SBB was sad to see that celebrities Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan got arrested again for drug possession and drug use. This is an old story by now—a celebrity gets in trouble over and over again for substance abuse, their most recent mug shot is on every gossip Web site, they go into rehab for a few days or a week. Repeat cycle.
In 2006, Paris Hilton was arrested and charged with drinking and driving. She was given probation, but then sentenced to jail for violating her probation. In July 2010, she was detained in South Africa for possession of marijuana, but the case was dropped. And most recently, she was arrested in Las Vegas, when officers witnessed a bag of cocaine fall out of her handbag. The 29-year-old agreed to a plea deal for a fine and community service. She also has to complete a drug rehabilitation program, instead of a 1-year jail sentence.
And then there’s Lindsay Lohan. In mid-September 2010, less than a month after being granted an early release from rehab, Lindsay was arrested after she failed a pair of court-mandated drug tests.
The 24-year-old actress could face another 30 days in jail for violating her probation. On Twitter, Lindsay wrote, “Substance abuse is a disease, which unfortunately doesn’t go away overnight.” She has checked herself back into rehab—her fifth trip in 3 years.
All this brings up the question we hear a lot at NIDA: why don’t celebs seem to learn from their mistakes?
Recovery Takes Time
Celebrities are no different from anyone else. When you add drugs to the equation, it is harder to make good decisions and get back on the right path.
It takes a long time to get clean and stay clean. Here are some things people who want to stop using drugs can do.
A person who uses drugs often needs professional treatment to quit using. This can include medication or "talk therapy" (PDF, 1.19 MB)
, or a combination of both.
The science shows that cravings never go away for good, especially when certain “triggers” happen. Your brain remembers the “high” from the drugs and certain experiences can trigger cravings that are hard to control—like seeing a person using cocaine or smelling a marijuana cigarette.
Find new friends.
It’s important to stop spending time with friends who use drugs. Paris Hilton, for example, was with her boyfriend at the time of her arrest. He was behind the wheel of an SUV when police reportedly smelled marijuana. He failed a field sobriety test and was also arrested.
If you’re trying to stay off drugs, hanging out with people who use or in places where drugs are used is not going to get you there. Even if you stop using and get counseling and treatment, it is important not
to hang out with your old friends who are still using.
Roxy Olin’s Story
Some celebrities who have had problems with drugs or alcohol are great role models for being in recovery. At the press conference launching Recovery Month
2010, sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Roxy Olin—an actress on MTV’s “The City” and ABC’s “Brothers and Sisters”—spoke about her drug addiction and her time in rehab. She was there for 9 months and has been in recovery for 3 years. Her parents are supportive, she goes to AA, and she works hard at her recovery.
If you or someone you know needs treatment for drugs or alcohol, visit SAMHSA’s online treatment facility locator
To learn more about addiction, see NIDA’s publication, Drugs, Brains, and Behavior—The Science of Addiction.
“I’m an addict,” Lindsay Lohan told Oprah in a recent interview.
The actress is speaking publicly about her commitment to recovery from drug and alcohol abuse—after 6 visits to rehab, a stint in jail, 2 drunk driving arrests, and 7 car accidents. This time, LiLo insists, she’s going to stay away from drugs and alcohol.
Beating addiction isn’t easy. Addiction is a disease that causes people to continually seek and use drugs—even when they know the results are dangerous and drug use can change the brain. In fact, the definition of addiction is that people continue to use drugs despite negative consequences.
Many factors may have led Lindsay to use drugs and get addicted. Her family life wasn’t easy: Her parents divorced, and her father has said he’s an alcoholic and spent time in jail for various crimes. Though it’s not a guarantee, children of parents who are addicted to drugs are more likely to become addicted themselves.
Lindsay has openly admitted that her home life was quite chaotic. She thinks drinking alcohol helped to recreate the chaos of her family as she got older. Oprah asked, “Do you think you are—or were—addicted to chaos?”
“I think so. It was a comfortable chaos for me,” Lindsay replied.
People can’t actually be “addicted” to chaos the way they are addicted to drugs—Oprah’s phrase was a figure of speech. But researchers have found that a chaotic home environment “primes the brain” for addiction. Lots of studies show that a challenging family life mixed with drugs and alcohol makes quitting drugs difficult, and not just for celebrities.
As a young movie star, Lindsay moved to Hollywood on her own. Without a stable family, she felt all the ups and downs that every teen goes through. And, she felt the pressure of living under the spotlight of celebrity.
The good news is, drug abuse treatment can be effective when the person is ready to make a change and has the support of friends and family.
Today, Lindsay says she is on the road to recovery. She acknowledged she didn’t like what drinking did to her. “I’m in a different headspace now,” the actress said.
The actress is not alone. It is common for people to fall back into drug use. Relapse rates for addiction are a lot like relapse rates for other diseases, like asthma or high blood pressure. Relapse doesn’t mean treatment failed. Learning to live without drugs or alcohol takes time and practice.
Do you think Lindsay’s on the right track this time? What advice would you give a friend who is struggling with addiction? Tell us in comments.