Addiction Respects Nothing and No One


I’m not a media hound or someone that has an interest in the lives of celebrities. I don’t know Ms. Lindsay Lohan or her family but when I saw this picture that has been in the news for the last few days, I have been haunted by the expression on Ms. Lohan’s face.

This is the face of every parent’s child that has a problem with drugs or alcohol. This is not the face of a celebrity or movie star. This is not the face of a rich starlet messing up one more time. This is the face of someone’s daughter that has a drug and alcohol problem. I’ve seen that face in my son. I see the fear and the panic of a person being forced into a situation that requires being face-to-face with their problem. But simply being face-to-face with the issue isn’t the answer; addicts live with their addiction every day. The unfortunate reality is that until the addict faces the reality of their addiction nothing changes — they back down and the addiction wins another day.

Quoting a friend, Barbara, who also has a son addicted to prescription drugs, “I’m sure many people watching were disgusted with her and see her as a spoiled celebrity that thinks she is above the law and deserves special treatment.” That may be the opinion of many but the truth is: she is an addict and addiction has no respect for a person’s wealth, status or celebrity. Addiction can strike anyone.

I hear so many people not familiar with addiction make up excuses or summarize it simply as “all she has to do is just quit.” People also make up reasons why a person like her does drugs like, “celebrity lifestyle.” Quoting my friend again, “It doesn’t matter why she started using drugs; once you are hooked, it is too late to change your mind. That’s when your problems build one upon the other and the more problems you have, the more you need your drugs to cope. If you are an opiate addict you need your drug just to keep from puking your guts up every morning…you need it to be “normal”. I’m not excusing Lindsay’s behavior, just trying to shed some light on the fact that she is incapable of living a responsible, honest life at this point.”

Addiction is complicated. Look at the picture again. This young lady is in pain, look at her face. This isn’t the face of a celebrity; this is the face of an addict. This is the face of another father’s daughter that is hurting. There is no difference when I look into the face of my son or the faces of thousands of other parents when they look into their son’s and daughter’s faces.

Instead of using Ms. Lohan as just another gossip rag celebrity, let’s remember she needs help just as thousands of other addicts do. Addiction knows no boundaries.

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    Patti Herndon

    July 31, 2010 at 6:45 AM

    As I read this post…for me the unmistakable message is how critical it is for us all to utilize empathy in how we formulate decisions on how we will respond to and interact with those challenged with addiction….moment by moment…day by day. Our stated (and unstated) views, thoughts and feelings about the disorder of addiction, as well as our beliefs about those who are addicted, contribute to the formulation of a collective societal perspective. That collective conviction ultimately impacts the advancement pace, as well as the quality, of available treatment and treatment access for so many families and individuals in need.

    I believe in a day when an addicted individual won’t be getting that life-changing “help” via an experience of incarceration. We will have a system in place that helps families navigate addiction in such a way that will drastically reduce the occurrence of addiction-driven escalations to crime as a result of their symptoms and choices. But until that day arrives, jail is the best hope, in some cases, at saving life and facilitating a different, healthier pattern of coping.

    I believe Lindsay can shift the current in her life. The more healthy, encouragement and goal-driven support she receives in tandem with her pursuit of up to date addiction education and evidence based treatments regarding her challenge, the faster the present tide of chaos will recede and a healthier life will have opportunity to emerge.

    Every person has a unique coping response and our coping responses can be relearned/retrained/rebooted. It’s hard work for anyone…and especially difficult for someone challenged with addiction. We can help Lindsay by remaining hope-filled and vocal about the reality that she can shift her current sooner rather than later. That’s what we are doing in offering up our hopes for her here on Intervene. Even if she doesn’t know of the support she is receiving through this post…I believe the good will contained here will help her…and others.

    I appreciated the “walking in someone else’s shoes” spirit in this post. “Empathy”…Therein can be found the key to opening more and more doors to better and better treatments, development of a standard of care that serves to empower families and individuals as they face the challenge of addiction.

    Great post!

    Addiction is the journey. Recovery is the destination.

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