Addiction in Society

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

Drew Barrymore, Sober Winemaking Newlywed

How did Drew Barrymore become both sober and a vintner?

You remember that Drew Barrymore appeared on the cover of People in 1989 (January 16), age 13, as America's youngest addict. She had been in rehab, and now confessed, "I'm Drew, and I'm an addict-alcoholic," and was embarked on recovery. She subsequently relapsed, attempted suicide, and re-entered rehab, then went to live with famed musician ex-addict David Crosby because, he said, she "needed to be around some people that were committed to sobriety." Her 1990 memoir, Little Girl Lost, published when she was 15, described her struggle into recovery.

Of special interest to me in the People article was expert psychiatrist Dr. Derek Miller, who ran a program for adolescents, who explained Barrymore's alcoholism and addiction: "although there is nothing available clinically to test for genetic dependence," Dr. Miller admitted, "parents should be very careful to keep their children off of all alcohol if there is a history of either alcoholism or biologically based depression in the family." In other words, Drew inherited her alcoholism-addiction from her substance-abusing parents and forebears (like grandfather John Barrymore).

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The key for Dr. Miller was clear: "Abstinence is the key to all treatment." Although, he added, "the younger the adolescent, the harder it is for them to understand they have a problem." You know, the problem that they were born addicts-alcoholics, a destiny they can never escape. In Dr. Miller's view, it was thus great that Drew had accepted that destiny for herself at age 13, even if she did relapse and attempt suicide.

Flash forward. Drew, age 37, is in People again. No, I'm not talking about her recent superstar wedding. I mean this, in the June 4 issue:

Drew Barrymore: She's a Vintner! 

Barrymore, 37, unveiled her eponymous pinot grigio at the Nantucket Wine Festival....  [Drew has] "lots of knowledge and was passionate about her wine," said a festival attendee.

I don't know about you, but I'm beginning to suspect that Drew isn't as active as she once was around her recovery. Nothing daunted, the recovery world still tries to claim Drew as one of its own, comme ci, from the Orchid Recovery Center:

Drew Fights For Sobriety And Keeps It

Though Drew certainly went through some very rough years, she seems to have kept her sobriety for a long time. Though she has done some quirky and questionable things as a celebrity, there have been no reports of her relapsing into drug use. She seems to have found good work that matches her talents, service and charity efforts she believes in, and good people around her.

And what about the winemaking, Orchid? You can tell Orchid isn't entirely comfortable with "quirky" Drew, who married in a traditional Jewish ceremony (her husband, art dealer Will Kopelman's, faith) in which the couple stepped on wine glasses. As for the hard-earned sobriety Orchid claims for Drew, well, it depends how you define "sobriety." (You know that "sober" means not being intoxicated, right, not abstinence?)

Of course, we need to talk about Drew's life in all of this. She successfully transitioned to become a mature actress after her childhood stardom, became a director and formed her own production company, is a notable philanthropist concerned with world hunger, became a model and spokesperson for CoverGirl and Gucci, and won a Golden Globe in 2010 for her role in the minseries Grey Gardens. And she is marrying the father of her expected child.

Very impressive. Oh, which do I mean, her life and career or her "sobriety?" Or are those two the same? We need to ask this because they couldn't beat Drew into the recovery mold. And that's a good thing, isn't it?

Stanton Peele has been at the cutting edge of addiction theory and practice since writing, with Archie Brodsky, Love and Addiction in 1975. He has developed the on-line Life Process Program, and has now written (with Ilse Thompson), Recover! Stop Thinking Like an Addict and Reclaim Your Life with The PERFECT Program. He can be found online on Google+, Facebook, and Twitter.

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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