Addiction in Society

Addiction—the thematic malady for our society—entails every type of psychological and societal problem

News Item: Top Entertainment Figure and Ball Player Not Alcoholics or Addicts!

News item: some athletes and child actors aren't addict-alcoholics!

Daniel Radcliffe -- looking good at 21
Daniel Radcliffe's recent announcement that, in his late teens, as he starred in the runaway hit Harry Potter movies, he was a flaming alcoholic, caught some people up short.  

Like co-star Emma Watson, who worked cheek by jowl with the young actor through the long, harrowing filming of the eight movies.  On David Letterman, Watson declared:

"To be honest, it's really not something that I genuinely know much about," she told David Letterman on the Late Show Monday night. "But as far as I know, he never took a sick day. He was like the most professional, amazing guy ever."

Stupid girl!  Just because someone shows up fit to work through long grueling days doesn't prove they're not addicted -- it just means they've covered it up well.

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But -- thanks be to God -- Radcliffe has recovered!  At age 21, he now knows he is an alcoholic and that he can never drink again.  Saved!

Well, actually, Radcliffe wasn't an alcoholic that long -- maybe for a year:

Radcliffe, 21, admits his lifestyle became an issue on the set of 2009 film Harry Potter  and the Half-Blood Prince. He went on to claim he has not touched alcohol since August 2010, shortly after completing work on the final Potter production.

Doesn't Radcliffe's case fit well with these discoveries by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism?

  • Most persons who develop alcohol dependence have mild to moderate disorder, in which they primarily experience impaired control.
  • About 70 percent of affected persons have a single episode of less than 4 years.
  • Although 22 is the average age when alcohol dependence begins, the onset varies from the mid-teens to middle age.
  • Twenty years after onset of alcohol dependence, about three-fourths of individuals are in full recovery; more than half of those who have fully recovered drink at low-risk levels without symptoms of alcohol dependence. (Let's say Radcliffe lives to be 81.  Would you bet your life he won't drink again in the next 60 years?)
  • About 75 percent of persons who recover from alcohol dependence do so without seeking any kind of help, including specialty alcohol (rehab) programs and AA. Only 13 percent of people with alcohol dependence ever receive specialty alcohol treatment.

So Radcliffe's case fits squarely in the middle -- he's a typical alcoholic.  He doesn't mention going to treatment or joining AA, like that large majority.

+ + + +

But, then, who hasn't discovered -- and revealed -- that they possessed a secret addiction?  Not world champion boxer and media figure Sugar Ray Leaonard.  In a new book, Leonard reveals he was an alcoholic and addict.

His epic fight with Thomas Hearns was 30 years ago this September, which brings back some sweet memories for Sugar Ray Leonard.

"Without question my most defining moment, period," Leonard said. "That fight told me there is a reservoir of strength we all possess but very few can activate. I activated that thing and pulled it out. It was all heart and determination."

There's another upcoming anniversary just as important to Leonard. The anniversary of his biggest fight ever.

Come July 4 he will have been clean and sober for five years.

"My way was drinking and cocaine, which I did a lot," Leonard said. "Even a lot is not the right word to describe how much I consumed."

. . . .

It's all detailed in his new autobiography written with Michael Arkush, a book as candid as any you'll ever read from a former athlete. He even tells of being sexually abused by a coach while in the amateurs, something that has haunted him all his life and part of the reason he turned to alcohol and drugs.

He did it [I think this means revealed his problems] to sell books, yes. But it was also part therapy, baring his soul to help with a long and painful recovery.

+ + + +

Okay, so our young actors, our sports heroes are all around us succumbing to addiction and alcoholism.

Let's turn to the real news items.  That's right, Ed "Crawfish" Fisher -- former mediocre major league baseball player who seems never to have had any problems -- including with intrusive media, since he never batted over .230 in a season -- is NOT an alcoholic.

"I got drunk a few times as a ballplayer, sure," drawled Crawfish.  "But, alcoholic?  I don't know.  I have a beer or two today on a hot day.  But then my wife Lulu says, 'Ed (she won't call me Crawfish) -- look out -- you're gaining weight.'  So I usually put the bottle down then and there.  I don't think I've had three beers at one time since I quit playing ball."

And, finally, there's little Ricky Rucedo -- former child star in the series, "I'm a Punk With an Attitude."

"Yeah," Ricky intones, "I used to party with my posse.  But I gave that up when I couldn't get another acting job after 'Punk' and I became an insurance salesman.  You know, I don't even know where to get drugs any more."

"Plus I have a couple of kids."

Sigh -- I guess some people just don't know how to pen an interesting memoir.

Stanton Peele, PhD, JD, is the author of Recover! He has been a pioneer in the addiction field since publication of Love and Addiction in 1975.

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