Addictainment under fire: 'Celebrity Rehab' a disaster for many, addiction experts blast show

The entire premise of "Celebrity Rehab" is under fire with the recent suicide of country artist Mindy McCready, the fifth cast member death of Dr. Pinsky’s questionable treatment reality series on TV which many professionals deem damaging and more for entertainment purposes than actual treatment.

Mindy McCready, 37, is the fifth person who has appeared on "Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew" to die in the past two years.

The former country star apparently took her own life and killed her dog too on Sunday at her home in Heber Springs, Ark. Authorities say McCready died of a suspected self-inflicted gunshot to the head and an autopsy is planned. She left behind two young sons.

McCready had attempted suicide at least three times since 2005, as she struggled to cope amid a series of tumultuous public events that marked much of her adult life.

Speaking to The Associated Press in 2010, McCready said: "It is a giant whirlwind of chaos all the time...I call my life a beautiful mess and organized chaos. It's just always been like that. My entire life things have been attracted to me and vice versa that turn into chaotic nightmares or I create the chaos myself. I think that's really the life of a celebrity, of a big, huge, giant personality."

Other "Celebrity Rehab" deaths include Joey Kovar, a member of MTV's "Real World: Hollywood" died last August at the age of 29 of "opiate intoxication." Kovar was on the series with McCready on the show's third season in 2010.

Also dead: "Celebrity Rehab" Season 2 cast member Rodney King, dead at 47, his demise an accidental drowning, with alcohol, cocaine, marijuana and PCP found in his system.

Another "Celebrity Rehab" second season star was "Taxi" actor Jeff Conway, who died at age 60 in May 2011 with opiates and other drugs in his system.

Another third season "Rehab" cast member was Alice In Chains bassist Mike Starr, who died at the age of 44 in March 2011, addicted to heroin and other drugs and died of a drug overdose.

As the death toll among former "Celebrity Rehab" cast members grows, the question of whether the show does more harm than good, and if these addicts are truly getting the treatment they need is at the forefront of addiction specialists' minds.

Dr. Drew, who treated the deceased cast members, released a statement after McCready's death to People magazine:

"I am deeply saddened by this awful news. My heart goes out to Mindy's family and children. She is a lovely woman who will be missed by many. Although I have not treated her for a few years, I had reached out to her recently upon hearing about the apparent suicide of her boyfriend and father of her younger children. She was devastated."  

Richard Taite, CEO of Cliffside Malibu Treatment Center (, has a strong opinion about this pattern of failure celebrated on the smallscreen for entertainment.  He also co-authored the best-selling book, "Ending Addiction For Good."

“Mindy McCready’s death is certainly a tragedy and one that was perhaps preventable if she had gotten real treatment,” says Mr. Taite, founder and CEO of the elite Cliffside Malibu addiction residential treatment center.

“Celebrity Rehab is a farce as a foundation for or example of treatment. It is at best info-tainment – a television show that exploits the fragility of individuals who are in desperate need of help. Recovery does not happen in twenty-one days for individuals suffering profoundly from multiple disorders, such as Mindy McCready, and it does not occur under the view of millions of television viewers. One of the main needs any addict has is to develop a sincere, trusting relationship with a therapist and privately uncover the root causes of their addiction. This does not happen in a television show where addicts are part of a ‘cast’ and followed by television cameras 24 hours a day! Those receiving real treatment do not have to seek refuge in a bathroom to get a few minutes to process their feelings alone! Those who suffer from depression, suicidal ideation, and addiction need long-term, private support in a safe, secure environment. It is tragic that Ms. McCready and the four other addicts who have died after being on Celebrity Rehab did not receive that level of care.”

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