On tonight premiere of Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew, Mr. Pinsky himself (I have demoted him from the doctor title, and you will see why in just a moment) voice-overed in his poorly read, arrogantly omnipotent sort of way that sex rehab is much more intense than "regular" addiction rehab because the participants have to explore much deeper inside themselves to figure out the cause of their addiction. Well, I will offer you this disclaimer right now: I am not a doctor. I have no medical training; I stopped taking science courses with AP Psychology junior year of high school (though I did score a 4 on that exam!). But even I know enough to call bullshit on that statement.
Addiction is addiction. If you really want to get sober for real-- regardless of if you're addicted to drugs, alcohol, sex, television...whatever-- you have to be willing to dig into yourself to find and try to heal from the factors that led you to the pills, the bottle, the random hook-ups, the screen...whatever. No one is going to stay sober for long without doing that. As Dr. Drew likes to point out: "This is work." But is it harder work to "detox" from sex than from, per se, heroin? No, it is not. You still have to cut old, bad influences out of your life. You still have to stay away from certain people and places and situations. You still have a little nagging voice in your head wondering how you're going to get to the next moment. And you still have to turn inward for answers and salvation to keep you healthy in sane, instead of turning to an external crutch. And Dr. Drew would probably know that if he had once been in recovery.
Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew is not yet as compelling as Celebrity Rehab, perhaps because only one cast member (Amber Smith, who coincidentally was on both shows) was recognizable to me. In the first hour that has so far aired, we were briefly introduced to everyone else, including James Lovett who is the typical adrenaline junkie type addict. Seeing him makes it easy to understand how he got into pro surfing as a profession: he has so much frenetic energy that he has to be running and jumping on a treadmill or skateboarding around the back patio to substitute for the fact that he isn't allowed to engage in sexual activity when in the house. However, I fear that because all of the people are there for the same addiction, albeit for very different reasons, the group sessions may get old kind of fast.
Porn star Penny Flame (nee Jennifer Petcham) is desensitized to sex due to her profession and is never willing to let anyone be romantic with her; Duncan Roy found his penchant for the "straight boy" while in prison, where he admits "no one is really straight," and he spends his time prowling the internet for pornography because even he knows that prowling for straight boys in the real world might lead to a situation that leads him back to prison; and Kendra Jade Rossi has cheated on everyone she's ever been with, but she's married now and wants to put an end to her philandering ways.
Kari Anne Peniche, a former Miss Teen USA who lost her crown for posing in Playboy, is the typical "I'm not ready to give up my addiction yet" addict who has you wondering from minute one why she is even on the show. She is the Jeff Conway, if you will, who is always threatening to leave. However, her story is so compelling, she may be the one you root for the most because she seems the most troubled... You just root for her to actually leave that recovery center and head straight to one where there are no cameras and there is no self-important celebrity "doctor." She is so emotionally detached from her past traumas and her current unhealthy behavior that she needs someone who is going to really work with her-- perhaps even one on one-- rather than just espouse his own judgmental theories.
Celebrity Rehab worked because it had counselors like Shelly who has actually been through what the patients are currently experiencing and survived. She can speak from experience and that has earned her the right to offer advice and wisdom. Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew has a similar nurse, but so far Drew hasn't let her say much, so it still remains to be seen whether or not she will be an asset or just an unnecessary accessory for the "doc."
Celebrity Rehab worked because everyone hit rock bottom before they arrived, so their egos had been checked at the door. Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew doesn't seem to be planning to make mention that in order to find true intimacy (which all of these patients lack), you have to be able to set your ego aside from time to time.
I'll continue to watch this show, mostly because this first episode got me fired up. Enough to come here and blog a bit-- even if just about the fact that I think Dr. Drew is going the way of Dr. Phil (and as of this morning's Good Day LA where he talked about "cuddling hormones," Dr. Oz)! This one episode has me thinking about these issues again, which is enough to inspire me to pull out my last draft of "Shades of Gray" to begin work again. Would I get better material if the newest installment of Celebrity Rehab were on air instead? Sure, but after Mackenzie Phillips' book revelations, it doesn't appear VH1 is so eager to oblige in that...