Photo Credit: John M. Heller/Getty Images
Yesterday, Dr. Drew Pinsky haters heard the words they've been longing for. There will be no more sessions of VH-1's Celebrity Rehab. "I don't have plans to do that again, " Pinsky told the Zach Sang & The Gang radio show. "I'm tired of taking all the heat. It's just ridiculous."
For many critics of Dr. Drew, Mindy McCready's suicide in February was the last straw. The 37-year-old country singer was the fifth cast member of Celebrity Rehab to die within the last two years. To put that in perspective, five out of 42 cast members have died. He's lost 10% of them.
Among the dead are Season 1's Jeff Conaway (Taxi); Season 2's Rodney King; and Season 3's Mike Starr (Alice in Chains bassist) and Joey Kovar (former Real World cast member). McCready was their Season 3 cast mate.
"Is Dr. Drew Too Risky for Prime Time?" asked Maia Szalavitz, a well-respected journalist in the field of addiction, a week after her death. "I have been attacking his methods from the get-go," wrote Stanton Peele, Ph. D., J.D., in Psychology Today. That Dr. Drew is still out flacking exactly the same garbled mess of a treatment philosophy on our major media is a horror show, and a national tragedy."
But on the radio show, Drew certainly didn't admit defeat. Rather than accept responsibility for the patient deaths, he pointed out the obvious: Many of his patients were flirting with death long before they met him. "These are really sick people, that's why they die," Pinsky said. "These are people with life-threatening addiction."
It's a solid point, and he's made it before, in an interview with CNN’s Don Lemon. "One of my hopes was, in bringing Celebrity Rehab out, was to teach people how dangerous addiction was," Drew told Lemon. "If I was doing a show on cancer, there would not be much surprise when my cancer patient died. In fact, we'd celebrate a few years of good quality life. People don't understand that addiction has virtually the same prognosis."
Nonetheless, the telegenic doctor has made a name for himself by working with high-profile (if not A-list) patients, and he's made millions documenting their attempts at recovery. "There’s been a lot of subtle animosity against Dr. Drew for a while, but it’s gone into overdrive now," Celeb Rehab counselor Bob Forrest said recently, in an interview with the Daily Beast's Maer Roshan. "[McCready's death] has given the haters something to hang their hat on."
Maer asked whether Forrest thought the show could survive this kind of controversy. "The show has kind of run its course anyway, don’t you think?" he replied. "None of these shows are as novel as they were. Candy Finnegan [an addiction specialist who stars on] A&E's Intervention is a friend of mine, and I always joke with her that I can't stomach one more shot of her clients walking down the beach after they're 90 days sober and everything's great. I've seen that scene 180 times now. Even I’m bored. And they rarely show you what happens to those people on day 91!"
Dr. Drew seemed genuinely shaken by McCready's death when he discussed it on his own show, Lifechangers, on CNN's sister network, HLN. Watch the clip below.
Should Dr. Drew stop practicing altogether? That's a question for experts in the field. Should he stop profiteering off of celebrities bent on self-destruction? Absolutely.