The “Dr. Phil” show is accused of providing drugs and alcohol to addict guests, according to a report from STAT and the Boston Globe.
Former “Survivor” winner Todd Herzog said when he got to “Dr. Phil’s” studio, he was given a bottle of Smirnoff and some Xanax pills to “calm his nerves,” the report said.
Herzog said that when he got up from his chair, he had to be physically removed because he was so intoxicated.
Other “Dr. Phil” guests conveyed similar stories to the publication.
One unidentified woman claimed that a staff member told her to buy heroin on the black market for her detoxing niece.
“You know, I get that it’s a television show and that they want to show the pain that I’m in,” Herzog told STAT. “However, what would have happened if I died there? You know, that’s horrifying.”
The combination of Xanax and alcohol can be fatal, say health experts.
“The combined sedation from these two addictive substances can lead to life-threatening respiratory depression and coma,” says Drugabuse.com.
“The important thing here, this isn’t a TV drama,” Dr. Maureen Boyle, the chief scientific officer for the Addiction Policy Forum, told STAT. “This is someone’s life.”
“It’s a callous and inexcusable exploitation,” Jeff Sugar, who is an assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at the University of Southern California, told STAT and the Globe. “These people are barely hanging on. It’s like if one of them was drowning and approaching a lifeboat, and instead of throwing them an inflatable doughnut, you throw them an anchor,” he said.
But Martin Greenberg, who is a psychologist and the director of professional affairs for “Dr. Phil,” denied the claims.
He said they’re “absolutely, unequivocally untrue.”
“Addicts are notorious for lying, deflecting and trivializing. But, if they are at risk when they arrive, then they were at risk before they arrived,” Greenberg said in a statement. “The only change is they are one step closer to getting help, typically help they could not have even come close to affording.”
Herzog was also “medically supervised the entire time he was involved with tapings of ‘Dr. Phil,’” people from the show told STAT. A nurse-practitioner flew with him to Los Angeles, and a nurse sat with him during the night. A medical professional who “happened to be in LA at the time” also assisted him, they said.
And Greenberg added: “We mean 100% of guests agreeing to treatment. It does not mean that a guest is being monitored 100% of the time.”
He said that “substance abusers adopt very clever means” to get alcohol or drugs, and “we cannot control what we cannot control.”
Herzog appeared on the “Dr. Phil” show four times in total.