Dr. Drew on the Science of Addiction

We get some free medical advice from Dr. Drew Pinsky.

Fred Topelby Fred Topel

Dr. Drew on the Science of Addiction

Dr. Drew actually came to find me in the hallway after his panel with the Television Critics Association. I asked one question about how he translates teenspeak, because I’m always impressed how he gets to the point of calls on Loveline. That’s not what his new HLN show is about but he wanted to keep talking, so here’s five minutes of free medical advice from Dr. Drew.

CraveOnline: I’m still interested in this idea of getting people to address the real issue when they’re trying to just talk around it.

Dr. Drew Pinsky: Absolutely, and the press doesn’t know. If you don’t know what the answer is, you can’t ask the right questions. I kind of know what the answer is. I know what’s really going on with people. That’s my training. Then to ask questions respectfully that give them the space to say it the way they want to say it. My job isn’t to out anybody, but I want to get it right. I want to get the record straight. That’s what I want to do on the show.

CraveOnline: That’s even after they come to you for help, but they’re not giving you the right information. How do you get it out of them?

Dr. Drew Pinsky: I just know how to ask the right questions. I’m like a bloodhound. I kind of know where to go.

CraveOnline: Having studied addiction for so long, what is it that people can’t look at past examples and say, “Let’s not fall into that trap?” Is there a natural thing that makes you an addict?

Dr. Drew Pinsky: Yes, listen to this. You’ll love this because when I first started work in the addiction field and started to really understand the genetic potential and how it works, I thought, “Oh my God, we’ve got to educate everybody about this.” I started educating my patients and here’s what their response was: “Well, if I’m so F’ed up, I might as well have a good time in the meantime.” That’s addict thinking, right? That’s a pre-existing condition.

CraveOnline: That’s not how all of them think though.

Dr. Drew Pinsky: That’s how addicts think. People with addiction think, “Oh really? So I might as well have fun anyway.” Because they’re already on their way is the point.

CraveOnline: Are there people who don’t know they’re addicted yet, don’t recognize the signs?

Dr. Drew Pinsky: Or they do realize it but they believe that they’re controlling it. Denial’s part of the condition, right? That’s the nature of the disease. That’s why they’re able to do what they do. You’re asking questions I struggle with all the time. If there were an easy answer to it, believe me, I would have it for you. It’s those of us that are codependent and need to fix people that really feel we should be able to do this. The fact is they have a condition that makes it really impossible for us to do that. It’s either going to progress or it isn’t. It’s in their head. It’s up to them whether that happens or not.

CraveOnline: Do you also study non-chemical addictions?

Dr. Drew Pinsky: Yeah, I do behavioral addictions, gambling and sex. I do a lot of that.

CraveOnline: Is it possible to be addicted to movies or TV?

Dr. Drew Pinsky: I hate to tell you, but I think you may be my first case.

CraveOnline: Oh good, I’m the precedent!

Dr. Drew Pinsky: Well, there’s something called process addiction where people get off on a computer and porn and stuff like that. It makes sense to me that movie and TV could be a part of that. More often than not, that kind of stuff really ends up just being depression, people just sort of escaping into something so that’s not a real addiction.

CraveOnline: I’m getting paid though. I made it a job.

Dr. Drew Pinsky: Right, see, it’s not a real addiction. You can’t turn heroin addiction into a job. Well, I guess you could circulate heroin but eventually it would not work so well.

CraveOnline: So you have weeks and weeks and years and years of material.

Dr. Drew Pinsky: Oh my God, it’s unlimited. It’s people.

CraveOnline: Are there any fringe areas that aren’t covered a lot you want to get into?

Dr. Drew Pinsky: Off the top of my head I can’t think of anything but the answer is yes, I’m sure. That’s what I want to do. I want to be very creative with what we approach, how we approach it, when we do it, how we do it. I’m sure we’ll get into all kinds of stuff. I imagine we’ll get into parenting and child[hood.] I want to go into all kinds of stuff but do it on a news cycle rather than like a daytime talk show. For instance, there was a story about a cross-dressing child and the mom wrote a book about it. I want to go there. That’s a parenting story. I want to look at it, take all angles of it, have a comedian talk about it, have a cross dresser talk about it, have a psychologist. I want to get into all aspects of it.

CraveOnline: Bullying is a big one that comes up. What is the difference between protecting a child against hate crime like bullying against gays, but also the normal stuff you have to develop a toughness to deal with?

Dr. Drew Pinsky: It’s something that’s talked about in the medical literature all the time. A, what’s the threshold for when it is bullying. B, how do you figure it out? How do you know that’s what’s going on? How do you identify it? I think the first order of business is to raise awareness about it, what is it, how it works. There’s lots of literature out there about that. I don’t want us to go overboard which is I think what’s in your question, but it really apparently has a quite a negative effect and it’s well documented so we have to be aware of it to deal with it.

CraveOnline: What new dating issues have you noticed on Loveline as texting and Facebook have become standard?

Dr. Drew Pinsky: Well, sex texting is a new thing. That’s crazy how common that is, sending pictures of themselves and provocative statements and things like that. I mean, that’s crazy how much they’re doing that.

CraveOnline: Isn’t that illegal if they’re underage?

Dr. Drew Pinsky: I imagine. Also the way pornography is influencing how they think men and women should behave with one another is really rather stunning.