If 2017 has taught us anything it is that there is no smoke without fire. It has been the year that educated us on the importance of listening to people, no matter how obscure they sound. For example, this time last year we’d have questioned anyone who suggested that Kevin Spacey was guilty of sexually harassing young men. But we are wiser now, or just less cynical, after a year of being hounded by horrifying headlines and scary stories.
So when several former guests of Dr. Phil came forward to say that they were lured into taking drugs and drinking alcohol before appearing on the show, we couldn’t help but listen attentively to what they had to say.
The guests, all former addicts, claim that they were invited on to the show so that they could be publicly treated for their problems, free of charge. Of course, this is exactly how the show works. But, part of the process you don’t see is where the show’s crew allegedly ply the participants with substances to ensure they’re intoxicated before appearing on air. Thus, making their condition appear much worse than it actually is in order to generate a dramatic transformation process.
According to former guest, Todd Herzog who appeared on the show back in 2013, his life was put at “risk” by the show. Herzog horrified the show’s viewers when he appeared on the set outrageously drunk, blowing an alarming 0.263 on a breathalyzer test -three times over the drink-drive limit.
Herzog, who at the time was battling an alcohol addiction, claims that he arrived at the show’s Los Angeles studio stone-cold sober. But, this quickly changed when he discovered a full bottle of Smirnoff vodka in his dressing room – a bottle that he claims was intentionally planted to entice him.
Unsurprisingly, he drank the bottle. When it came time for him to appear on the stage, in front of the show’s audience and camera crew, he claims that he was given Xanax to “calm his nerves.”
Alone this allegation could potentially be swept away and discredited if it wasn’t for the fact that multiple other former guests have come forth with similar stories.
In another alleged incident, Marianne Smith was told to go to LA’s Skid Row to score heroin for her drug-addicted niece, Jourdan who appeared on the show in 2012. Smith cannot recall the name of the producer, but can clearly recall being told to keep quiet about the incident.
Another allegation came from Joelle King-Parrish, a mother who bought her pregnant, heroin-addicted daughter Kaitlin onto Dr Phil in 2016. King-Parrish, a nurse, recalls how the show didn’t provide her daughter with any medical attention while she was withdrawing, forcing her to take her daughter to the hospital where she was also refused help. Desperate she returned to Dr Phil to help.
But no such help was given. Instead, King-Parrish concluded that she needed to score heroin for her daughter in order to relieve her pain. As she went out in search of the drug, a member of staff from the show joined her. The whole incident was caught on camera and later shown on the show out of context.
“They were, I guess, desperate to do something,” Herzog, who is now sober, explains. “Of course it’s going to create attention and they were right.”
“You know, I get that it’s a television show and that they want to show the pain that I’m in,” Herzog told STAT and The Boston Globe. “However, what would have happened if I died there? You know, that’s horrifying.”
Meanwhile, Martin Greenberg a psychologist who serves as Dr Phil‘s director of professional affairs stated that all the allegations are “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,” Greenberg told STAT/the Globe in a statement. “The only change is they are one step closer to getting help, typically help they could not have even come close to affording.”