Former guests on Dr. Phil are accusing the show of providing addicts with the substances they crave to boost ratings. A new investigative report from The Boston Globe and STAT allege that audiences aren’t getting the full story about the “treatments” that Dr. Phil McGraw claims to provide. Did the show provide drugs and alcohol to some guests backstage in addition to the folksy wisdom they get in front of the cameras?
The Hollywood Gossip is reporting that Todd Herzog, who won Survivor: China in 2008, claims someone left a bottle of Smirnoff Vodka in his dressing room before his 2013 appearance on the show. Herzog was struggling with alcoholism and appeared on the show to get some help. He claims he was not intoxicated when he arrived at the studio in Los Angeles, but when he found the bottle of vodka, he drank it all. Then, someone handed him a Xanax, telling him it would “calm his nerves.”
— Jo-Ann Murphy (@joannleahmurphy) December 29, 2017
Herzog ended up so intoxicated at the time of taping that people had to literally carry him out to his chair. You would think that even if Herzog did show up drunk, producers would want to help him sober up before his appearance on the show. But, instead, it seems they encouraged him to be as intoxicated as possible.
Another disturbing allegation in the report was that a show staff member directed a guest to an open-air drug market to find heroin.
The report goes on to say that many guests go without medical help as they face withdrawal from their drug of choice.
A representative for the Dr. Phil show, Martin Greenberg, denied the accusations in the report, calling them “absolutely, unequivocally untrue.” He says they don’t provide alcohol or drugs to their guests and the Herzog incident may be the actions of a rogue producer who made bad choices.
But, McGraw’s own staff have made allegations in the past about the show’s treatment of guests and employees. Last year, former segment producer Leah Rothman filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court accusing the host of false imprisonment for trapping employees in a room to threaten them about leaks to the media.
She also claimed that several guests have claimed the show ruined their lives, with one person attempting suicide after their appearance.
According to The Daily Beast, Jeff Sugar, an assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at USC, said that this is inexcusable exploitation.
“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.
Dr. Phil airs daily, McGraw has denied the claims.