Mindy McCready Death Has Dr. Drew Defending 'Celebrity Rehab'

Five of the show's alums have died in the past two years.

February 19, 2013, 11:33 AM

Feb. 19, 2013 — -- Dr. Drew Pinsky defended his show "Celebrity Rehab" on "The View" today, saying that he received messages of support from former participants after the death of Mindy McCready. . She was the fifth person who has appeared on the show to die in the past two years.

Dr. Drew was defending his show in the face of fresh criticism from the public and recovery advocates who say the process "doesn't belong on our TV screens." The grandfather of another one of the show's deceased alums said that when he heard about McCready, he thought to himself, "Dr. Drew lost another one."

"I wish I could be more responsible for them," Dr. Drew said of the show's alums when he called into "The View" today. "I've received yesterday about 10 emails and texts from those that are doing well that are so grateful and wanted to reassure me."

Former madam and show participant Heidi Fleiss emailed Dr. Drew to tell him the show was "the best thing I've ever done for myself," he said.

Mindy McCready is Fifth 'Celebrity Rehab' Death

Dr. Drew said he hadn't been McCready's doctor in years, but wished some of the show's participants would have continued treatment with his team. The VH1 show had five seasons from 2008 to 2011. McCready appeared on the third season of the show.

McCready, 37, died Sunday of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound at her Arkansas home, police said.

Dr. Drew said he reached out to McCready recently after her boyfriend and father of one of her two children, David Wilson, died in January of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

"She was so severely shattered by that experience. All the people around her, her friends began calling me," Dr. Drew told "The View." "She was in trouble...She was really struggling and she knew it."

He said McCready was "mortified" about the "stigma and judgment" from the public and the press and that it took convincing to get her to go a hospital. He said she eventually went, but left "prematurely" because of the fear of stigmatization and "that's when things really unraveled."

Losing custody of her children was "the last straw," Dr. Drew said.

SEE PHOTOS: Notable Deaths in 2013

The country singer who soared to the top of the charts with her debut album, "Ten Thousand Angels," struggled with substance abuse, served time in jail and fought a lengthy battle with her mother over custody of her son.

McCready's death has revived much criticism for the TV show from the pubilc on social media and from experts.

"For whatever reason, there's this incredible fascination with people while they're actively using and their lives in addiction and we really think it doesn't belong on our TV screens," Patricia Taylor, executive director of Faces & Voices of Recovery, an advocacy group for people in recovery, told ABCNews.com.

"We don't have shows with people with cancer or diabetes or other health conditions," she said.

Taylor said that people not wanting to get treatment because they are afraid of how others will perceive them is an issue with many people, not just celebrities.

"We are very concerned about the deaths and unfortunately too many people in America are dying from addiction and we really need to make sure to make it possible for people to get the help that they need to recover," she said.

Dr. Drew Defends 'Celebrity Rehab' After Mindy McCready's Death

Eugene Kovar, the grandfather of former "Celebrity Rehab" participant Joey Kovar, said that when he heard about McCready's death, he thought to himself, "Dr. Drew lost another one."

Joey Kovar was on the show at the same time as McCready. But Eugene Kovar, 76, who raised Joey, doesn't blame the show for his grandson's death.

"I think it's a good place if you just keep staying there until you get cured," Kovar told ABCNews.com today. "They were trying to help him."

Joey Kovar was a personal trainer and actor in Chicago when he was cast on MTV's "The Real World: Hollywood" in 2008. He struggled with alcohol, cocaine, ecstasy and other drugs as well as steroids as part of his bodybuilding, according to his "Celebrity Rehab" bio.

Exactly six months before McCready's death, on Aug. 17, 2012, Kovar was found dead in the home of a friend who reportedly found him with blood coming out of his nose and ears. He was 29 and left behind a 3-year-old son and a 2-year-old daughter.

"Everybody misses him," Eugene Kovar said. "Everybody's broken-hearted over this."

While he doesn't resent the show, he said one aspect of it makes him sad.

"I'm just mad because they never got in touch with me to say they're sorry about Joey," Kovar said, pointing at Dr. Drew and the show's head counselor Bob Forrest.

Kovar said Joey's two children are doing well and are both "typical Joey." He recalled his lively grandson impersonating wrestlers like Hulk Hogan and the Rock and dressing up like a different celebrity every Halloween.

"He was the greatest. He helped everybody. I never heard anything bad about him," Kovar said. "No matter where he went, people just loved him."

Kovar said his wife, Joey's grandmother, struggles a lot with his death.

"That was her boy, Joey. She's never going to get over this and me neither," he said. "If there is a God, then wherever he is, I'm sure Joey is up there with Him."

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