Dr. Drew Pinsky has praised the network airing his new reality television show, Rehab With Dr. Drew, for spending thousands of dollars to treat patients — even after the program has stopped shooting.
The genre of television programming has come under fire about the issue of aftercare for contestants and subjects, in the wake of the suicide of Russell Armstrong, the estranged spouse of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Taylor Armstrong, was found dead in August 2011, at the age of 47.
The network was criticized for not doing enough to help out the oft-troubled Armstrong.
“It (aftercare) doesn’t exist, but it does exist for Rehab patients,” Dr. Drew said in an interview on Thursday’s episode of The Daily Buzz, a live webcast on Celebuzz. “It is necessary. The one point I make is, ‘This is just the beginning, guys. This is where you are started.’ The process takes a year or so to get a recovery underway.
“Because these regular people are more addictive, more severe addicts that celebrities — this really is a severe group — VH1 obliged.”
Dr. Drew, a nationally renowned addiction medicine specialist, returns to the airwaves of VH1 on Sunday for season six of his hit show. But this time, there’s a twist with his popular warts-and-all style documentary series: Treating celebrities has been shelved and instead eight regular folks are in.
Why did the doctor cut the stars loose — for now?
“It is something I always wanted to do,” he said. “The original notion I had when they approached me about doing Celebrity Rehab was, ‘What a great idea, why don’t we put regular people in with celebrities to make the point that we treat everybody the same… That didn’t end up happening, of course.
“But finally I am getting a chance to show what Bob (Forrest), Shelley (Sprague) and I do normally — treat people like you and I, regular people. It turned out to be a very intense experience.”
How are they doing today, Celebuzz Editor in Chief Dylan Howard asked Dr. Drew.
“We are still struggling with the patients to this day,” he said. “They are all sober — six of them are in sober living — and it is a group that needs a lot of treatment.”
“I keep telling VH1, I wish they would take a bow. They have gone to the map on behalf of these patients repeatedly, funding their ongoing care. No one ever sees that part. VH1 has very kindly supported that, whenever I have asked for more treatment.”
The series is confronting, even depicting hardcore drug use — as the video preview above shows.
When asked why it is important to show drug use, Dr. Drew said: “To me, it is matter of fact — that’s their condition. These are drug addicts, they do drugs. People need to be hit between the eyes about this disease because, in our country, it is one of the diseases of our time. It is a very serious problem.”
Dr. Drew — who also hosts the HLN nightly show Dr. Drew and radio program Loveline — also addressed criticism of the reality television treatment, in the wake of the deaths of series’ alumni Joey Kovar, who died of a drug overdose and Rodney King, who was in a “state of drug and alcohol induced delirium” when he passed away, according to the official toxicology report.
In the wake of the deaths, one media outlet even chided Dr. Drew as being “officially the grim reaper.”
“If someone has severe enough addiction that they need to see me, the prognosis is bad,” Dr Drew responded.
“They have a life threatening condition. I am like an oncologist. If we were doing a show on cancer, severe life threatening cancer, and we did everything we could, but people died, people would say (the cause) was cancer. Because it is addiction, people somehow go ‘You should have been able to cure that, or people should have stopped.’ No, the reality is, bad addiction has a worse prognosis than the majority of cancer. People don’t get that.
“My patients die, in spite of everything we do. If they don’t continue to do the daily work, there life is in jeopardy.”
But he added, “There are miracles and surprises every day in addiction and that is what keeps me going.”
Watch The Daily Buzz above for which celebrity Dr. Drew thinks is his best success story and watch Rehab With Dr. Drew on VHI Sunday night at 8 p.m. ET/PT.