Former ‘Top Model’ Jael Strauss Says Dr. Phil Exploited Her Meth Addiction for Ratings

By Dorri Olds 12/23/16

The former model is now three years sober and works at a rehab center. 

Jael Strauss with Dr. Phil
Photo via Dr. Phil/YouTube

Last month, Dr. Phil McGraw was accused of exploiting actress Shelley Duvall, who appeared as a guest on The Dr. Phil Show. One month later, he is being accused of exploitation again. This time by Jael Strauss, a former contestant on Tyra Banks’ 2007 season of America’s Next Top Model.

Strauss appeared on Dr. Phil’s show in 2012. At the time, despite having reached a level of celebrity from Banks’ show, Strauss had spiraled into a debilitating addiction to methamphetamine and her appearance on his show was part of an intervention.

Last week, TooFab posted a video of an interview with Strauss in which she opened up to Brian Particelli about feeling exploited during her appearance on The Dr. Phil Show.

Strauss said, “First of all, I was interventioned, meaning I did not have a choice. I do feel that The Dr. Phil Show exploited me and has done that to other people and their addictions.”

But she also said, “I have an inner conflict, because I know that my story has helped so many people. The number one important thing in my life is to help other people, so I wouldn’t change that, but it was not voluntary.”

When she had appeared on Dr. Phil’s program, her skin looked ravaged by the meth addiction, and her behavior was fiery and erratic.

Now 32 and living in Austin, Texas, Strauss works at a rehab center. She has been sober for over three years. “I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my entire life,” she said. “This journey was very unexpected. I’ve been sober for three years and three months now. Not a drink, not a pill, not a joint, not a line, nothing. It’s really amazing. It’s a huge miracle to still be breathing after what I was up to and I’m so grateful. Whatever path and twists and turns I had to take to get here, I don’t regret any of them.”

Particelli asked if anyone had reached out to her when she was struggling. Strauss named Renee Alway, another member of the 2007 Top Model cast. Alway was arrested in 2013 for felony burglary, possession of a firearm and vehicle theft, and is currently serving a 12-year prison sentence.

Strauss said Alway “was the first person that called me. This was before she was incarcerated and went through all that. And she alluded to the fact that she really sympathized with my situation and she understood more than I knew.”

Then Strauss smiled and said, “We were both lesbians, we were both closeted and we both had drug problems. After the show we spent some time together and got a real relationship. I’ve been in contact with her sister, as well as her since she’s been incarcerated. We just support each other.”

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Dorri Olds is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in many publications including The New York Times, Marie Claire, Woman’s Day and several book anthologies. Find Dorri on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.