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Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew
Format Reality
Starring Dr. Drew Pinsky
Country of origin  United States
Language(s) English
No. of seasons 3
No. of episodes 28 (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Drew Pinsky
John Irwin
Howard Lapides
Damian Sullivan
Brad Kuhlman
Producer(s) Jack Siefert
Lisa Digiovine
Danita Jones
Running time 60 min. (First Episode 90 min.)
Production company(s) Irwin Entertainment, Inc.[1]
Distributor RDF Rights[1]
Original channel VH1
Original run January 10, 2008 – March 4, 2010
Followed by Sober House
Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew
External links Official website

Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew is a VH1 reality television show that premiered on January 10, 2008. The show features several celebrities as they undergo treatment for various drug and alcohol addictions. The celebrities are treated by Dr. Drew Pinsky and his staff, including Bob Forrest.[2] It is filmed at the Pasadena Recovery Center. Pinsky is listed in the show's onscreen credits as the executive producer.


Recurring cast

The following are staff of the Pasadena Recovery Center, where the series is filmed. Casts for individual seasons are seen in sections for those seasons.

  • Dr. Drew Pinsky - MD, Addiction specialist.
  • Shelly Sprague - The Resident Technician who runs the floor.[3] A recovering addict herself,[4] she has also appeared on Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew. She met Pinsky through Bob Forrest, a fellow recovering addict and colleague of Drew's with whom Sprague used to do drugs. She runs a center at Las Encinas Hospital in Pasadena, California.[5]
  • Bob Forrest - Chemical Dependency Program Director at Las Encinas Hospital, who appears during group sessions as a counselor.[6][7]
  • Luisha Zeviar - A Resident Technician who first appears in the second episode of Season 2. Responding to observations that Luisha receives more abuse than Shelly, Pinsky describes her as more staid than Shelly, and says that she invests more in the patients than Shelly does.[8]


According to a December 2009 New York Times article, Drew Pinsky, who was alarmed by tabloid portrayals of addiction as an indulgence of the rich and famous, and a group of independent producers, approached VH1 with a proposal for a reality television series that would authentically depict addiction, as a sort of media intervention.[9]

According to executive producer John Irwin, casting for the first season was the most difficult, as the representatives of the celebrities who had been arrested or had publicized bouts with addiction refused to speak with him and the other producers. The process became easier after the first season aired. Actor Tom Sizemore, for example, who was cast for Season 3, had been sought after since Season 1.[10] Producers have reportedly offered actress Lindsay Lohan six figures to appear on the show.[11] Pinsky, who focuses on the treatment side of the production, is not involved with casting.[12]

A multitude of cameras are employed, which roll twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, during the 21-day treatment cycle. Because some dramatic incidents occur early in the morning when the camera crews are not present, automated cameras are mounted all over the clinic to capture them. The exception to this are the bathrooms, which nonetheless are equipped with microphones to monitor unusual sounds, such as patients attempting to use drugs.[5]

In addition to receiving the free treatment (which would normally be worth approximately $50,000 - $60,000 USD), the patients receive a salary for their appearance on the series, which is prorated, and distributed once a week as an incentive to stay.[5]

Celebrity Rehab has spun off two other shows, Sober House, which shows Rehab alumni going to a sober living facility, which acts as an interim step for recovering addicts between completion of rehab and returning to their old life, and Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew, in which Pinsky and his staff treat celebrities for sex addiction.


While the series has won praise from both former addicts and other addiction specialists, many take issue with Pinsky’s methods. Jeffrey Foote, a clinical psychologist and substance abuse expert, states, "The velvet-glove confrontational stuff Pinsky does is what works for TV, but it’s not what works for patients." The web site for Foote's Center for Motivation and Change uses a clip from Celebrity Rehab to demonstrate poor techniques. Foote adds, "The dramatic confrontations seen on the show are actually more likely to drive less-severe substance abusers, who are by far the majority, away from seeking treatment." Critics also maintain that the patients' needs and the show's needs constitute a conflict of interest, with Dr. John J. Mariani, director of the Substance Treatment and Research Service at Columbia University stating, "The problem here is that Dr. Drew benefits from their participation, which must have some powerful effects on his way of relating to them. He also has a vested interest in the outcome of their treatment being interesting to viewers, which is also not in their best interest. Treatment with conflicts of interest isn’t treatment." Pinsky has responded to this criticism by saying, "The problem with my peers is they don’t understand television. You have to work within the confines of what executives will allow you to put on TV. Otherwise, we’ve not done anything, we’ve not really struggled to change the culture at all." Pinsky also responds to questions about airing the series on a network that broadcasts other reality shows featuring uncritical depictions of sexuality and alcohol use as recurring themes by saying, "The people that need what we have are watching VH1. Not the people watching educational TV, the NPR crowd. You gotta give ’em what they want so you can give ’em what they need."[13]

Defending the practice of paying addicts to attend rehab, producer John Irwin says, "Whatever it takes to get them through the door so they can start treatment—that's the goal."[5] Pinsky offers a similar response, saying, "My whole thing is bait and switch. Whatever motivates them to come in, that’s fine. Then we can get them involved with the process."[13]

Pinsky has also drawn criticism from experts for publicly offering diagnoses of celebrities has never met or personally examined, based on media accounts, and has also drawn the ire of some of those celebrities. Following comments Pinsky made about actor Tom Cruise's belief in Scientology and Lindsay Lohan's drug abuse, Cruise's lawyer compared Pinsky to Joseph Goebbels, and Lohan retorted, "I thought REAL doctors talked to patients in offices behind closed doors."[11] Pinsky, who admits in his 2009 book, The Mirror Effect, that he scored a high 16 on the Narcissism Personality Inventory, and shares several traits with the "closet narcissist", asserts that he was never motivated by fame to become a media figure, but from a desire to educate the public on the medical facts distorted by the media. He has been praised by those he has treated, including Rehab alums Duncan Roy and Andy Dick. Dick, who has made Pinsky his primary care physician, disputes the accusation that Pinsky is motivated by a desire for fame, insisting that Pinsky "really is just this unbelievably caring guy. He really is. He’s almost too caring."[14]

Episode list

Season 1


Cast member Profession
Daniel Baldwin actor (Departed the show in episode four)
Mary Carey porn star and former candidate for California Governor
Joanie "Chyna" Laurer actress and former professional wrestler
Jeff Conaway actor
Jaimee Foxworth former child actress
Brigitte Nielsen actress and former model
Ricco Rodriguez mixed martial arts fighter and former UFC Heavyweight Champion
Jessica Sierra singer and former American Idol contestant
Seth "Shifty Shellshock" Binzer lead singer of rapcore band Crazy Town


Sierra, Binzer, and Carey agreed to enter a transitional sober living home in the last episode of the regular season. All three, as well as Laurer and Foxworth, would eventually relapse; some re-entered treatment. VH1 aired a reunion special following season 1. Although Conaway was able to maintain sobriety from alcohol and cocaine, he continued to abuse analgesics for his back pain. He re-entered treatment in the show's second season. Binzer also ended up in several episodes of the second season, as well as the Sober House spin-off series.

Laurer was hospitalized in December 2008 and was reportedly going to return to rehab.[15]

Nielsen and Rodriguez have reportedly maintained their sobriety. Pinsky has said on numerous occasions that Nielsen has quit drinking and also gave up smoking.[5] Nielsen has also appeared on his radio shows to talk about her sobriety. In 2009, she appeared as a panel speaker to another group at the Pasadena Recovery Center, in which she anticipated the upcoming two-year mark of her sobriety that July, as seen in a third season episode of the series, which aired in February 2010.[16]

Sierra has tested "clean and sober" for a year and a half following a court-ordered year of treatment at the Pasadena Recovery Center,[17] She also appeared with Nielsen in the aforementioned third season episode, marking her 18 months of sobriety.[16]

The status of Baldwin's sobriety is unknown. As of May 2009, Foxworth is reportedly sober and gave birth to a son,[18]

Carey relapsed and returned to porn, starring in and directing a parody film called Celebrity Pornhab with Dr. Screw, a decision Pinsky said saddened him.[19] Regarding her sobriety, Pinsky commented in a January 2010 TV Guide story, "She puts together, like, six weeks at a time of sobriety, then drifts away. We're trying to get her to stay with it once and for all."[5]

Season 2

Season 2 of Celebrity Rehab premiered on October 23, 2008.

Pinsky saw musician Steven Adler as this season's "problem child", describing his behavior as "suicidal", and related that Adler had to be put into a psychiatric hospital for two weeks prior to going into rehab. Jeff Conaway was also a grave concern, according to Pinsky.[12]

Actor and recovering cocaine addict Gary Busey entered the program, claiming to do so not as a patient, but as a mentor to assist others in their recoveries. This was stated in his contract, and confirmed by VH1's official press release about Season 2.[20][21] Pinsky disputes this, however, stating, "I was confused too. But that's not my problem. My problem is that I've got a guy who needs help and I've got to figure out a way to get him into treatment. Gary [ends up having] a really inspirational experience. But it's a good 10 days before he comes around.[12]


Cast member Profession
Steven Adler former Guns N' Roses drummer
Jeff Conaway actor; returning from Season 1 to recover from numerous back surgeries without abusing his medication
Rodney King became a U.S. civil rights figure when videotaped in 1991 being beaten by L.A.P.D. officers
Tawny Kitaen actress and former model
Nikki McKibbin singer and former American Idol contestant
Amber Smith actress and model
Sean Stewart son of singer Rod Stewart.[21]
Gary Busey actor
Seth Binzer singer; returning from Season 1 after Dr. Drew learned of his relapse

On October 1, 2008, rock band Alter Bridge, in conjunction with VH1, released a video for their single "Watch Over You" containing clips from the upcoming season of Celebrity Rehab.


Most of the celebrities (except for Kitaen, Busey and Stewart) agreed to make a transitional move into a sober living home which was filmed for Sober House– although Busey expressed interest in attending sober living as a speaker. Conaway was released early from the center during the final episode of Season 2 after kicking his girlfriend in the ribs during an argument. As soon as Conaway returned to his home, he continued abusing pain killers. During the course of Sober House, Adler, Smith and Binzer relapsed. Adler has made repeated appearances on Loveline talking about his success with sobriety and how his life is drastically different for the better. On September 26, 2009, Kitaen was arrested for drinking and driving.[22] Amber Smith would go on to appear in the spinoff Sex Rehab.

In 2009 Rodney King and Amber Smith appeared as a panel speaker to a group of addicts at the Pasadena Recovery Center, marking 11 months of sobriety for King, and a year and a half of sobriety for Smith.[16] Nikki McKibbin marked a year of sobriety on June 10, 2009.[13]

Season 3

On April 22, 2009, it was announced on the Futon Critic that Celebrity Rehab had been renewed for a third season and that a new spinoff titled Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew was being put into production.[23] Sex Rehab premiered on November 1, 2009. Season 3 of Celebrity Rehab premiered on January 7, 2010.[24]

Patient Heidi Fleiss was shown to be living in solitude in the wilderness of Nevada while caring for 25 parrots.[25] Pinsky did brain scans of her that showed significant frontal lobe dysfunction, which Pinsky theorized was behind her inability to empathize with people, and her affinity for doing so with birds.[10]

Actor Tom Sizemore had been approached to appear in Season 1, but declined. He met with Pinsky about appearing in the second season, sitting in Pinsky's office for two hours, as Pinsky tells it, "sweating and completely high on drugs, talking a million miles an hour, acting like he was going to do it then deciding he didn’t want to." He ultimately decided to appear in Season 3, but did not arrive in the season premiere with the others, forcing Pinsky's colleague Bob Forrest to seek him out. Pinsky adds in the season's fourth episode that he believes Sizemore's girlfriend is also a user, and that their relationship is a threat to his sobriety.[26] Pinsky points to Sizemore's story as emblematic of the difficulty of getting an addict to commit to rehab.[10] Because of the tumultuous prior relationship between patients Sizemore and Fleiss, their consent to both be cast during the same season was obtained prior to filming.[5]

Commenting on Dennis Rodman's detachment from the rehabilitation process, Pinsky said that Rodman was "hyper-focused in some ways, and in others, completely blank," and observed that Rodman didn't comprehend what the other patients were experiencing, or how they they perceived him. Pinsky concluded that Rodman may have Asperger's syndrome, a diagnosis with which a colleague from UCLA Medical Center concurred.[5]

Mackenzie Phillips had accomplished several months of sobriety before checking into the Pasadena Recovery Center.[27]

Joey Kovar, who previously sought treatment for his addiction to cocaine and alcohol during his stint on 2008's The Real World: Hollywood, was spurned to return to rehab for his recurring addiction by the impending birth of his and his girlfriend Nikki's[26] child.[28]

Pinsky commented on Lisa D'Amato by saying, "I would classify her as an addict in denial. This is the only disease you have to convince people they have."[27]

Following her ejection from Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew, Kari Ann Peniche was allowed back to the Pasadena Recovery Center after she called Pinsky and asked for help. Pinsky, who explains in this season's fourth episode that treatment for drug addiction must take place before treatment for sex addiction, revealed that her aggressive behavior during Sex Rehab was derived from drugs she smuggled in a teddy bear, and which were difficult to detect during drug testing because of the medication Peniche took for attention deficit disorder. Irwin says her behavior had changed by her second appearance, though she did punch a camera man at one point.


Cast member Profession
Lisa D'Amato model and reality TV personality[29]
Heidi Fleiss famous American madam[29]
Joey Kovar alumnus of The Real World: Hollywood[29]
Mindy McCready country music singer[29]
Kari Ann Peniche beauty queen and subject of a Playboy pictorial[29]
Mackenzie Phillips actress[29]
Dennis Rodman basketball player[29]
Tom Sizemore actor[30]
Mike Starr former Alice in Chains bass player[29]


Peniche, Starr, Fleiss, Sizemore and Rodman all agreed to attend a sober living facility after treatment,[31] which will be chronicled on the second season of Sober House.[32] Kovar indicated that he would get a sponsor, go to meetings, and go to sober living after his girlfriend moved into their new home. McCready, who cited the need to return to her son, and indicated that she would go to Al-Anon.[31]

Since completing treatment, Pinsky says that D'Amato, who declined sober living, but agreed to go to meetings,[31] "seems pretty good to me. My bet is she'll continue to flirt with using, but will have a deeper understanding now of her behavior."[27]

Phillips and McCready appeared with Pinsky in a segment on women and addiction on the March 17, 2010 episode of The View.



  1. ^ a b c Parker, Robin (5 October 2007). "RDF Rights takes on VH1's Pick Up.". Broadcast: 12. Retrieved 6 March 2010. 
  2. ^ "Online Videos From 'Celebrity Rehab' Depict Stars Using Drugs". Fox News. November 26, 2007.,2933,312931,00.html. Retrieved January 13, 2010. 
  3. ^ She describes her job thus in the third season premiere.
  4. ^ She explains her former addiction to heroin and crack cocaine to Heidi Fleiss in the third season premiere, and mentions her alcoholism to the group in the following episode.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Rochlin, Margy (February 1, 2010), "Addicted to Rehab", TV Guide: 34-35 
  6. ^ Staff - Las Encinas Hospital
  7. ^ Pinsky refers to Forrest as his Head Counselor in the second season premiere of Sober House.
  8. ^ "Examining Rehab 2 With Dr. Drew - Episode 2", Accessed March 5, 2010
  9. ^ Norris, Chris. "Hitting Bottom"; The New York Times, December 30, 2009, Page 2 of 6
  10. ^ a b c Margy Rochlin (February 1, 2010). "Addicted to Rehab". TV Guide Online. Retrieved January 30, 2010. 
  11. ^ a b Norris; 2009; Page 6 of 6
  12. ^ a b c Rochlin, Margy (November 3, 2008), "Paging Dr. Drew", TV Guide: 25 
  13. ^ a b c Norris. 2009; Page 4 of 6
  14. ^ Norris, 2009; Page 5 of 6
  15. ^ "Chyna Doll hospitalized". Boston Herald. December 29, 2008. Retrieved January 13, 2010. 
  16. ^ a b c Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew Episode 3.6 ("Triggers") VH1; February 11, 2010
  17. ^ Whitney English and Natalie Finn (April 29, 2009). "Ex-Idol Singer Jessica Sierra: "Dr. Drew Saved My Life"". E! Online. Retrieved January 13, 2010. 
  18. ^ Kate Hogan (May 29, 2009). "It's a Boy for Family Matters Star Jaimee Foxworth". People magazine.,,20282175,00.html. Retrieved January 13, 2010. 
  19. ^ "Dr. Drew Gets Screwed in 'Celebrity Pornhab'". TMZ. May 18, 2009. Retrieved January 13, 2010. 
  20. ^ TV Guide; June 23, 2008; Page 8
  21. ^ a b "Celebs Check Into Rehab 2 With Dr. Drew". VH1. June, 10 2008. Retrieved January 13, 2010. 
  22. ^ "Actress Tawny Kitaen arrested in Calif. for DUI". Associated Press. 2009-09-26. 
  23. ^ "VH1 Celebrates new hit series milestone ... ordering new projects from Dr. Drew Pinsky...". April 22, 2009. Retrieved 2010-03-11. 
  24. ^ "VH1 announces many new premiere dates". VH1. September 3, 2009. Retrieved January 13, 2010. 
  25. ^ Ex-Hollywood madam plans brothel for women Associated Press, July 2, 2007. Retrieved 2010-03-11.
  26. ^ a b "New Patients" episode Celebrity Rehab Episode 3.4 at Retrieved 2010-03-11.
  27. ^ a b c Ratledge, Ingela. "Did Lisa D'Amato really belong on Celebrity Rehab?" TV Guide; March 15, 2010, Page 18
  28. ^ Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew; third season premiere ("Intake"); VH1; January 7, 2010
  29. ^ a b c d e f g h Andy Dehnart (May 28, 2009). "Dennis Rodman, Heidi Fleiss, Mackenzie Phillips, Joey Kovar, Lisa D’Amato cast on Celebrity Rehab 3". Reality Blurred. Retrieved January 13, 2010. 
  30. ^ "Tom Sizemore Joins Celebrity Rehab 3 Cast". VH1. June 1, 2009. Retrieved January 13, 2010. 
  31. ^ a b c Video of Celebrity Rehab Episode 3.9 ("Graduation") at
  32. ^ "Sober House 2 With Dr. Drew - Peep the Cast", February 25, 2010

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