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'Celebrity Rehab' reflections

Several people told me I should check out VH1's Celebrity Rehab because it was so much more real than so much of the made-up and mostly scripted dreck out there.

I was putting it off, but I finally did, and it is tough, tough to watch, but it really does give a visceral look at what it's like to wrestle with addiction.

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I think it's probably a lot harder to watch if you know someone who has been through rehab and it hasn't worked for him or her, but at the same time, it seems to be a window into what rehab is really like. The patients sleep on twin beds, often sharing rooms; their stuff is searched; they are required to follow the rules; they are not being coddled.

Of the people featured on the show (I won't go into whether they should be classified as celebrities), the person in the most dire of straits is former Taxi star Jeff Conaway. If you saw him on Celebrity Fit Club, you already knew he had some issues, but he's gotten much worse. He came into the program in the midst of a severe detox. He gets wheeled around in a wheelchair, he moans and groans and screams in agony regularly, and he's an emotional disaster. He's talked about not wanting to quit using and not wanting to live and wanting to get out of rehab, and it's really painful to watch. (Speaking of which, you can watch Daniel Baldwin confront Jeff in a therapy session in the video clip above.)

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Others are in better places physically, but emotionally, they are tenuous, too. Witness onetime American Idol contestant Jessica Sierra, who has major mother issues but is trying to work them out in the therapy sessions. This is also tough to watch since we know from news coverage that she has relapsed since filming ended.

Mostly, what I have gotten out of it is that Dr. Drew needs to be cloned. He handles everyone's issues with sensitivity and insight. (Think about how, say, a Dr. Phil would be in this situation. Not pretty.) Thanks to Drew, each week, I keep coming back to the show, hoping for the best for everyone, even when I know that some of them are not doing too well.

Have you been watching? What do think about Celebrity Rehab?


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