In the past, drug rehabilitation was something that was typically carried out in secrecy. Drug addiction was to be swept under the rug and hidden from friends, family and  outsiders. All of that changed with the popularity of reality television.AandE

Shows such as A&E’s “Intervention”, HBO’s documentary series “Addiction” and “Celebrity Rehab” with Dr. Drew have centered in on the rehabilitation process and shown the world addicts from celebrities to the girl next door. In fact, even scripted television shows sometimes feature characters with drug addiction issues such as Dr. House on the TV show, “House.”

In the past, people were more ashamed of their addictions and didn’t want others to know but times have changed and some aren’t sure it’s for the better. Do these programs sensationalize the addiction and is it making it harder on the addicts to recover by being under the spotlight; some seem to think so.  So far, four celebrities have died after appearing on “Celebrity Rehab” with Dr. Drew. Some might point out that perhaps these people would have failed in their recovery anyway but some believe that the high expectations make it even harder for the addict to get clean. When there is a setback the addict may feel even more helpless being under the spotlight. Many even feel that it is an exploitation of the addict. Even though they are compensated for their time spent in rehab, it can be stated that the show is there for the ratings.

So does an addict have a better chance of recovery in or out of the spotlight? That question may never be answered and it may depend on the individual. However, being under the harsh lights of Hollywood may put extra stress onto a person that doesn’t need more stress in their lives. This stress and their coping mechanisms may be what lead to part of their addiction in the first place.

With the success of these shows, we may not see them going away any time soon and in some ways, it may help others that see success stories and feel that they can get the help they need as well and recover from addiction. And there are many success stories from these shows as well. Only time will tell if it is a good idea to spotlight these addictions or if they should be in private where the addict can get help without the outside influence of Hollywood.


1 Comment

AmyMarch 29, 2013 at 5:08 pm

I concur with Dennis and Scott that aiidctdon is a chronic condition. Assuming I worked at a public treatment center there are several things I would do to further the work of aligning this belief to what is actually practiced in our profession. Direct work with clients and families would include the education piece about how aiidctdon is like having cancer, not like having a really bad case of the measles. Framing the issue of chronic vs. acute this way is crucial to helping all involved take the long view of success. Group work with a mixed-stage set of clients over an extended number of sessions as in Weegmann and English, skyped or cell phone based assertive continuing care, in-person quarterly RMC’s, would all be woven into my practice (assuming my agency was supportive). Much systemic work is needed to spread this vital reframing of aiidctdon as a chronic condition. From an education standpoint, this concept and practice is not a hard shift to sell, but many of these shifts will cost money. When it comes down to dollars that is a different story. From all levels within the agency, to community, state and federal funding sources both education and advocacy is necessary. I am ready to sign up for the sustained push that is required for progress to be made. Taking these sytemic changes even further into the very critical need for overall change in our nation’s aiidctdon treatment and aftercare structure. Toward that end I agree with McClellan and Meyers and say increases in funding support are needed to implement best practices in treating adults, adolescents, those who are dually diagnosed and incarcerated.


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