Some former guests of the “Dr. Phil” show are accusing the television series of exploiting them and putting them in danger by providing them alcohol or drugs before they appeared on stage to discuss their addiction problems. The bombshell allegations are laid out in a new STAT News/Boston Globe investigation.
“America’s best-known television doctor presents himself as a crusader for recovery who rescues people from their addictions — and even death,” that report states. “But in its pursuit of ratings, the ‘Dr. Phil’ show has put at risk the health of some of those guests it purports to help, according to people who have been on the show and addiction experts.”
Todd Herzog, the 2007 winner of "Survivor: China," claimed that before he went on stage in 2013 to talk to host Phillip McGraw about his battle with alcoholism, a bottle of vodka was left in his dressing room. He drank the entire bottle, and then he was allegedly given a Xanax.
“I’ve never taken Xanax before it my life, and I know that can be a deadly combination, so why it was given to me, I don’t know,” Herzog told STAT News.
The result was dramatic and made for great television.
“I’ve never talked to a guest who was closer to death,” McGraw said as Herzog stumbled so badly that he needed to be carried onto the set. He was apparently too intoxicated to walk on stage.
Herzog told STAT News/Boston Globe that he was sober when he showed up to the Los Angeles studio.
Martin Greenberg, the “Dr. Phil” show’s director of professional affairs, has denied Herzog’s claims in a statement, calling the allegations “absolutely, unequivocally untrue.”
“We do not do that with this guest or any other,” he stated.
In an earlier interview, Greenberg told STAT News, “Dr. McGraw has a very strong sense of trying to not exploit people. Now it is a television show. These people volunteer to come on. They beg to come on. And he tries to treat them with respect […] and to give them the opportunity to get help if they want to do that. It’s not a complicated formula.”
Herzog is not the only former “Dr. Phil” guest who has made such claims. According to the STAT News report, one guest, Marianne Smith, said her niece Jordan bought heroin with the support of the show’s staff. Jordan was a guest on the show in 2012 for an episode entitled “Young, Reckless, and Enabled.” Smith contacted the show to get help with Jordan’s heroin addiction. She said that when she, Jordan and Jordan’s mom arrived in Los Angeles from another state, Jordan began going through withdrawal. Smith and Jordan's mother were worried about her and allegedly told a producer on the show she needed heroin.
“They [a show producer] told us where to go [to buy heroin], Skid Row,” Smith told STAT News, adding that the show did not provide any medical assistance for Jordan.
Greenberg denied Smith’s claims, stating, “We could go on and talk about Jordan L. or ten others. Same reality. All had medical supervision.”
[Photo: Getty Images]