Dr. Drew Pinsky said Jeff Conaway died from respiratory failure caused by not treating his pneumonia because he was too intoxicated by prescription drugs to realize how sick he was. By the time he got he got to a hospital, he was too sick for doctors to help him.
One question has been brought to light in response to Conaway's death: Does Dr. Drew Pinsky's Celebrity Rehab show help or hurt its patients?
You probably know the show. Famous, or used-to-be-famous, celebrities go to the Pasadena Recovery Center where they try to fight their demons and recover from whatever their addiction is. Sometimes it's ilicit drugs, sometimes it's alcohol or prescription pain medication. The ever-helpful Dr Drew and his team of angels treat the group of barely recognizable celebrities while they attempt to detox and recover in front of cameras.
We are treated to the often hard to watch scenes of people going through withdrawal, having difficulty with basic functions such as using a bathroom, fighting with family members, and generally going through the agony of trying to kick a drug habit. Since they are celebrities, they do show some behavior often associated with people who are used to getting what they want. We see them having temper tantrums over not being able to use their cell phones, demanding to see Dr. Drew at odd hours and climbing on rooftops to do drugs. We wonder if some of the behavior is due to the cameras. We also wonder if it's ethical to have people going through this painful rehabilitation in front of cameras.
And then there are the relapses. It seems as if few people actually get any better. Jeff Conaway died as a result of a relapse. Rehab alumnus Jason Davis was arrested for posession of a controlled substance the night after Celebrity Rehab 4 Reunion aired. Mike Star of Alice in Chains died with the cause of his death believed to be drug related. Leif Garrett claims the producers encouraged him to relapse for "dramatic purposes." Steven Tyler states the program is unethical.
Dr. Drew Pinsky says his treatment results are better than the national average. Dr Drew reports Jeff Conaway was on the road to recovery again. Dr David Sack, CEO of the rehab Promises in Malibu said it is inappropriate for celebrities dealing with severe substance abuse problems to do it for a TV show. He said, "The show exploits people who need intensive treatment by putting the 'drama' of television ahead of their medical needs. Treatment for addiction requires a safe, secure and private setting which cannot be provided on this show. By pretending to provide treatment, the show endangers severely addicted clients, whose judgment and decision-making are grossly impaired, in the service of creating entertainment."
Dr. Drew would more certainly object to the "pretending to provide treatment" statement, but Dr Sack brings up important points. Is treating chemical dependency on TV ethical?
(Photo Source: Fox News)