Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Addiction in Public

After being on vacation and removing myself almost completely from any mainstream media, I picked up our daily NY newspaper yesterday to read the cover story of Tatum O Neal and her recent alleged drug buying woes.

With all the media outlets today, it's easy to be judgemental toward people who are very public and suffering the same addiction problems that afflict millions of people in the privacy of their own homes. One reads about young and old celebrities who are out of control and publicly battling their own demons. And we, as readers, are privy to journalistic slants and bias towards these over exposed figures. The media and our entertainment centric culture seem to blow out these addictions. For example, the article I read regarding Tatum cites her unstable upbringing and faulty marriage. It goes on to write about how she lied to the police about playing a movie part. Drama. Drama Drama. All I know is that when I read this article, I saw a person who made a wrong choice during the on-going daily (and sometimes hourly) battle to stay sober. Chances are, any person who suffers sustained addiction problems has lived in remarkable dysfunction on many levels. To be sober and clean is the most personal struggle there is.

And that is what, if there a need to cover these people in the news, should be the focal point of the article. Yes, she is a public figure. Yes, there are consequences to being famous in an all consuming media society. But, there is a real need for someone to stop and say, "here is a person who battles EVERY day and right now she's losing", how do we address this in the most altruistic and constructive way possible for the millions of readers who suffer the SAME problems privately? Couldn't one outlet write something supportive? To any of these people, famous or not?

Again, I read the antics of the young celebrities and cringe. It's easy to fault them when the information is in front of you. But, those antics often lead to worse issues that eventually manifest themselves into real addiction problems. And people vicariously live through their failures reassuring themselves that they are okay. When one goes to rehab, the articles and news focus on what they ate and how horrible it is that they are there. In reality, famous or not, this is a never ending battle. What we go through and how we deal with our demons is so very subjective. And no one knows what happens behind closed doors, famous or not.

The next time you read one of these crazy stories about a public figure, think about what they may be going through. Think about what all the people you DON'T read about must go through. Anonymity is a luxury these days and the more addiction is publicly accepted and understood, the easier it may be for one person, famous or non-famous, to get help.


david santos said...

I loved this post and this blog.
Happy week.

Anonymous said...

Hello from New Zealand! I sometimes ponder how my life would read if written tabloid style and how or if it would feed my addiction.

I only chanced on your blog yesterday and have copied your 'Sobriety Girl' opening statement, laminated it, and stuck it to the sun visor in my car to let it soak in like a sponge at the beginning and end of each day.

I like your style and join you on your crusade to change perceptions. This is the hardest and most rewarding journey of my life. I'm receiving a lot of inspiration from the sharing of your journey.

Kia Kaha Wahine (Maori language for 'Stay Strong Woman')