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Former 'Survivor: China' winner Todd Herzog has extremely severe alcohol addiction, getting rehab from 'Dr. Phil'


By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 11/17/2013 

Todd Herzog has an extremely severe alcohol addiction and will discuss his life-threatening struggle during an already-taped appearance on Dr. Phil on Monday.

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The Survivor: China winner admitted to Dr. Phil he drank an entire bottle of vodka before his public interview. In a preview clip of the broadcast, Herzog was almost incapable of walking and slurred his words when trying to answer questions beside his crying mother Shirley Herzog Keeler.

"In the family, we would take turns on who's going to check on him, because we didn't know if he was going to die overnight," Keeler told People. "I watched him deteriorate. When he wouldn't answer the phone, I'd panic, thinking we had lost him."

Herzog reportedly had his first drink at age 22, and while his drinking habits were initially normal, his behavior got progressively worse over time.

Keeler said her openly-gay son would guzzle down up to three bottles of vodka a day and she didn't know what else to do other than bring him on Dr. Phil to seek help from the talk show host. Keeler's decision was reportedly not popular amongst some of Herzog's friends and family.

"When you're at the end of your rope, you'll do anything to save the life of your child," Keeler told People. "Todd wasn't happy at first, but I figured that I would rather him be alive and mad at me than to be dead... Todd said that if his story can help one person get the help they need, he's ready to go public with it." 

After his Dr. Phil episode taped, the show sent Herzog to a 90-day rehab in Texas for treatment. The former million-dollar winner apparently has a lot of support from those close to him and his fans.

"We have received so many messages from people who are battling the same issues as he is," explained Keeler.

Survivor: China runner-up Courtney Yates told People she had been "very protective of" Herzog and his condition.

"But for better or worse, this is public now. He's accountable to everyone. I think it's important for Todd to know how much people want to see him get better. I hope he can inspire other people who are struggling... People have been nothing but kind and supportive of Todd. Former Survivors, fans, people from the show. He has heard from people all over the world. It speaks well of him that there are so many people who are sending their thoughts and prayers."

Survivor: Pearl Islands and Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains winner Sandra Diaz-Twine, also a good friend of Herzog's, told the magazine she was sincerely worried about him when she discovered he was suffering from alcoholism.

"When I heard about his problem, he called me and I said, 'Todd, come to my house for a few weeks. We'll figure out what to do,'" said Diaz-Twine. "I would do anything to help him... Todd needs to know that he's not going to lose one friend from this. There are people rooting for him. He has always persevered in the past, and we know he can do it now."

The first signs of Herzog's alcohol abuse reportedly came to light in January when Herzog and Yates enjoyed a week-long Caribbean cruise together.

"It was a typical cruise. We swam with dolphins. There were pina coladas everywhere. But Todd's behavior was more extreme than that. There was the shaking and trouble sleeping. It was past the point of just having fun. I told him, 'Todd, you need to get this together or you'll be #86 on VH1's list of reality stars gone bad.' Obviously that was a joke, but it started a serious conversation," Yates recalled to People.

Herzog reportedly checked himself into rehab when the pair returned home from their vacation.

"For a while, it was working and he was staying sober," explained Yates. "But then he moved from Florida to Utah. I think he felt isolated, and he relapsed."

Herzog apparently posted a private message on his Facebook page Monday, giving everyone an update on his current progress in rehab since taping Dr. Phil.

"To all of those sending support and love to me, thank you," Herzog wrote. "I am currently in treatment and doing fantastic and look forward to a healthy and sober life when I leave."

(Photo credit CBS)


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