Last week was stunning for its premiers, and I can’t decide if I’m more excited about Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew or Bravo’s new Make Me A Supermodel. Let’s talk about Drew’s show. I first worked with Dr. Drew when I was an 18-year-old intern at KROQ radio here in Los Angeles. I was struck by the way he stayed so calm and unfazed by the wild and absurd questions and guests on his show Loveline, where the original host Poorman made certain there was a constant circus flying around Drew’s stability. Drew always seemed like the kind of doctor you’d want if your life went into turmoil, or at least the nonjudgmental guy you’d want to call if something purple flared up on your genitals.
The thing that continues to impress me about Dr. Drew is his passion for treating addiction, and in addition to hosting two radio shows and a TV show he has always maintained his practice as a working physician mostly treating addicts. Scheduling lunch with Drew is similar to microneurosugery: leisure pockets are carefully placed in between critical chunks of his day dedicated to salvaging lives or answering millions of questions about pearly penile papules. Dr. Drew is no Dr. Phil. His credentials do not come into question, especially in the addiction arena, because he is at the top of his field that happens to be the imperfect science of treating people who are largely hell bent on destroying their own lives.
Former American Idol finalist Jessica Sierra has been in the news for her DUI and assault arrest and jail time, and as a participant in Drew’s Celebrity Rehab people somehow snicker as though the show was some cartoonish failure the participants dabbled in between auditions. I know Drew poured his heart and soul and expertise into this experience and has gone to great lengths to both treat and protect everyone involved. The people on this show are sick, and although 21 days of intense treatment is sufficient to get the ball rolling, there are a lot of damaged Baldwins in the world for whom good intentions are rarely enough. These guys need 60-90 days of inpatient rehab to have a shot at reclaiming their lives, and sadly for Jessica that time will start during her incarceration. According to other American Idol contestants from Jessica’s season she is a talented girl who is as troubled as she is gifted, and instead of writing her own ticket through music she’ll do it in the system. Is she a failure? Not as long as she’s alive. As Dr. Drew once told me you have to maintain hope that addicts will heal; it’s the only way to continue treating their sickness otherwise it becomes a bleak, pointless and nihilistic proposition.