I first came across the words of Dr. Drew Pinksy via Loveline, the once-MTV program turned radio show. Callers would phone the show with any number of sexual problems and scenarios for Dr. Drew, co-hosts, and guests to toss in their 2 cents. Most of the "advice" callers received arrived in the form of jokes and a condescending attitude, a fabulous response to people calling with real problems. Well, most of them were real. The ones that weren't deserved everything they got... Within 30 seconds of talking to a caller, Dr. Drew had already given them a diagnosis and the majority were told that they were sexually abused as children, whether they remembered it or not. It is actually completely unethical and incorrect for a doctor to diagnose a patient they haven't even met with based on dialogue that doesn't even last one minute. Dr. Drew is not the all-seeing eye of the universe, which would probably shock the hell out of him. People are complex machines unable to be broken down in a millisecond. I was often taken aback by some of the comments and smugness of Dr. Drew towards people in need.
Now, Dr. Drew is onto reality shows (surprise, surprise). First there was the Celebrity Rehab on VH1, which followed a group of addicts on the road to recovery. Then came Sober House, which chronicled the transition of addicts from a rehab clinic into sober living prior to taking their lives completely back in the real world. Initially I thought the concepts of the show were interesting, then I actually thought about what I was watching from the perspective of the guinea pigs who were a part of it. Whether they signed contracts to be on the show or not, this experiment is highly immoral and bound to lead to failure among the participants. The presence of cameras undoubtedly affects human behavior. The last thing addicts need is extra stimulation and reasons to act out. Suddenly, the patients are more concerned about getting their daily dose of publicity than actually taking their recovery seriously. It's not a surprise most of the individuals on the show are still relapsing constantly. How could they not??? The very idea of bringing cameras into the world of addicts breaks two of the cardinal 12 traditions of AA, NA, and recovery programs (which have 'Anonymous' as part of their title for a reason:
11. ... we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films.
12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.
(Source: The 12 Traditions of AA)
Nothing can break sobriety like people already obsessed with fame having more opportunities to access the very world that has contributed to the excess that put them at a rehab facility. These patients are going through very private battles which they can only weather under anonymous conditions. Dr. Drew is well-versed in this and doesn't appear to care about the success rate of his patients recoveries but rather getting his own name out in the public eye.
I discussed this matter with a good friend of mine who successfully fought the perils of addiction and turned his life around. He has since been sober for over a decade and is living a very fulfilled life. He can't stand these reality shows, which he finds to be a horrid idea and damaging to not only the participants but the fields of recovery themselves. He is correct to point out that such scenarios including cameras create opportunity for great conflict and drama, the essence of "watchable" TV. He also points out that many of these people are has-beens anyway and their addiction is suddenly affording them the opportunity to get famous again, so what message does that send out?
Clearly, these addicts are not a priority for anything but good ratings. My heart goes out to these people who are obviously under tremendous strain and are poor decision makers, proven by their decision to compromise recovery by signing onto one of these shows. I have no idea how Dr. Drew thinks he can justify such behavior, but I'd like to see him try. He writes extensively about ego, narcissism, and celebrity, three things that seem to describe him to a T.