The New Face of Celebrity Rehab? - Page 3

By Ruth Fowler 06/30/11

Dr. Drew's rumored replacement is a Harvard-educated shrink who complains he isn't being paid enough by VH1, admits his colleagues are appalled by his turn on reality TV and thinks that Michael Lohan is a pretty good dad.

Dr. John: Sharp enough to Fill Drew's Shoes? Photo via

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Who asked you that?

[Laughs] I don’t know if I should say, I don’t want to embarrass her...

What else did she ask?!

You know, asking me what I would do if I were her boyfriend, asking me if I was married, did I have have all that happen when the cameras are on, when I’m very prone to blushing anyway...really, it was a very...odd moment for me."I think there are two kinds of viewers: those that watch and enjoy the fall more, and those that watch and enjoy the finding-their-way-back-up more."

How did you respond?

I said, “Look I can’t do anything which is medically wrong, or potentially harmful”—especially with the cameras rolling!’ I mean—what are you thinking? What are you doing to me?!

What do your daughters think of your new TV career?

The oldest one is going be a doctor as well—she’s interested in being a surgeon, she’s very East Coasty. So she thinks L.A. is a little out there; she’s not sure what to make of it. It’s a little too—light. But she likes that I’m educating the public and I’m talking about important things—so I haven’t embarrassed her too much. The younger one is interested in marketing and she’s interning at a PR company in New York. She, of course,is thrilled. She emailed me a while back and said, “Dad, are you famous?” I said, “No, sweetie, I don’t really think so, but it’s fun to put the good word out there.” She’s getting all her friends together to watch the show.

What else can we expect to see this season on the show?

Well, Sean Young was really concerned about codependency—she was trying to figure out how much her drinking was a problem, and how much her husband’s drinking was a problem. She’s still wrestling through that question. Steven Adler had obviously been on the show before, and his primary concern was trying to quit marijuana because he’d already beaten heroin before, which was huge. He quit cold turkey when he came in, and he had a hard time with that. He was irritable, suffered—went on the attack a little bit, and made some difficulties for everyone—but then he got a lot of feedback from everyone around him and seemed to take that in. He left feeling pretty proud of himself. We haven’t seen a lot of him since, so we don’t know if his sobriety stuck. I’m not sure how fully committed he was to saying goodbye to marijuana forever. I mean, with the help of the retrospect-o-scope, you can wonder, “Wow, the guy relapsed right away, did he really intend to stay clean?” But he seemed to really care about it on the show, and was really connected to Dr Drew, Bob and Shelly.

What about Jeremy Jackson? He seems to like his supplements.

Jeremy Jackson talked a lot about his experiences being a kid on Baywatch and how it wasn’t so easy being this cute, young actor with all these grown ups and all the vices of LA. He came in getting off of steroids, a little lost about how to make sense of what was important and what wasn’t. He was able to go from being disorganized to being really focused—he really has his priorities straight. He’s got a whole career ahead of him and he’s in great shape. We found out a little more about him than even he originally knew.

How did Bai Ling fare? In the first episode she seemed incredibly...crazy. 

Bai Ling came in to deal with the problems that drinking caused her in her life. She was very embarrassed about putting herself in compromising positions because of alcohol—you know, out and about, being photographed. And she has an amazing story to tell about her life. She was really unstable when she came in and stabilized dramatically. Meds were involved. It wasn’t easy to try and figure out what was going on with her but she followed up very valiantly with her aftercare.

America sure loves a redemption story.

Falling and find a way back up is very American. I think there are two kinds of viewers: those that watch and enjoy the fall more, and those that watch and enjoy the finding-their-way-back-up more. Hopefully we get the “finding their way back up” viewers, but I don’t know. I was talking to a patient on the phone the other day, and she was saying, “Oh everybody’s so happy except for me” and I said, “That’s ridiculous—life is a struggle for everyone.” She said, “Well, your life’s perfect—you’re going be on TV.” And I thought, I gave up a lot of time for that show, I don’t think they paid me very well, I could have been doing other things—like seeing my patients or being a good Harvard doctor. There are some colleagues who might look askance at the fact I’ve been on reality TV while others might congratulate me for taking that risk, or come find me because they see me doing good work but I don’t know how it’s going to break. It’s a risk. I was trying to make the point to her that it’s not like everything is so wonderful—you try to make the best with the choices you’ve made. I don’t think I’ve ever been completely happy, but at least I’m balanced, and I try to feel fortunate for that.

Ruth Fowler has written for The Village VoiceThe GuardianThe Huffington PostThe New York Post and The Observer. Her memoir, No Man's Land, which documented her pre-sobriety experiences as a stripper in Manhattan, was published by Viking in 2008. She also wrote about why doctors can't deal with addicted patients and nursing your way back to health, among many other topics.

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Ruth Fowler is an ex-stripper, Cambridge-grad and writer. Find Ruth on LinkedIn and Twitter.