It's difficult to read Amanda Fortini's excellent New Yorker article on the West Hollywood-based "celebrity" rehab center Wonderland without trying to figure out which sodden celebs are behind the very glaring blind items. For instance, which early-90s lady rocker with a 15-year-old heroin addiction was recently admitted on a "scholarship"? Which regular client of Wonderland's executive director, Howard Samuels, is "an actor and former cocaine addict in his late thirties who, while on location, had cheated on his wife with his twenty-three-year-old co-star"? Not that Samuels would mind the speculation about his clientele, because he actively goes on television to talk about the drug addictions of the celebrities he's treated - Lindsay Lohan, for one - and Samuels doesn't even believe that it's a violation of privacy.Upon seeing a magazine cover of Lindsay and Sam Ronson, Samuels says, "That's the addiction to fame…I mean, I have nothing against being with a woman, but it's the selling of the magazine cover. It's just another thing to fill the void." What's more is that Samuels sees this behavior as above board. "He was able to go on TV and not ever cross the line when Lindsay checked into Promises. There was a total media blitz for two weeks, and you don't get a lot of opportunities like that. He wasn't her therapist, anyway; he's the executive director," Samuels' assistant claims. And Samuels is all about seizing opportunities to make cash: Wonderland is almost $60,000 a month for a single room, and of course it doens't take insurance. Unlike other famous rehabs like the Betty Ford Clinic, Wonderland patients are allowed to have cell phones and are allowed to come and go as they please. According to Fortini, "They are taken on shopping trips, and are allowed to bring their dogs. Actors are sometimes released to work on films; musicians can travel for tours." It's basically like summer camp, except with less weed. This is rehab for the uber-wealthy exclusively, but even in this rarified environment, celebrities get special treatment. According to one Wonderland patient who was there at the same time as Hurricane Lindsay in early 2007 (before her public relapse and subsequent treatment elsewhere):
I said, ‘Well, I think some people are a little bothered that their program and their stay at Wonderland is being negatively impacted by this craziness and why rules don't apply to her that apply to us. I mean, there is some resentment building up.' And he said, ‘You know what, Mike, I hear you, but we have to cater our program and our treatment center to each individual to make it work for them. Because if we didn't do that for this individual, she would have been gone on Day One.'
And who cares anyway, because, according to Samuels, himself a former addict and the son of a wealthy, politically prominent New Yorker, his plush rehab doesn't even work! "I'm not a believer that treatment centers save people's lives," Samuels tells the New Yorker, "I think if you've got a really good treatment center you can go a long way toward helping a person, but at the end of the day it's not about the treatment center. It's about the individual, and about whether or not they're at that place to change." Of course, it's true of all treatments that the individual has to want to make a change for the rehab to be successful. But, as Dr. Drew told Fortini, "The more you cater to an addict's demands, the more you support their disease." How is a celebrity going to learn that their behavior has consequences when they're treated like deities, even in rehab? Special Treatment [New Yorker]