from New York Press
Haim On You, Dr. Drew
Posted By: Tony O’Neill
They say there are certain inevitabilities in life. As the old cliché goes taxes and death are two of them, and here’s another: As soon as a celebrity dies of a drug overdose, Dr. Drew Pinsky will appear on my television screen before the body has even had time to cool, trying to sell whatever reality show crap he’s hustling this week.
Corey Haim died this morning of an overdose. If Dr Drew hasn’t already booked himself on The View before I am even done typing this, I’m taking bets on how long it is before he appears, like a grave robber relieving the corpse of gold teeth, to give his usual sales pitch, all dressed up as a faux-concerned “Although Corey Haim wasn’t a patient of mine, blah blah blah” speech. I have many problems with Dr. Drew. The first is that he is rather indiscriminate about who he decides is an addict. Anybody who has ever smoked pot, drank booze or even had sex is apparently an addict, so long as they are desperate enough to debase themselves on one of his reality shows. This season on Celebrity Rehab, as well as having real addicts like Mike Starr from Alice in Chains, and Tom Sizemore, we also had people like Kari Ann Peniche (best known for, uh, being in Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew) who was there because she knew how to play the role of the reality show villain really well, and Lisa D’Amato who was apparently a contestant on America’s Next Top Model, who liked to have a drink now and then. She wasn’t as hilariously pouty or dramatic as Ms. Peniche, so I guess they needed D’Amato to make up numbers.
This dearth of actual addicts is not just because it’s season three and Drew is running out of fresh meat. In season one he had Jaimee Foxworth from Family Matters, in rehab supposedly because she was “addicted” to marijuana. (Her appearance on this reality show was nothing to do with her porno career tanking, I’ll bet.) When she came in Drew warned her—with a straight face, no less—that she might expect some “heroin-like” withdrawal effects when she stopped smoking. Which might have played in the 1930s when all most people knew about pot came from the insane fantasies of Harry J. Anslinger and movies like Reefer Madness, but in 2010 a statement like that just serves to totally undermine whatever credibility the doctor has. Remember this is a man who appeared in Wild Hogs with Tim Allen, so he doesn’t have a whole lot to start off with.
But no, instead of getting into all of that—which is a whole article in and of itself—lets just sit back in wonder at the shamelessness of a man who thinks that news of another untimely celebrity death is the perfect opportunity to boost his ratings. If anyone has actually gone though rehab (full disclosure: I have, for a monstrous heroin/crack/meth rampage which took up most of my late teens and twenties) they will know that the rehab in Celebrity Rehab bears no more resemblance to a real rehab than the set of Rock of Love: Charm School did to a Swedish finishing school for young ladies. Instead what we see on Celebrity Rehab is more like a drug den for people whose addiction is to being on TV. And Dr. Drew, for all of his empathetic looks, nods and pseudo-wisdom on the subject of addiction is not the dispassionate clinician he likes to portray, but the instead the dealer, doling out another hit of public exposure and kinda-sorta fame to his jonseing clients.
I would love to see what Dr Drew thinks of prohibition itself, and whether he thinks that lives could be saved be decriminalizing drug use and moving to a more progressive position on the whole matter. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that prescribing heroin to heroin addicts leads to much better success rates than either methadone or prison, and that criminalizing a huge segment of our population for smoking an herb as benign as marijuana is costly, counterproductive and ineffective. But just like the drug cartels and the politicians, the Dr. Drews of this world need the status quo to be preserved. After all, in a post-prohibition society Dr. Drew couldn’t build his empire by pathologizing and exploiting drug users. Maybe then he could get back to what he was best at: sitting around with Adam Corolla and telling us whether we really can catch crabs from toilet seats.
Tony O’Neill is the author of the novels Down and Out in Murder Mile and the forthcoming Sick City.
[ click to read at NYPress.com ]