Dr. Drew Defends Celeb Rehab After Five Deaths

By McCarton Ackerman 02/20/13

Critics have attacked the doc and even compared him to "death doctor" Kevorkian.

Dr. Drew says he is no Dr. Death. Photo via

Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew is no longer on the air, but Dr. Drew Pinsky is now under fire after country singer Mindy McCready's suicide last Sunday made her the fifth of the show's former cast members to pass away. '80s pop star Richard Marx even compared the addiction specialist to notorious "death doctor" Jack Kevorkian. "I think 'Dr' Drew Pinsky should change his name to Kevorkian. Same result,' Marx tweeted yesterday. He deleted the tweet several hours later, writing: 'I went too far with the Kevorkian crack. It is, however, my opinion that what Dr. D does is exploitation and his TV track record is not good." Pinsky addressed McCready's suicide and the show's supposed "curse" last night on CNN, where he denied that the show was directly responsible for any of the cast member deaths. "One of my hopes was, in bringing Celebrity Rehab out, was to teach people how dangerous addiction was," said Pinsky. "If I was doing a show on cancer there would not be much surprise when my cancer patient died. In fact, we'd celebrate a few years of good quality life. People don't understand that addiction has virtually the same prognosis."

However, the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA) lists several key principles for a successful recovery that Celebrity Rehab failed to implement, namely that "Remaining in treatment for an adequate period of time is critical." Many have also accused Dr. Drew of succumbing to the same "fame addiction" that he has claimed often contributes to celebrity substance abuse. Whether or not the show played a contributing factor in the deaths, chemical dependency counselor and Celebrity Rehab mentor Bob Forrest said that Marx's outburst was unhelpful, and attacking Dr. Drew only distracts from the real issues at hand. "Regardless of your feelings about how we do it with the TV show, calling Dr. Drew 'Dr. Kevorkian,' what kind of dialogue is that?" he said. "It's a good headline. We're going through a growth spurt in terms of who we are as a country. I really feel there's something going on in America beyond Mindy McCready's death."

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.