Dr. Phil is famed for helping people struggling with addiction overcome their demons, but a former guest who appeared on the popular American talk show has suggested that the TV personality actually puts guests in danger.
STAT and the Boston Globe report that Todd Herzog, who appeared on the show in 2013 and won reality TV show Survivor, alleges he was given alcohol and drugs just before he went on stage.
Herzog, who had been battling addiction at the time, alleged that a bottle of vodka was waiting for him in his dressing room before fronted the studio audience and that a staff member gave him a Xanax to “calm his nerves”.
This resulted in the star appearing drunk on the show, with Dr. Phillip McGraw telling his audience: “I’ve never talked to a guest who was closer to death.”
In fact, Dr. Phil breathalysed Herzog in front of the audience, which saw the reality star blow .263. In America, that’s more than three times the legal limit to drive a car.
At the time, Herzog admitted that he’d finished off the bottle of vodka.
The STAT and Boston Globe investigation suggested that guests weren’t given the support they needed to overcome addiction.
In a statement, Dr. Phil has denied that Herzog was left alone with alcohol.
“We do not do that with this guest or any other,” he said.
He also dismissed the allegations against the show as “absolutely, unequivocally untrue.”
Herzog added that he thought the alcohol and drug setup was to make good television.
“You know, I get that it’s a television show and that they want to show the pain that I’m in,” he said.
“However, what would have happened if I died there? You know, that’s horrifying.”
He went on to appear on the show a number of other times.
Despite his claims against Dr. Phil, he still credits the show for helping him get sober: “I’m grateful in a lot of ways for the show. For getting me help in the nicest places in the country.
“There are some things about the show that I don’t like, and that I don’t think are real.
“I should have been in the hospital, in that sense. There should not be litres of vodka in my dressing room.”
The investigation also found a number of other former guests had similar stories, including a former heroin addict who didn’t receive medical help when she was detoxing.
At the time of publication, a representative from the Dr. Phil show declined to be interviewed as part of STAT and the Boston Globe’s investigation.