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Substance Abuse Among Celebrities

Who is affected?

Addiction does not discriminate against gender, race, culture, religion, or socioeconomic status. Many famous people from television, movies, politics, social media, etc. have been addicted to various substances. According to statistics from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 22.7 million Americans need drug or alcohol treatment. For many celebrities within our society, their addiction struggles are played out publically along with their recovery and then their relapse.

Why celebrities?

Studies have shown that some personality traits that make a good successful person, one who is a risk-taker, has a strong drive for success, obsessive, dedicated, and novelty-seeking are also seen in individuals who have a substance abuse disorder. These qualities use the same pathways that affect the reward and pleasure center in the brain for both addicts and successful people. Many celebrities have a strong work ethic and high drive for success and when mixed with certain societal pressures and unhealthy relationships, it can lead to a recipe for disaster. Whether they are actors, athletes, politicians, musicians, inventors or well-known CEOs, celebrities live in the public spotlight and are often criticized harshly for their weight, how they dress, their opinions, and their everyday appearances. Peer pressure whether it’s from the general public, classmates or from friends is known to have a huge impact on the development of eating disorders, mental health disorders and substance abuse disorders. When a celebrity’s life is fully exposed and they have limited privacy, it can create an immense amount of stress and the need for perfection. Additionally these celebrities struggle with fame, increased wealth, and exercise (especially athletes) which can activate the dopamine reward system in their brains, similar to drug addiction responses. Celebrities and athletes alike may become ‘addicted’ to that high, and turn to available resources of drugs to replicate that high when it fades.

From rappers to movie stars

Eminem, one of the highest-selling rap artists of all time nearly died from a methadone overdose in 2007. For years, Eminem was addicted to various pills and other drugs, including methadone. He was taking up to 60 Valium and 30 Vicodin pills a day and was addicted to the prescription sleep medication Ambien, which made him suffer significant memory loss. The rap star entered rehab in 2005 and recovered for sometime. However, a knee surgery later threw him off of sobriety. Eminem returned to rehab. He’s been sober since 2008 and hopes to encourage other recovering addicts through his experience.

Kelly Osbourne began battling her drug addiction at the age of just 16. The star was 13 when she was prescribed Vicodin during a routine operation of tonsils removal. That was the first time she tried Vicodin. It was at 16, however, when she developed a habit, after being offered similar pills by an acquaintance. Kelly’s addiction took a serious turn when her mother, former X Factor judge Sharon, was diagnosed with cancer in 2002. Kelly explains that Vicodin abuse at that time was in efforts to stay strong and “hide the terrible sadness.”

Other celebrities who have overcome prescription painkillers are musician Travis Barker who struggled with an addiction to painkillers and depression. He gained sobriety in 2011. Bradley Cooper, actor, also struggled with alcohol and painkiller addiction and recovered by 2012. Sadly the list goes on and on filled by actors, actresses, singers, politicians, athletes, television personalities and comedians who have battled with substance addiction or even had their lives cut short by due to overdose.

Seeking treatment

Regardless of you social status, substance abuse does not discriminate and can be triggered by many underlying causes. Professional treatment is highly recommended regardless of the severity and duration of your battle with addictive substances. Professional treatments focuses on easing withdrawal symptoms in addition to providing psychotherapy approaches that will arm you with healthy coping skills to prevent and deal with future cravings.

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