Dr. Drew Takes On Amy Winehouse Tonight, Too Late

By , Columist

Now that the Casey Anthony case is over, HLN is seeking new news - some scandal to grip television viewers. Enter Amy Winehouse. Tonight at 9 pm on HLN, Dr. Drew, the addiction specialist’s weeknight show dealing with human behavior and driven by current events, will be devoted to the singer-songwriter’s premature death on July 23. He’s taking viewer’s questions so now all can weigh in.  

Dr. Drew, also the host of Celebrity Rehab on VH1, has publicly commented on Twitter about Winehouse’s struggles with alcohol and drugs: "SO sad, another lost to addiction. A reminder that this is often a fatal condition. Recovery is possible, but sadly not for Amy Winehouse." Dr. Drew knows about losing a client. Mike Starr, formerly of Alice in Chains, who appeared on a season of Celebrity Rehab and Sober House, died in March, apparently from a mixture of drugs.

Addiction is a wily condition. For those who don’t believe rehab works Dr. Drew offered insights on CNN with his reactions to Winehouse’s death. The doctor describes her fatal condition and the serious risk of returning to a career prematurely, and how both handlers and the public misunderstand the recovery process. The song “Rehab” reflects what he calls the addict’s “disturbance of thinking,” convinced they don’t need treatment. “Inevitably they relapse,” he explains. “This condition isn’t fixed in 30, 60 or even 90 days… there are no short cuts with opiate addiction. The prognosis is worse than the majority of cancers.”

Many have paid tribute to Winehouse, including Jaan Uhelszki in The Morton Report, tweeting their two cents and offering RIPs, from Moby’s horrified and helpless reaction to Russell Brand’s blog, thoughtful and reflective. Russell knows. He’s been there. Of course, this is all before there’s an official cause of death, but the autopsy led to an inquest with results to be revealed October 26. With Winehouse’s addiction problems so well-documented, this is a cautionary tale that makes Dr. Drew’s frequent admonition, “This disease can kill you” sound less heavy-handed.

The current fifth season of Celebrity Rehab has a curious cast featuring actress Sean Young (Blade Runner), baseball star Dwight Gooden, Michael Lohan (Lindsay's dad), Amy "Long Island Lolita" Fisher, Steven Adler (Guns 'N Roses), and a couple representatives of a new category, the reality show celeb. It’s clear how drugs and alcohol derailed careers and wrecked relationships. The process-oriented show and Dr. Drew’s familiarity with celebrity narcissism is intriguing to witness.

Nothing much triggers cool collected Dr. Drew. Though sufficiently detached, he asks the right questions, makes the apropos remark and nails it. Emotions fly wildly on the road to sobriety. But the good doctor attempts to make the process transparent and catches signals keenly—from an inward look to a bullying explosion—noting withdrawal symptoms, dissociation, trauma or another psychological dysfunction. The transformation of someone like actor Tom Sizemore from a sweaty mess to self-aware and on-the-mend shows recovery is possible, if not fragile.

Opinions will fly tonight on HLN at 9 pm, but, no doubt, Dr. Drew will field them with his characteristic aplomb. Tonight is for Amy.

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Roberta Cruger has written for Salon, The Believer, the LA Times magazine, and more. She was the founding media editor of Creem magazine and a member of MTV’s original programming team. Based in LA, she covers the green carpet for Treehugger and entertainment as US correspondent for the AFP’s RelaxNews.

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