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Joking won't help, Dr. Oz warns Ford

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TORONTO -- Television host Dr. Mehmet Oz has weighed in on Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's battle with addiction, warning a "grandiose" and "playful" attitude while in rehab will get him nowhere.

"Part of the process of rehab is to completely disconnect from experiences, from triggers, that took you to where you already were," Oz said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

"So if being grandiose or joking around or being playful is going to put you back in a place where you may be prone to the same types of mistakes again, then it's going to delay the healing process."

The host of The Dr. Oz Show was commenting on the mayor's statements this week in which he called rehab "amazing" and compared it to football camp. Oz, a cardiothoracic surgeon who often speaks about addiction and mental health on his show, said the mayor should not be making work-related calls while in treatment.

"I want to applaud the mayor for being in rehab. Some people get the message later than others, but if you get the message at all, you're still better off," he said.

"I pray that he will be thoughtful and be guided by people around him who are knowledgeable in this area, so that he'll get better as fast as possible."

Asked if he thought Ford should step down or drop out of the campaign, Oz said he didn't know all the details of the mayor's situation, but abandoning the race could send the wrong message to addicts.

"I would leave those decisions to him and his team, but I would think that an addict should not think that their life would be destroyed if they come out, acknowledge there's a problem and then move into treatment," he said.

"If someone like Rob Ford can go through therapy, change what he's been doing, and return to be a great mayor of Toronto, that would be a wonderful, and I think a great stimulant to a lot of people struggling."

After five years on the air, Oz said the most important thing he's learned is the key to personal change -- whether it's beating obesity, addiction or any other hurdle -- is self-esteem.

"The irony of the human condition, the reason I have a show, is that even though people know exactly what to do, they still don't do it, because we haven't communicated it the right way," he said. "Convincing you that you have an appropriate opportunity, but also should have the passion, to change your life... is something that when you hear it and you get it, you actually have to do it."

The television host best known for his "cleanses" and healthy eating tips got his start in regular appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show.

Oz said Winfrey -- whose company Harpo Productions co-produces his show -- continues to be his mentor and he joked he went to "Oprah Winfrey University."

"The most important tip she ever told me is that people don't change based on what they know. They change based on how they feel," he said. "So if you can get people to connect emotionally with what you're talking about, instead of just drilling their brains with information, they'll change."

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 11, 2014 A5

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