From Lindsay Lohan to Brooke Mueller, celebrity drug and alcohol use is always gracing the cover of every gossip magazine out there. Every celebrity seems to at one point or another begin to use substance to cope with fame, the lack of privacy or the constant paparazzi that can stop them from living a normal life. Some may ask is fame worth the price, especially if it means struggling with a substance use problem and endless rehab trips.
Thanks to shows like Sober House and Celebrity Rehab with Dr Drew, celebrities can now make an earning from exploiting themselves on national TV while trying to overcome a relapse on drugs or binge drinking. By 2013 however, 5 celebrities from Celebrity Rehab have died from suicide or alcohol/drug related incidents, the latest being Mindy McCready.
One of the main problems with the show, and the addiction industry as a whole is that the counselors in rehabs and treatment are constantly reinforcing the idea that addiction is an incurable disease. These addiction specialists, just like Dr. Drew, reiterate a victim mentality that almost gives the person a free pass to continue using. They begin to develop the mentality that they were given this disease, so they do not have to take personal responsibility for their actions anymore, they can’t help themselves.
Ultimately, celebrities like Lindsay Lohan feel defeated by their “disease.” After being in the cycle of rehab for few years, it’s no surprise that she could care less about her alcohol use. She is spinning down a whirl wind of endless recovery and relapse. The sad thing is that this is happening to not only celebrities but to the millions of people who struggle with substance use every day.
There needs to be a change in the treatment industry. Many people would be surprised to hear that there is no medical test that can diagnose someone with an addiction. The disease is purely diagnosed out of “signs of addiction” that doctors have been using since the 1950’s. Treatment hasn’t changed much since then either. Around 95% of drug and alcohol rehabs incorporate the 12 steps of AA into their program or as a recovery program. AA’s success rate is less than 5% and they have been using the same book and 12 steps for over 80 years. If you were diagnosed with cancer, would you trust technology from the 1930’s?
Celebrities are taught powerless and negative thinking patterns in rehab. They are taught to fear alcohol and drugs while taking no responsibility for their actions. They are taught to believe they cannot be anywhere near substance or they will lose control of their behaviors, emotions and reactions. Lastly, they are told that relapse is a part of recovery and is expected. That’s like telling a child that smoking cigarettes is a normal part of their adolescent years. This mentality alone is setting someone up for failure without consequences. Still wondering why celebrities can’t stay sober?
There are alternative programs that don’t teach addiction is a disease and that drinking and drug use can be looked at as a habit that can be changed. The truth is: behaviors can be stopped, changed and relearned. It s certainly not easy but everyone has the power to change inside of them, even those celebrities who are endlessly relapsing and desperate for help.