Details on Todd Herzog’s rehab, how Survivor contributed to alcoholism, Dr. Phil appearance

Survivor China winner Todd Herzog is now in treatment for alcoholism following an appearance on Dr. Phil last week, which was essentially an intervention by his family, as he was not aware he was appearing on TV until confronted by cameras at home.

I’ve learned details about his appearance from a member of the studio audience at last week’s taping. The episode will be broadcast sometime this month; a show publicist did not respond to a request for a specific broadcast date. Second update: The episode will air Monday, Nov. 18.

First, though, Survivor cast member Mike Skupin posted a note on Facebook he says was written by Todd from treatment:

“To all of those sending support and love to me, thank you! I am currently in treatment and doing fantastic and look forward to a healthy and sober life when I leave. This is the only time I will have access to the internet or phone for a while, but I am receiving and reading all of the emails sent to me. I am unable to respond but will read all! If you’d like to send a message you can at [email protected] Thank you again and I’ll update you in a few weeks.
Much love,
Todd”

As the domain on the e.mail makes clear, and as an audience member confirmed to me, Todd is in a residential treatment facility in Austin, Texas, that advertises itself as a “proud addiction treatment provider for Dr. Phil.”

Cast member Coby Archa posted a note of support on Facebook Facebook that also answered a question that some had: “Spencer and Todd have broken up. And Todd is in a very sad rabbit hole of addiction and darkness with alcohol.’

Here are details about what happened during the Dr. Phil episode taping that an audience member shared with me. These things may or may not end up on the edited version of the episode, of course:

  • Todd was trying to detox on his own, having not had success with rehab facilities; however, doing that on his own in the past resulted in seizures. His family appeared on the show first, and talked to him on the phone, and because of his current attempt at self-detox–which can be fatal–family members and addiction specialists ended up rushing to give him a bit of alcohol, in order to step him down.
  • Todd let addiction specialists and the show’s cameras in, but previously was not aware that his family had sought Dr. Phil’s help for an intervention.
  • In the studio, around 11 a.m., he blew around a 2.5, perhaps 2.6, when his blood alcohol level was tested. It was also revealed that he’d had a 5.5 BAL when he was last hospitalized. The audience member said that those who think he’s faking are “inhuman and cruel” because he was so clearly intoxicated.
  • He’d also had blood in his feces and his organs were failing, so his death was truly imminent. He was drinking about two bottles of liquor a day.
  • Todd was concerned about getting to a red-carpet Survivor event in December he was invited to–likely the finale for Survivor Blood vs. Water–and that’s why he wanted to get sober. Later, he kept insisting he needed to be out of treatment by Nov. 22 for the release of the second Hunger Games movie. Dr. Phil told him rehab would last at least 90 days.
  • However, he agreed to go to rehab, and went there directly from the set; the audience member said that when first confronted, he insisted to his family he wouldn’t go to rehab again, but the audience member was convinced that being on TV–the attention he was getting, which he responded to in part by being funny even in his intoxicated state–helped convince him to go.
  • Another Survivor cast member was in the audience and identified as a friend of Todd’s; the audience member, who wasn’t familiar with the show’s cast, thinks the person was Sandra Diaz-Twine, who won both Survivor Pearl Islands and Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains.
  • Todd said that he didn’t abuse alcohol until after Survivor, when he started drinking heavily because he took advantage of the free alcohol available at cast events.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.