In Patch Adams, he made me cry. In Mork and Mindy, he made me laugh. In Good Will Hunting, he made me believe. In absolutely everything he ever did, Robin Williams was a wizard, a trickster, and about four steps ahead and beyond everyone else on the screen. I am personally devastated by his loss. Especially when it was so preventable.
Reports suggest that Mr. Williams was in rehab in early July. As is often the case with individuals who have been in recovery for a long time and then relapse, accidental overdose and suicide are major risks. Mr. Williams needed more support than he got, and tragically, the world has yet again lost a brilliant actor and comedian.
Addiction treatment and all co-occurring disorders such as clinical depression deserve the latest, best treatment available in 2014. Why did Mr. Williams check himself into a 1980s-style, 12-step, bare-bones rehab? Was it just because of name recognition?
The thing is, depression and brilliance and addiction can so often be part of the same package. When they are, it becomes a skilled dance to disentangle the aspects of brilliance that a person wants to keep from the depression and addiction that will almost inevitably pull that shining light down too soon. These are not 1980s skills. This is the cutting edge of today’s addiction treatment.
You can’t treat addiction without treating the underlying mental health conditions that cause it. All the evidence points to the same thing; you have to treat co-occurring psychiatric disorders, such as depression, at the same time as you treat addiction. Failure is almost inevitable if this treatment is not simultaneous. The same is true of anxiety or PTSD. These things can’t be compartmentalized because if you leave one, the others grow.
Richard Taite is founder and CEO of Cliffside Malibu, offering evidence-based, individualized addiction treatment based on the Stages of Change model. He is also co-author with Constance Scharff of the book Ending Addiction for Good.