Has Dr. Phil gone too far? The popular daytime talk show host has been accused by former guests of supplying drugs and alcohol to vulnerable guests to dramatize their problems in a ploy to increase television ratings.
“Survivor” winner Todd Herzog appeared on the “Dr. Phil” show in 2013 to address his alcoholism problem, but he claims that his vices were exaggerated by producers who placed a bottle of vodka in his dressing room and plied him with Xanax in what appeared to be a stunt to heighten his issues, the health publication STAT reported.
“It’s a callous and inexcusable exploitation,” Dr. Jeff Sugar, an assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at the University of Southern California, told the outlet. “These people are barely hanging on. It’s like if one of them was droning and approaching a lifeboat, and instead of throwing them an inflatable doughnut, you throw them an anchor.”
Herzog said he was given the anti-anxiety pill and told it would “calm his nerves.” Another person said that she was directed by a show staff member to a drug market to find heroin for her detoxing niece in a similar ploy, while other guests were reportedly left to deal with their addictions without assistance after appearing on the show.
A representative for the “Dr. Phil” show shot down the allegations.
“We do not do that with this guest or any other,” Martin Greenberg, a psychologist who serves as the show’s director of professional affairs, told STAT, labelling the story as “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,” he added. “The only change is they are one step closer to getting help, typically help they could not have even come close to affording.”