May 15th, 2012 16:10 EST
Why Do Celebrities Fail at Alcohol and Drug Rehab?
Reasons Why Celebrities Fail at Alcohol and Drug Rehab
Over the past 35 years of practicing as an addiction psychologist, I`ve treated countless celebrities including rock stars, actors, professional athletes, media personalities, politicians, etc. My observations regarding why celebrities often fail repeatedly at rehab are as follows:
They often go to rehab for the wrong reasons-- to save their public image, to satisfy agents/bookers/etc.., to get others off their bac-- rather than to overcome their addiction and permanently change their lives
- They are often shielded from the consequences of their addiction and other dysfunctional behaviors by multiple layers of enablers, handlers, sycophants, who routinely compensate, hide, and make excuses for their dysfunction and keep the media at bay
- As wealthy, powerful, privileged individuals they employ and control the income of most people around them, often including family members, who are afraid to confront them and may purposefully or unintentionally work to maintain the status quo while the celebrity literally goes down the tubes (e.g., Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson??)
- Rarely do they stay in treatment long enough and persistently enough to make lasting meaningful change or address the underlying unresolved emotional and psychological issues that are the silent generators of their addictive behavior and lead to repeated relapses, if left unresolved.
- Many celebrities have severe trauma histories and come from dysfunctional families that create a toxic legacy which must be adequately addressed through in-depth ongoing treatment if they are to maintain lasting recovery. Just going to AA meetings is rarely by itself enough. And their schedules (and visibility) often do not permit consistent involvement in either AA or treatment.
The dramatic treatment failures among celebrity addicts get the most media attention. Those who quietly recover and do so meaningfully and effectively often stay below the radar and their stories tend not to attract as much attention.
- There are many cases where celebrities have successfully recovered from addiction. The public simply doesn`t hear about them.
It is important to keep in mind that no single treatment method or treatment episode will guarantee success in recovery. No matter how good the treatment program may be, no matter how expensive or exclusive it may be. Most addiction treatment programs in the U.S. follow a "one size fits all" cookie-cutter approach that often does not fit the needs, circumstances, and mentality of high-functioning people. A combination of individually-tailored treatment and more importantly having sufficient motivation to change is likely to produce the best results.
By ARNOLD M. WASHTON, PH.D.
New York, NY and Princeton, NJ
Private Addiction Treatment for Executives and Professionals
The INSTITUTE FOR EXECUTIVE RECOVERY
West Palm Beach, FL
Judyth Piazza and Dr. Arnold M. Washton Discuss Alcohol and Drug Abuse on The American Perspective