Why Celebrities Struggle with Addiction So Often
One is seven Americans will battle substance addiction, and substance use disorders don’t discriminate. Despite socioeconomic or financial status, the struggle with addiction is substantial.
Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs and Health reveals an estimated 21 million Americans struggle with substance addictions. That’s more than the number of people who have all cancers combined. Despite the substance use epidemic in America, only 10 percent of those who struggle with addiction get help to achieve sobriety.
A specific portion of the population – those we often admire and respect – have recently filled media outlets with stories of addiction and relapse. Celebrities struggle with addiction in the same way the rest of us do. The belief that money and fame somehow shield you from dependency is inaccurate.
Addiction is not a moral flaw; it's a disease, and it affects those with endless financial resources the same as it does those who struggle to pay the rent.
Celebrities and the Struggle with Addiction
The idea that celebrities “have it all” creates the illusion that they are immune from severe, debilitating illnesses. But, just as adoring fans battle struggles that trigger substance use, celebrities face challenging circumstances as well.
A mixture of wealth, stardom, and fame combined with the grueling pressure to perform and the public scrutiny that comes with it, can create an intense desire to escape. As we’ve seen multiple times with celebrity addiction, drug and alcohol use can intensify over time. Addiction is a progressive disease that, when left untreated, only worsens.
It’s crucial to seek treatment for addiction the moment it’s recognized. But, so many individuals suffering from substance use disorder refuse to acknowledge the problem until a perilous path of destruction has been formed in nearly every avenue of life.
Research from Dr. S. Robert Lathan, presented at the annual meeting of the American Osler Society, April 2009 and published by Baylor University Medical Center Proceedings, takes an in-depth look at celebrities from the ‘50s and ‘60s who all battled substance abuse. Dr. Lathan concludes that stars like Elvis Presley, Hank Williams, Janice Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and several others suffered from substance abuse, “a disease that can result in depression, insomnia, personality changes, impaired judgment, and poor relationships.”
The availability of illicit drugs, access to numerous doctors, and the use of multiple pharmacies put substance abuse easily within reach for celebrities. Just as it was some 70 years ago, addiction “is still frequently approached with secrecy and denial,” Dr. Lathan writes. If we are going to address substance use disorder better in the U.S., we must be willing to bring the illness into the light.
What Causes Struggle With Addiction?
After the tragic deaths of many celebrities who, it’s often later revealed, battled substance use disorder, the medical community began to look at what creates the struggle with addiction. As Dr. Drew Pinsky points out, because addiction is a disease, it’s a shared struggle among celebrities and those you love, work with and cohabitate with each day. There is no discrimination where addiction takes hold. People who are pre-wired or genetically predisposed for addiction are more likely to seek the rush or high of mood-altering drugs. When celebrities suffer from addiction, it’s often the case that they’re seeking the “high of the spotlight” and will turn to drugs or alcohol as the solution.
Celebrity addiction reveals that no matter the socioeconomic status or financial standing, substance use disorder requires the same acknowledgment that help is needed. The path to sobriety is the same necessary, difficult journey for anyone battling addiction.
SpringBoard Recovery in Scottsdale, AZ, offers the same type of substance abuse treatment used by celebrities. Dylan McDermott notes the “rock of the 12 steps” helped guide him through sobriety while Brad Pitt relied on group counseling as a way “to expose the ugly sides of yourself.”
Addiction knows no boundaries, but quality drug treatment can help all who battle with substance use disorder. The Springboard Recovery staff has extensive experience in addiction treatment for drugs and alcohol in addition to dual diagnosis treatment. Our personalized treatment plans to meet your specific needs and support you in a way that will help you develop long-term sobriety. To overcome the addiction crisis, we must stop our reliance on silence and follow Elton John’s lead to summon “the courage to say three words that would change my life: ‘I need help.’”