In a damning new report resulting from a joint investigation by STAT and the Boston Globe, the Dr. Phil show, which has been hosted by former licensed psychologist Phil McGraw since 2002, is being accused of exploiting addict guests by providing them with drugs and alcohol in an effort to boost ratings.
STAT spoke with Survivor: China winner Todd Herzog, who first appeared on the daytime talk show in 2013, when he was in the midst of battling alcoholism. Herzog details being flown out to Los Angeles to appear on Dr. Phil and being taken to a hotel where he detoxed for two days — which can be potentially dangerous for an addict if not medically supervised — only to arrive at the studio and find a bottle of vodka waiting for him in the green room. After drinking the entire liter, he was offered a Xanax by a staffer before heading out on stage telling him it would “calm his nerves.” By the time he was to go on stage he was wasted, and needed to be physically carried to his chair.
The publication spoke with other prior Dr. Phil guests who relayed similar stories. One unidentified woman even claimed that a staff member advised her to purchase heroin on the drug market for her detoxing niece.
“It’s a callous and inexcusable exploitation,” said Dr. Jeff Sugar, assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at the University of Southern California. “These people are barely hanging on. It’s like if one of them was drowning and approaching a lifeboat, and instead of throwing them an inflatable doughnut, you throw them an anchor.”
Martin Greenberg, a psychologist and the director of professional affairs for Dr. Phil, vehemently denied the allegations, which he claims are “absolutely, unequivocally untrue.”