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'Celebrity Rehab' and other TV addiction shows walk the line between treatment and performance

Rehab What happens when you put addicted, attention-seeking actors and reality TV stars in front of cameras and tell them you're going to film their rehab?

"We all knew we were on TV," said Jeff Conaway, who appeared in the first two seasons of VH1's "Celebrity Rehab."

"I think everybody, like myself, made choices. Sometimes we would go a little bit further than maybe we normally would. You can't help it. There are cameras sitting in front of your face, and we're paid to be dramatic. That's what we do."

Some professionals in the rehab field worry that programs about addiction — a genre that also includes the HBO series "Addiction" and A&E's popular "Intervention," now in its 10th season — are exploiting patients in their most vulnerable moments.

In this season's first episode of "Celebrity Rehab," former supermodel Janice Dickinson, who had been weaned off of benzodiazepines, revealed to a hospital staff member she was contemplating going to the bathroom to hang herself. The moment was teased endlessly in previews leading to the premiere.

It's exactly the kind of moment that Dr. David Sack, the chief executive of Malibu's Promises Treatment Center, worries will later haunt them. "It becomes a performance — not treatment."

Read the Sunday Calendar feature about "Celebrity Rehab" and "Intervention" here.

Photo: Rachel Uchitel and Leif Garrett in "Celebrity Rehab." Credit: Kevin Winter/VH1.


Comments () | Archives (5)

I love this show. I am no celebrity, but recognize addiction in any shape or form. I guess it's a "been there-done that" growing up in a family of alcohol that leads to drug use amongst my siblings. I can look through the glass of "celebrity" and can really feel for these addicts.

I sincerely hope for: Eric, Jason, Rachel and Janice and the others, but they got to do it for themselves!

I came out the other side of the "looking glass" and am a survivor, can't say that about most people I know.

Well done A & E

A&E has Intervention. The show Kate is talking about,Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, is on VH1

as dr drew well knows, addiction is a symptom of the genetic disease, hypoism, that causes the symptom of addictions.
exploiting ppl with a disease is sick, period.

i love celebrity rehab! they were messes before they signed up so it can only help them in the long run.

There is no way someone can deal with the underlying issues driving the addiction to the point of feeling relief so real rehabilitation can occur in those settings. While the show intervention is a useful tool to help educate people on how interventions work, the treatment offered with celebrity rehab is very unsuccesful which is exhibited on the show.


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