Whitney Houston was a remarkable talent…voice of a generation…great cultural loss, however; no lack-of-respect intended, but “yada, yada, yada.” I’ve just sat through Anna Nicole Smith, Michael Jackson, Heath Ledger, Lindsay Lohan, Demi Moore, etc. Please do not get me wrong. Within the hour of news of her death I was on my private Facebook page shocked and commenting about how her music had impacted my life. And I am deeply glad that her family, friends and church are able to honor her with the great dignity she deserves.
But if life is a circus, I am seated on the official cultural sidelines in the Psychology Section, back in the cheap seats of the arena where the Addictions Counselors (they rarely make more than $20K) sit. I am thinking of Ms. Houston as a role model again…and all the church choir girls with good voices and dreams of making it big who have looked to her for inspiration. They will all have their neighborhoods, drug temptations, their ‘Bad Boy’ boyfriends and they won’t have had her survival to know that they can beat the odds. It is not something professional discuss much, but when a big pop star dies …so many people seem to lose a tiny bit of hope, like a ripple effect.
We are losing an awful lot of our brightest and most beautiful to harmful pharmacology. The idea that if you are feeling too anxious – take this pill, too depressed – take that one, can’t sleep – take another. And what do you mean alcohol and pot are drugs too? Only designer water and the best trainer for their abs, but popping pills, a Redbull, a whiskey shot, and some steroids isn’t gonna cost physically? For a group of people who wouldn’t drive their fancy cars they way they ‘drive’ their bodies…it seems so bizarre to those who try to help those who become stuck in harmful patterns. *Sometimes medications are lifesavers and I’d never knock those who need them and use them properly.
Recently, I’ve been fascinated recently by reports of Daniel Radcliffe, who by script of money and fame, did go the way of alcohol at a young age. In an interview with British GQ, the 21-year old actor revealed that alcohol became a problem.”I became so reliant on alcohol to enjoy stuff,” he admits, “there were a few years there when I was just so enamored with the idea of living some sort of famous person’s lifestyle that really isn’t suited to me.” Radcliffe now lives a productive and contented life by avoiding alcohol consumption completely. What makes him so sensible and others so driven by their insecurities and addictions?
Alas, that is a question too deep for this brief article, but a good one to keep asking of self and others. I enjoy watching HLN’s Dr. Drew Pinsky and CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta attempts to answer such questions on a regular basis, as they bring useful science to their viewers beyond the sensational news bites. Addiction is a complicated societal issue to impact all facets and could incite blame from any aspect: Insurance Industry, Big Pharma, Chemists, Dealers, Doctors, Therapists, Education System, Media, Posses, Bartenders, Families, Addicts ,…while the most important solution is personal responsibility.
These are the matters which keep those of us who observe life from the ‘Psychology Section’ curious and working hard on ways to keep people safe and healthy. I hope folks can learn from Whitney Houston’s tragic mistakes that help isn’t in a bottle, it is with your doctor, nurse, therapist, 12 Step Group, yoga instructor, and supportive loved ones.