Well, at least you know they’re not faking it. Of all reality TV shows, VH1’s Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew is the most true to the often dubious claim of its category. These people really do need help. And when they don’t get it, or enough of it, they sometimes die. Five of them so far, with the deeply troubled singer Mindy McCready checking out earlier this week. Drew has been called on to defend his practice and his show–and he sadly if easily explains that the patients are beyond his control. In fact, most of the deaths have occurred after the celebrity has left the show (and his care)–probably not a coincidence.
It’s important to note that no one roots for the relapse, fascinated as we may be by an addict’s obstacles. Even a jaded observer knows that the relapse ultimately goes against the tried and true recipe for good television, which is to deliver inspirational triumph against adversity. Just ask Oprah. Or the cops who solve the case every night. According to Caron, a leading drug and alcohol treatment facility in Pennsylvania, “Relapse rates for addictive diseases usually are in the range of 50% to 90%; however, these rates vary by definition of relapse, severity of addiction, which drug of addiction, length of treatment, and elapsed time from treatment discharge to assessment, as well as other factors.” That’s reality.