Dr. Phil McGraw prides himself for pulling people out of addiction, but a new report from STAT and the Boston Globe alleges he may have put some at-risk guests right back into it. Ex-guests on McGraw's syndicated talk show, including a former winner of TV's Survivor, say as they waited in hotel rooms to tape the shows focusing on their addictions, they were left without medical help in what STAT calls a "painful and potentially dangerous detox." The former guests, backed up by family, also say they were provided with booze and drugs (or told where they could find drugs) before they taped their appearances. Survivor winner Todd Herzog is one of those who talked to STAT, noting he detoxed at his hotel for two days after the show flew him out to LA, then showed up completely sober for his Dr. Phil taping. When he got to the studio, however, Herzog says he found vodka and Xanax in his dressing room.
He couldn't resist temptation and became intoxicated, spurring McGraw to have him breathe into a Breathalyzer on stage. "You know, I get that it's a television show and that they want to show the pain that I'm in," Herzog says. "However, what would have happened if I died there?" The mother of a pregnant heroin addict, meanwhile, says a staffer took her daughter to Skid Row to get heroin, and that the staffer filmed her daughter as she sought it from the homeless. McGraw didn't comment for the STAT report, but Martin Greenberg, a rep for the show, says Herzog's claims are "absolutely, unequivocally untrue" and that guests were never given drugs or alcohol. A USC professor tells STAT the accusations suggest a "callous and inexcusable exploitation." "These people are barely hanging on," Dr. Jeff Sugar says. "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." More here. (Read more Dr. Phil McGraw stories.)