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 withSurvivor: Chinawinner 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 onDr. Philand 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.”
“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 said in the statement. “The only change is they are one step closer to getting help, typically help they could not have even come close to affording.”
Herzog went on to appear on Dr. Phil a total of four times. While the first three appearances he says he felt coerced, the final and fourth time in late 2016 he went to take advantage of the free treatment offered to guests and is sober today. He says that the first appearance was not the only time he found vodka waiting for him in the green room.
A clip of Herzog’s first appearance on Dr. Phil is below, in which McGraw made him take an actual breathalyzer on stage. The reality star blew a .263, which is more than three times the legal limit to drive.