Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew” has certainly had plenty of detractors throughout its run. The deaths this year of “Celebrity Rehab” alumni Jeff Conaway and Mike Starr didn’t help. And now, with season five of the popular VH 1 show just launched, Forbes’ Kiri Blakeley calls the show the place “celebrities go to die” and questions whether there’s been even one instance of a “Celebrity Rehab” star having a successful recovery and career comeback.
“Yes, I would say there have been those who’ve been successful both in their careers and in staying sober,” replies the show’s Sherry Gaba. “Mackenzie Phillips wrote a book. Janice Dickinson is still sober. Steven Adler recorded in-between rehabs and wrote a book.” (But — ouch — Adler is now back on the show.)
Gaba, a psychotherapist and life coach who has worked at several well-known rehab centers (populated by the famed), in addition to her work with Dr. Drew, points out that the well-known folk on “Celebrity Rehab” all “leave with a discharge plan. The seed is planted, the therapists are lined up, the sober living quarters are recommended. But if they don’t follow through, well, that happens every day across the country to people dealing with addictions, regardless of their status, their economic situation, their age or color. It’s due to the nature of the illness.”
Gaba feels that the team keeps improving. “As the years have gone on, I think the team has learned what is needed. There is a lot more therapy going on,” she says. “This season we brought a couple more therapists, and brought in more recovery coaching.” That’s where her book, “The Law of Sobriety” comes in, as Gaba notes she became increasingly aware that newly-sober clients needed to be able to plot and look forward to their next steps in life.
“My book is a manifestation of the show,” she says.
This season’s group ranges from the notorious — Amy Fisher, Michael Lohan — to Sean Young. Blakeley wrote that she’s hoping the recovery and career comeback can work out for Young, the show’s first bona-fide movie star.
As far as complaints about exploitation of the clients ,Gaba says, “These people made a choice to be on the show. They want to do it, and most of them hope to make a difference. When Mackenzie Phillips went out and talked about the incest in her past, and Amber Smith, the super model, talked about all the stuff she’d been through — it made it easier for a lot of people to talk about experiences in their own lives and get help.
“I, too, feel very blessed and proud to be helping people.”