2013 [15 favorites]


Sounds like he's got a manager-wife who is really into money, and keeping him out of her hair. (A toxic combination, in this case.)
posted by Scram at 5:11 AM on June 11, 2013


Gordion Knott: "Dr. Drew, in his professional life, would like you to think otherwise. To him, marijuana is an addictive drug. It's dangerous. He takes a jaundiced view of legalization efforts, and constantly warns patients of marijuana's addictive properties."

When I last listened to Loveline, it was on MTV with Pinsky and Carolla, and Diane Farr was the third wheel. This must have been back in the '90s. Dr. Drew's default assumption when habitual marijuana use was mentioned was that there is some untreated trauma, which used to bother me a lot back then. It was presumptuous at best. These days, I think honestly it's not a bad guess statistically speaking, and in the end I found out it was true for me; his reaction to it was that it was a problem and needed to be eliminated. People self-medicate with marijuana, but it's not necessarily a bad outcome for treating anxiety due to trauma. These days you can get a prescription for medical marijuana for PTSD in many states where it's legal. A lot of people find it more helpful than klonopin or xanax - myself included - both of which are frequently prescribed for PTSD, but it does depend on the individual.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:50 AM on June 11, 2013


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