Shocking claims against Dr Phil
IT MAY have been a surprise for viewers of Dr. Phil to see Todd Herzog - the winner of Survivor: China - appear completely drunk in an episode aired in 2013, blowing a whopping .263, which is more than three times the legal limit to drive, in a breathalyser test.
But even more shocking are the bombshell allegations that Herzog, now 32, is making.
In a joint investigative story between STAT and the Boston Globe published Thursday, Herzog, who at the time was battling an alcohol addiction, claims that he was stone-cold sober when he arrived at the show's Los Angeles studio for the taping - and found a bottle of Smirnoff vodka in his dressing room.
Herzog says he was unable to resist drinking the bottle - and claims that, once he had, a show staffer gave him a Xanax to "calm his nerves", reports the New York Post.
He isn't alone in his accusations. Several Dr. Phil guests have come forward to allege that the so-called saviour for addicts has put addict guests at risk, whether by leaving them without medical attention or by helping them score drugs throughout the detox process.
"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 Globe. "However, what would have happened if I died there? You know, that's horrifying."
A Dr. Phil representative declined STAT and the Globe's request for an interview. CBS reps did not immediately respond to a separate request from The Post seeking comment.
Herzog appeared on Dr. Phil on several other occasions. His third time, in 2014, he says he found another bottle of vodka placed in his dressing room, but only drank some of it.
Herzog, now sober, does concede that Dr. Phil also helped his recovery.
"I'm grateful in a lot of ways for the show. For getting me help in the nicest places in the country. That's a gift right there," Herzog told STAT/the Globe.
But he maintains that "there should not be litres of vodka in my dressing room."
The show denied that vodka was left in the dressing room.
In another alleged instance, Marianne Smith, whose heroin-addicted niece, Jordan, appeared on the show in 2012, says a show producer told them to go to LA's Skid Row to score heroin when Jordan began withdrawing.
Smith says she doesn't remember the name of the producer, but claims that person advised her to stay quiet about the troubling recommendation.
Smith also alleges the show never provided any medical supervision for when Jordan was detoxing.
Yet another allegation, from Joelle King-Parrish - who brought her pregnant, heroin-addicted daughter Kaitlin to Dr. Phil in 2016 - asserts that Kaitlin wasn't given medical attention by the show when she went into withdrawal.
King-Parrish, a nurse, says staffers told her to "take care of it," so she eventually took Kaitlin to the hospital.
When she didn't receive any treatment there, the pair returned to the studio. To ease the withdrawal symptoms, King-Parrish thought her daughter needed drugs - so a show staff member joined them on a hunt for heroin, and video from that hunt later appeared on the show.
Unlike other forms of drug detox, heroin withdrawal is not thought to be fatal, according to medical experts.
Martin Greenberg, a psychologist who serves as the show's director of professional affairs, told STAT/the Globe that guests have never been given alcohol or told where to score drugs. He adds the charges levied are "absolutely, unequivocally untrue."
"Addicts are notorious for lying, deflecting and trivialising. 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."
Meanwhile, critics are blasting the show.
"It's a callous and inexcusable exploitation," Dr Jeff Sugar, an assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at the University of Southern California, told STAT/the Globe.
"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."
A representative for Dr. Phil did not immediately return a request for comment.