Ending Addiction for Good

Celebrities and Treatment Resistant Addiction

“The key to treating the hopeless is developing hope.”

There is always a great deal of speculation about our treatment center. As an elite facility, we see more than the average share of high profile individuals and business professionals. With this group of clients, both the press and members of the public call constantly, asking for quotes or statements about medical concerns that are frankly privileged information between treatment professionals and those seeking their services. I do my best to be polite with these inquirers. But there are times when I want to share that it is these very kinds of invasive and inappropriate questions that actually make it harder for those seeking help to recover. “Don’t you realize,” I want to ask, “that your constant prying only hurts the people you are asking about, whose deaths you will bemoan as a tragic waste to which you are actively contributing?”

There is a type of addiction that is considered, “treatment resistant.” The celebrities that so many people ask about—the ones who go to rehab after rehab without getting better—often have this type of addiction. What is treatment resistant addiction? Simply put, it’s the category into which addicts are placed when they “try” to recover repeatedly, but do not and live in a near constant state of relapse.

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At my treatment center, we specialize in helping addicts who are considered “treatment resistant”—and we have a good track record of helping these people recover—about 700% better than “standard treatment”—which is attendance at 12 step meetings and no additional help.  How do we do it? We take away the treatment resistant label and help addicts come to believe that they have as much opportunity to recover as anyone else—so long as they make the CHOICE to recover. Yes, we provide top-notch treatment provided by the leading professionals in the industry, including a combination of therapies that work synergistically to promote recovery. Yet the difference that makes a difference with these individuals is the belief that they can recover.

Why do those who otherwise have everything going for them so often fail to recover from addiction?

Celebrities, along with other addicts who have been classed as “treatment resistant,” have come to believe that they are in every way special, and as such, the rules of life and recovery do not apply to them. In 12 step programs, you’d hear this thought process referred to as “terminal uniqueness.” It is a belief that you are so special, that you’ll literally kill yourself before you will “submit” to the process that it takes to find true recovery. Celebrities are particularly prone to this problem, as they are constantly catered to—their status and ability to earn money for a huge number of people being dependent on their “specialness.”

But having the ability to command that all your M&M’s be green or having thousands of people buy a certain hat because you wore it last week is actually a detriment in the area of recovery. To recover from addiction, the addict must open up to caring professionals to overcome the deep pain that drives the addiction. A person who believes s/he is so different, so special that s/he is “above it all,” has a very hard time letting down his/her guard and being real enough to allow recovery to take hold. These people often need longer stints in treatment than average— something their dependents and entourages are not keen on, because the stay in rehab means no money coming in for those who live off another’s fame. It can be those who love the celebrity most who pressure them to leave treatment prematurely.

Recovery from addiction is all about releasing the pain that keeps us from being our best selves. When a celebrity enters treatment, if you truly admire their contribution to society and/or artistic work, I encourage you to leave them alone for the course of their treatment. Don’t demand status updates on Twitter or follow rumors in the tabloids. This allows those working to save the lives of those you admire, their best chance to help.

Richard Taite is CEO and founder of the Cliffside Malibu Treatment Center in Malibu, California and co-author of the book Ending Addiction for Good.

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