Blurring the Lines Between Addiction and Entertainment

"I was 15½, I think 15 the first time I smoked weed, and by 19 I was clean," Feldman said. "So the actual addiction lasted from about 16½ to about 18½.

"It shattered my career to be completely brutally honest. Shattered it into pieces."

Feldman said he's grateful for the way things turned out, forcing him to face his demons and get help that has kept him sober for close to 19 years.

"Thank God that I fell into the barricades and the problems and the pit holes that I did, because had I not fallen into those pit holes at such an early age, it would've followed my career and it would've followed my life," he said, adding that for many of today's celebrities the repeated "second chances" and lack of accountability give them little reason to get sober.

"The problem with the children today is they keep getting opportunities over and over and over. So every time they get into trouble, somebody is willing to bend over and hand them another opportunity."

Trips to the Rehab Clinic

For stars like Lindsay Lohan and Robert Downey Jr., second chances seem to be waiting after every trip to rehab, and, even when they actually do seek help, places like the Meadows in Arizona, or Promises in Malibu, Calif., all including spa treatments and lush grounds, sound like vacation spots that many people could only hope to visit.

But for Pinsky, the public perception that a trip to the rehab clinic is akin to a week at a luxury spa was exactly the reason he wanted to show the public what really goes on behind the gates of treatment centers. After rounding up a group of willing low-end celebrity addicts, he created Celebrity Rehab With Doctor Drew.

The show has been an instant hit for VH1, featuring actors Daniel Baldwin, who left the show in midseason, Jeff Conaway and former porn actress Mary Carey, to name a few. The show has also raised questions about whether putting addicts on television is really in their best interests.

"My question really has to be, what is their real motivation? Is their motivation money or fame -- or sobriety?" said Dr. Howard Samuels, clinical director of the Wonderland Treatment Center in Los Angeles.

"I'm a recovering addict," Samuels said. "No one paid me to go to rehab. I went to rehab because I hit a wall of pain. I went to rehab to save my life. I didn't go to rehab to get a check."

But Pinsky contends that his cameras don't capture the intense and real treatment his patients are getting and the entertainment aspect is worth the risk to give the public a very real look at addiction treatment.

"What people are reacting to is the parts they're seeing, not the recognition that the treatment itself was 14 hours a day," Pinsky said. "They don't know what kind of treatment we did. You don't see that on TV. They had thorough and excellent treatment. Their outcomes were unusually good. The cameras seemed to have a positive effect on them. How is that exploitation?"

"I'm sick and tired of the media -- and as my staff was -- sick and tired of people talking about treatment as though it were some sort of spa experience," he said. "It is serious medical treatment. It is a life-threatening illness. It is worth the risk. And these people were willing to take it."

The chances that Pinsky's celebrities will relapse are high, cameras or not. As Pinsky knows all too well, rehab is a low-percentage business. He hopes that the controversy and harrowing images of public figures battling addiction will spark greater interest in a problem that stretches far beyond Hollywood Boulevard.

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