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News in 5: Shock accusations against Dr Phil; Boy 'locked in car'; 'Doggo' to become word.

1. Dr Phil accused of helping people with addictions score alcohol and drugs in explosive investigation.

Television presenter Phillip McGraw, best known as “Dr Phil”, is accused of giving drug and alcohol to addicts before their appearance on his show.

The 67-year-old psychologist, who has built his reputation around helping people overcome addiction, allegedly ‘set up’ former Survivor winner Todd Herzog when he appeared on the show in 2013, according to a joint STAT/Boston Globe investigation.

“I’ve never talked to a guest who was closer to death,” McGraw said when the cameras started rolling, showing Herzog being carried and propped upright in his chair on the show’s stage.

Now, 32-year-old Herzog has told STAT he was not drunk when he arrived at the Los Angeles studio. But, he said when he found a bottle of vodka left in his dressing room, he drank that before being given a Xanax by a producer who said it would “calm his nerves”.

Further investigation by STAT/Boston Globe found guests to the show were often left in hotel rooms without medical help for up to 48 hours before screening, suffering extreme withdrawal symptoms. Two people allege addicts were directed by the show’s staff where to find herion or other illicit drugs during this withdrawal process. And a pregnant woman was reportedly filmed by the production crew as she searched for a dealer on the streets.

Dr Jeff Sugar, assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at the University of Southern California, called it a “callous and inexcusable exploitation”.

While McGraw himself has not responded publicly to the allegations, a psychologist who works on the show Martin Greenberg said the claims are “absolutely, unequivocally untrue”.

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This is not the first time McGraw, who has a doctorate in psychology but has not been licensed to practice since 2006, has been the centre of controversy.

He’s been accused of exploiting his subjects before, but everyone who’s tried to sue him has been unsuccessful. And, last year, a former segment director took him to court for false imprisonment, accusing McGraw of locking staff members in a room and threatening them because of leaks to the media. That case was settled out of court and now McGraw is suing his accuser in federal court.

As for Herzog, who is now sober, he said he’s just thankful he survived it.

“You know, I get that it’s a television show and that they want to show the pain that I’m in,” Herzog told STAT. “However, what would have happened if I died there? You know, that’s horrifying.”

To read the full STAT/Boston Globe report, click here.

2. Man and woman arrested after allegedly locking 7-yo boy in a hot car.

child abuse little boy
Image via iStock.

A young boy has been beaten and locked in a car in northern NSW, according to police who have arrested a man and a woman over the incident, AAP reports.

Police found the seven-year-old locked in a car in Brunswick Heads on Wednesday, with witnesses telling them a man had kicked and dragged him before locking him in the vehicle.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, police allege the boy was trapped in the car for at least 50 minutes before he was rescued.

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A 43-year-old man and a 45-year-old woman, understood to be the boy's parents or guardians, were charged with a series of offences stemming from the incident.

The man, who faces charges including assault and intimidation, is expected to appear before Tweed Heads Local Court on Thursday, while the woman is due to appear at Byron Bay Local Court in the new year.

Arrangements were being made for the boy's ongoing care, police said. He was taken to hospital for treatment where he remains.

3. A survey has revealed that Aussies are more stressed than they ever have been before.

woman stressed at work
Image via Getty.

Australians are feeling more stressed than ever, with a lack of sleep, work pressures and even social media playing a role, a survey has found.

The number of stressed Aussies has jumped by about a third to 4.9 million during the past decade, research by health fund Medibank shows according to AAP.

Most blamed a lack of sleep, trying to juggle too many things and work pressures for causing them to feel stressed.

Housing affordability, pressures from social media and the global political climate also contributed.

The majority of the 1000 people surveyed also believed their stress levels had affected their sleep and social relationships.

Half said they'd been irritable towards loved ones and colleagues, while just over a third were reluctant to take part in social activities and 18 per cent felt they couldn't be 'there' for family members.

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Medibank chief medical officer Dr Linda Swan said the research also found people who were affected by stress were more likely to suffer from mental health conditions including depression, anxiety and panic attacks.

"It's clear 2017 has been a tough year for many, with both personal and wider societal pressures being the major contributors to our stress. That's why it's essential we do everything we can to take care of our mental wellbeing and continue to look out for one another as we enter a new year."

If you or someone you know needs help you can call Lifeline on 131 114 or Beyondblue 1300 224 636.

4. Good news: The word 'doggo' might finally be making its way into the dictionary.

brown puppy labrador dog flu
Image via Getty.

In news that's sure to brighten up the final days of 2017, Merriam-Webster has revealed that it's closely watching the word "doggo" to see if it meets the criteria for being official listed in the dictionary.

In a post on their 'Words We're Watching' page, Merriam-Webster traced the origins of the term back to the late 19th-century, quoting an article from Time Magazine in 1886 that used the phrase.

The term gained even more popularity in 2016, when popular Twitter account WeRateDogs began captioning pictures with the word.

"Doggo saw a meteoric rise in use in 2017 and continues its upward trajectory, as the nation turns its lonely eyes to dog pictures for comfort and some much-needed encouragement to carry on," Merriam-Webster said.

The dedicated blog post to the term sparked the interest of the internet, with thousands of proud doggo owners sharing images with Merriam-Webster of their own "good boys" and asking for approval.

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"Oh no, now our mentions are full of good boys and girls. Whatever shall we do except love every one," the dictionary site tweeted.

Here's hoping 2018 well and truly becomes the year of the doggo.

5. Australian surrogacy nurse jailed in Cambodia asks for sentence reduction, revealing she has cancer.

Tammy Davis-Charles. Image via Facebook.

An Australian nurse who was convicted earlier this year in a surrogacy case in Cambodia has reportedly asked the Court of Appeal in Phnom Penh for a sentence reduction, saying she has cancer, AAP reports.

Tammy Davis-Charles was jailed for 18 months in August for falsifying documents and acting as an intermediary in a commercial surrogacy operation.

"I would like to request the court to reduce the punishment for me so that I can leave prison soon and get treatment," she said during the Wednesday hearing, in which she submitted a letter allegedly confirming a diagnosis of cancer in her left eye, the Phnom Penh Post reported.

Davis-Charles worked on behalf of Families Through Surrogacy, an Australian-based organisation that linked surrogates with would-be parents.

She allegedly charged foreign parents $50,000 per surrogacy and paid surrogates $10,000.

Commercial surrogacy was outlawed in Cambodia in October 2016 and Davis-Charles was arrested one month after the ban entered into effect.

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The court is schedule to issue its decision in the appeal case on January 8.

6. Wild Oats XI stripped of Sydney to Hobart line honours.

LDV Comanche is the new record-holding Sydney to Hobart line honours champion after Wild Oats XI was stripped of the title for breaking race rules.

Wild Oats XI was hit with a one-hour time penalty on Thursday over a near collision between the two supermaxis as they jostled to get out of Sydney Harbour on Boxing Day, AAP reports.

An international jury delivered the verdict after a marathon three-hour hearing.

It ruled Wild Oats XI breached the rules during a tacking manoeuvre.

Wild Oats XI finished 27 minutes ahead of LDV Comanche on Wednesday night, meaning the one hour penalty cost the eight-time line honours winner first place.

LDV Comanche's time of one day, nine hours, 15 minutes and 24 seconds stands as the new race record.

"The jury decided very clearly that there was an infringement in the harbour that penalised us," LDV Comanche owner and skipper Jim Cooney said.

"When things come down to the wire so closely like that I think it's only fair and reasonable that the jury acted the way they did."

Wild Oats skipper XI Mark Richards said the decision hurt "big time".

Meanwhile, Matt Allen's latest Ichi Ban is expected to be named as the race's overall leader at a ceremony on Friday.