When her manager got the call for Celebrity Rehab, Brigitte jumped at the opportunity. "It was a good time because I did not want to lose my family," says the mother of four and wife of Italian former bartender Mattia Dessi, who doesn't drink and used to hide her bottles from her. "After the last Surreal Life, I was living in a bottle for, like, ten days, you know? The rap was that Brigitte is always drunk when she shows up for a job. It was a whole package of having to change."
For Brigitte, the public nature of the treatment was a mixed blessing. "There were difficult moments when I was mentally tired from all the emotions and had to keep doing interviews. When you want to find your higher power you need to meditate, you need a breather. And, for me, in the beginning, starting to talk about things from a long time ago, from childhood, that's where I thought, 'To cure myself, do I need to have this on TV? But then again,' I said to myself, 'I am here. I knew the cameras would be here. I am going to be like an open book, and I hope that people will accept me and respect me for my choice.'"
Brigitte suggests that her story and those of her cast mates offer universal lessons about addiction. "Whether you are a celebrity or not, the pain, the lies, the bullshit is the same. How do you say…?" She is momentarily and uncharacteristically at a loss for words, considering that she speaks four languages almost fluently. "The law is the same for everybody."
She has also stopped smoking cigarettes as a result of being on the show. "Now," she says as she slices into another buttery piece of buffalo mozzarella cheese dribbled with extra-virgin olive oil, "if I can just stop eating…"
The buzz, even before Celebrity Rehab aired, was already circulating in the recovery/addiction community of Los Angeles. One alcohol and drug counselor who has her hackles raised at the mere idea of the show is Stasie Kardashian (yes, an extended member of the clan featured on the E! channel's Keeping Up with the Kardashians). "I don't think it should be on TV," she says. "They are getting paid, it's a set, they are actors, and the point is, the inpatient recovery process—if you are doing the work—is so personal and so private. If your stuff is that real, you are not going to want it on TV."
A recovering addict herself with more than a decade of sobriety to her credit, Stasie is a member of the Association of Intervention Specialists and runs interventions for the Betty Ford Center, the grandmother of all rehabs. The most important part of any recovery, she believes, is the spiritual component, and television simply can't do that justice. "I worry that families in crisis will see this," she says of the VH1 series. "So many times pictures misrepresent what is going to happen in rehab." She does, however, concede: "Then again, I don't like reality shows at all. My family just started one. Hellooo?"
We Hear You!