"There are times life will rattle your bones and will bend your limbs. So you bend back and shake at the frame of the fame you made, but don't you shake alone"- The Decemberists
As we did our final check-in on the latest round of patients Sunday, I realized I am way more invested in "Celebrity Rehab" than I am in most shows.
Yes, it's reality TV.
Yes, the producers impact the drama unfolding, but this is so much more than that fake Hollywood nonsense. This is a real life struggle unfolding in front of you.
I have been a fan of Dr. Drew since his radio show "Sex Talk" with funny man Adam Corolla. He was the straight guy, yet could easily laugh, and his advice was always dead on. He has a gift of giving out the perfect advice then leading the addict/caller right into the real answer themselves.
I've watched every season. Partly because addiction's reared its ugly head in my life and partly because I have counsellors in my family, so I like to see the ways in which help is extended (whether it is heeded or not).
Does it matter that these patients are celebrities? I am sure it does to some. I like that you see these idolized people baring their humanity. They are just people with families and struggles like all of us.
My favorite part of 'CelebrityRehab' is watching these famous people come on to the show thinking it's just another gig they're being paid to do. Then comes the withdrawal and the reality hits that, hey, this might not be so easy. In one-on-one counseling, they actually get deep & vulnerable. Past traumas emerge. Feelings of shame or guilt they'd rather not face come up and you can see them NOT wanting to face that pain. That is precicely when an addict normally turns to their vice-to numb themselves. Dr. Drew always stresses that you have to face these demons in order to break out of that addiction cycle. (He's awesome.)
Pretend you're famous. Hollywood. Everywhere you go, people tell you how great you are . You believe it. When you're out, you're offerered whatever you want. So you smoke pot. Do a line. No biggie, right? Everybody's doing it. But they keep assisting you on to the next drug, and the next. Suddenly, you need a fix just to get up in the morning. You're only surrounded with 'yes men' so no one tells you the truth & kicks your ass, because that's not what you want to hear. And if you have a past trauma in your life- the spiral down is much, much worse. (I believe this may have been Michael Jackson's problem. No one would tell him, hey, maybe you shouldn't have a 10 year old boy sleep over, or maybe you shouldn't be taking those dangerously high dosages of pharmaceutical drugs.) Anyway...
You really do find yourself invested in the sobriety of these people. I dare you NOT to love Mackenzie Phillips after seeing her season. You cheer for them and are sad when they slip, or, as in this season, when they die. Two past patients died. 2! Two people you watched struggle and rooted for, lost this battle. Mike Starr (bassist for "Alice in Chains") and Jeff Conaway ("Grease" and "Taxi") both died. (I always wondered if singer Amy Winehouse would stick with treatment, and from the autopsy, she was sober. The toll her lifestyle took on her body was too much. Her duet with Tony Bennett was released this week (see it here). We really lost an amazing performer and I am glad to have seen her perform live (and well).
Addiction is classified as a disease, which pisses some people off, as how can drinking or drug use be a disease? Well, ask anyone who went or is going through it, and you'll see. That person they knew is gone. You instead live with the alcohol or drugs which turn this loved one into someone you no longer know. If you have a problem, it's time to seek help. Life is kinda fun. If your loved one has a problem, you can get the help you need at Alanon, because you can't do it alone. Many people sit by silently or are in denial, as it's a damned hard reality to face.
Well, it's time.