Celebrity Rehab – An Education

I’ve been on the fence about Celebrity Rehab on VH1. Is it really worth it for addicted celebrities or pseudo-celebrities to air their dirty laundry on a reality show for the sake of becoming sober? Does it really work? I have no answer.

What I can comment on, is that the man in charge, Dr. Drew Pinsky, cares for and talks to his patients with great deal of compassion and genuine concern. The humanity that he extends  makes everyone wish they have  such an advocate in their life – a powerful believer that pushes you to listen and believe that anything you set your mind to, you can and will accomplish.

Even with the most challenging participants, often detoxing from the most horrid of drugs for the first time in years, Dr. Pinsky and the dedicated staff at Pasadena Recovery Center, really seem to want the best from the rehabbers. The crap that Shelley, the resident tech, has to deal with (and clean up. Ick!) only convinces you that she’s in it for the long haul. That she believes her own recovery is dependent upon the success of others she cares for – that goes for all of them. She and her colleagues are truly invested.

But it’s the latest episode that makes me bring up this unusual show. In a private session, Dr. Drew counsels the alcohol and drug abuser Frankie Lons (mostly known for being the mom of singer Keshia Cole). In a most immature tantrum-like way, Frankie complains that everybody wants her to act her age – 50.  In a gentle, yet firm, manner, Drew conveys to Frankie that because of her years of abuse, her brain is stuck at the age of 20, when she began her bad habits. It is a fast, yet incredibly poignant moment, when the audience fully captures Frankie’s story. She is a female Peter Pan. She can’t grow up. She hasn’t learned how. Her actions are like an adolescent, because that’s all she knows. It is a piece of storytelling that cracks open the world of an addict and exposes a small glimpse to us non-abusers.  At the end, Drew (ever the advocate) encourages Frankie that her brain will learn to catch up.  The more she enters her sobriety, the more her brain will learn to be its true age. There is hope. There is progress. If she wants it.

Like I said, I don’t know if it’s a good idea for addicts to try to become sober in front of cameras. But I am moved by Frankie’s story. I am educated. And that should count for something.

Can I get an amen?

1 thought on “Celebrity Rehab – An Education”

  1. You can always get an amen for a solid appreciation for Dr. Drew’s clinical prowess! He’s good — there’s no doubt about it.

    And for the record, the immediacy of the ethical concerns around the show is not lost on Dr. Drew, who frequently discusses how he struggles with that, and has luckily seen good outcomes in the prior depicted patients/celebrities.

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