Reporters with The Boston Globe are investigating shocking claims that television psychologist Dr. Phil and his production team expose addicted guests to alcohol and drugs in order to “play up” their problems for ratings.
In their newsmagazine, STAT, senior Globe writer David Armstrong says that former guests of the daytime talk show allege that producers gave them drugs and alcohol to make them appear more unstable during their television interviews, and that workers on the show provided no medical assistance to guests who might detox during their short stays in L.A.
The stories are downright shocking, and come from a variety of sources, including a reality television winner-turned-alcoholic who says that Dr. Phil’s producers plied him with vodka and Xanax in the green room, to a family trying to save their pregnant daughter from a vicious heroin addiction, who allege producers led them to Skid Row to buy drugs when their daughter began to detox.
Dr. Phil’s producers deny the claims, saying first that guests are responsible for their own medical management, and then that treatment providers are on hand to assist guests in trouble, and finally, through attorneys, that medical personnel monitor guests “100% of the time.”
But, Armstrong found, most of the medical professionals the show claims to use aren’t licensed in California, where Dr. Phil tapes, but instead in places like Texas. That means that while they might be on the show, they aren’t allowed to offer any direct help to potential patients. One of Dr. Phil’s closely aligned treatment facilities, a group called “Origins,” provides a nurse, but only to accompany willing guests from California to the center’s facility.
Two of the people interviewed for the report even told an opposite story: that far from helping their family members handle detox by providing medical treatment, Dr. Phil staffers actually accompanied the families to Skid Row in L.A., in search of drugs like heroin.
The allegations are shocking and, if they prove true, horrifyingly exploitative. The show’s producers seem to indicate that they plan to challenge Armstrong’s findings in court.