A Word about Dear Lindsay Lohan

Posted: October 4, 2010 in Early sobriety
Tags: , , , , ,

As I write this, Lindsay Lohan (who will always be permenantly tweeny as a double-scoop of fun in the re-made Parent Trap) is eating lunch at the Betty Ford Clinic.  I, on the other hand, am about to lose mine just at the thought of writing something about the scuzz-sucking world of Hollywood.  But, I fear I must:  anyone with a substance-abuse problem who accidently watches any entertainment news is bound to identify (or not) with poor little LiLo.  All addicts have a lot in common.  The difference is that while Lindsay is given an hour’s worth of chores in the morning by Betty Ford staff, the toilets I clean are my family’s.  The only lock-down I have is my girlfriend taking away my keys… ahhhh Nurse!  Most addicts can’t af-Ford Betty’s clinic–which provides a sort of drunkard’s version of Navy SEAL S.E.R.E. training–and have to make do with AA, self-help books and, for some, detoxing in the pokey (no fun, I hear).   

I don’t want to speculate on Lohan’s chances for recovery.  It’s not fair, and everyone’s doing it anyway.  I will say in passing that I don’t think anyone around her has anything but disincentive for letting her hit rock bottom.  I suspect she’ll keep faking her way into the grave, thanks in no small part to her “friends and family.”  And I dare you to watch an entertainment show that doesn’t refer to her “problem” (or any other celebrity addict’s) as the need for “image re-hab.”  In one throw-away pun, these spots can render disingenuous any claim for real rehabilitation, all the while opining that they hope the celebrity will “get better soon.”

Mel Gibson’s so-called “plight” is the same.  After two decades of admitted alcoholism, his “friends” have only begun to reject him when his despicable private behavior has been publicized, thus potentially tainting their reputations along with his.  (Don’t get me wrong.  His racist craziness won’t be extirpated by sitting in a circle, but that’s not my point here.  It’s that his friends bail only when they get associated with the craziness.)

And that’s what I find disgusting.  It’s not that we spend all this time salivating over celebrity addiction–and we do, because who doesn’t like to see the mighty fall?  It’s that when the media does this, “journalists” give themselves license to treat addiction like a moral failing and the addict like a weak person, and very often the butt-end of a big, ongoing joke.   Everything we have tried to learn about the complexity of addiction flies out the window everytime another celebrity is pulled over for DUI.  The effect of this pernicious, self-righteous, misleading attitude trickles down to everyday, non-celebrity sufferers and their friends and families.  Lohan and Gibson and I have been taught that if we can just “fake” sobriety, if we can be “functional,” everything will be just fine–because admitting to the addiction makes us look morally bankrupt, weak of will, and just stupid.  Even my own mother can’t fathom it:  “What do you mean?” she asked me after my last relapse.  “Are you telling me that you’re just powerless?”  (If you didn’t know already, admitting powerlessness is the first step of the AA Twelve-Step program.)

We do, perhaps, talk too much about celebrity addiction.  But the real shame is that we don’t talk enough about addiction itself to make these pop culture examples worth paying attention to in the first place.  We miss opportunity after opportunity, even though people are dying out there without a snazzy headline to glitz up their funerals.

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