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Celebrities Leading Addiction Transparency

I was asked if the transparency of celebrities who are suffering with addiction has had an impact on the addicted individuals and their families in the way of treatment and moving forward in life. Here are my thoughts.

I have been working with addiction for over 30 years. What I have seen at the core of all people suffering with addiction is the shame and absence of belonging. So, overall, when someone with social popularity openly presents their personal struggle with addiction, recovery and life, it offers them reprieve from shame and the opportunity to see that their sense of not belonging can exist in anyone. With this as a basis to the understanding of this possible phenomenon, let me list several ways the transparency of celebrities may directly affect those suffering from addiction.

Celebrities are diverse in their cultural and social backgrounds. Therefore, they cross the spectrum of people who find themselves trapped by the challenge of addiction. Our celebrities range from actors to musicians to athletes and more. They come from a diverse background of culture, socioeconomic beginnings, family structure, and social acceptance. Children, adolescents and adults can identify with someone who is a celebrity because of this diversity.

Celebrities are leaders. Leaders who are transparent and genuine create forward thinking, confidence, and ownership in others. As leaders, their transparency is clearly helping to create those characteristics in families of addicts and addicts themselves. They are thinking of ways that they can gain healing from the challenge of addiction and they open themselves to possibilities.

Celebrities have family and friends. Their transparency has allowed for people to see how addiction may enter one person but truly affects all of those around them (team, band, family, friends, fans). They realize the whole family or more must join the idea of recovery. For example, a newly recovered person must be supported by friends and not thrown back into the party scene. Celebrities’ lives have shown that level of support and more.

Celebrities represent success and capability. Their transparency offers the acceptance of addiction among the successful. It also offers the person struggling with addiction the opportunity to imagine being successful once they are beyond drugs and alcohol. Further, because they see continued success and likability in the celebrity, they feel a relief from being socially ostracized and judged for being an addict.

Celebrities have life after addiction and through recovery. They are, consequently, helping families see beyond addiction so that addiction doesn’t feel like an end point in life. The reality of life after addiction is critical to the individuals and families of addiction.


Yuletide Anxiety?

I have met many people who feel anxiety, or feel their anxiety increase, as the holidays take hold. For some, it can be disabling. For many others it is in response to their relationships, stressors, and/or external expectations. Let’s look at several examples.

  • Many dating couples who are struggling to maintain their relationship choose to avoid breakups at this time of year because they do not want to hurt the other person. This may seem like a kind decision but, in truth, it becomes a decision that lends to increased anxiety, frustration, and unhappiness.
  • Because anxiety is the flip side of depression, oftentimes people struggling with loneliness, loss or depression begin to get anxious about how they are going to function, or how they are going to get through the holidays.
  • There are many expectations that “you should spend the holidays with your family.” Family is the most challenging environment for most people because it is the primary source of our challenges. That is by design!
  • Often, couples feel they want to experience a loving romantic time with their partner but find there is a conflict in how that is going to happen. They may also feel it’s a futile wish when a conflict ensues. This can trigger anxiety due to the disruption in love and acceptance.
  • Many people think they are anxious about their financials but truly this is coming from the expectations they perceive. They think they have to buy certain gifts, serve certain meals, throw certain parties. None of those experiences are true gifts or expressions of the individual if they are creating stress in order to “do or be good enough”. The same is true when the gifts given are causing anxiety for the giver. One of the most common causes of anxiety is the fear of not being good enough.
  • Because of the social expectations, many people will travel. For those with anxiety about flying or travel this can be particularly difficult and even a double bind. For others, it can be a time of stress that leads to anxiety.
  • If there has been a loss, anxiety may increase or present itself. We may become more aware of the absence of a loved one. This is especially true if it was a traumatic loss.
  • Some will experience anxiety because of taking time away from work or not being able to take time away from work. It may be a business owner who does not trust that the business can survive on it’s own. So he or she feels their anxiety increase. Anxiety may also come from a person who is afraid to ask for time off or for a person who has to work and feels the loss or loneliness of not being with others to celebrate.
  • Finally, some people actually feel anxiety increase as they recognize another year has passed. This can be disabling for some. It may trigger the fear that life is short. It may also trigger fears that result from goals that weren’t met. There are numerous triggers onto which anxiety can grab and then spin a person’s thoughts with fear.

    In conclusion, there are many events, experiences, or symbols that can trigger anxiety. During the holidays those triggers can be pronounced or multiplied thereby affecting more and more people. If you or someone you love experiences some anxiety, remind them to breathe and to focus on their breath going in and out. Sit with them as they breathe like that for 10 breaths. As they feel some relief, begin moving forward without a conscious focus on the anxiety but a focus on a solution to the holiday stressors instead.

    For more information on anxiety in general, please see previous blog articles:
    Anxiety: What is it, what causes it, what to do about it? Part 1
    Anxiety: What is it, what causes it, what to do about it? Part 2
    Anxiety: What is it, what causes it, what to do about it? Part 3

    Dealing With Addiction During The Holidays


    Holidays can be very difficult for those who are in recovery, those who know people who drink or party too much and see it increase at this time, and for those who are using and feel the need to use more during this time. How do we help those who we love? How do we help our Self? What are the signs of a situational experience versus an addictive pattern?


    The holidays are a time for family and friends to gather. So, it is a time of celebration and parties. But, it is also a time to feel the absence of acceptance, the loneliness, the family patterns that send your emotions reeling, and so much more!


    If someone you know is suffering from any of the emotional challenges and has a problem abusing substance, this time of year can be a fire ball. That person may feel a need to run to the most secure relationship in her or his life — the bottle or drug.


    For many in recovery, this can also be a challenging time because of the myriad emotional, environmental, social, and physical triggers. It is a time for feeling the true camaraderie with fellow recovering persons. Yet, can also be a time when that person may feel the difference and, consequential, loneliness.


    If you are someone who quietly feels you are drinking too much or using drugs too much, this may be a time of year that further frustrates you. Consequently, there will be an increase in the judgments you put upon yourself for not meeting expectations of quitting but, in fact, increasing your intake.


    Let’s all see if we can help each other feel love and acceptance at this time. This is a great time to ease someone into treatment IF they need it. When i worked at in-patient hospitals for substance abuse/addiction, we had a full house during the holidays and after…. Think about it. No one wants to suffer. Today, let’s think about our friends, family or self and ask what we can do to help them into recovery and freedom from suffering.


    For more on addiction and recovery, here are some of my past blog posts:

    Part One – Healing Addiction
    Part Two – Addiction and the Abuse Pattern
    Part Three – The Emotional Roller Coaster of Addiction

    Anxiety: What is it, what causes it, what to do about it? Part 2

    Welcome to Part 2 of this series on anxiety where we will look at causes of anxiety. Part 1 described anxiety and gave a simple description or feel of anxiety. If you missed the beginning of this series, you can find it by clicking here: PART ONE. This article will address how anxiety may be caused by environmental factors, medical factors, substance abuse, or a combination of these. Although it has been suggested there may be a genetic component in anxiety, this article will talk of environmental factors that may be more influential. Finally, the article will address that while anxiety is a response to outside forces and can be amplified with “negative self-talk” or a belief in the worry, rarely can an immediate trigger to anxiety be identified.


    The Emotional Roller Coaster of Addiction

    This post looks at some of the emotions of addiction — in the addict and in those who are in relationship with the addict/alcoholic.  Addiction enters through the person who is using but flows through to everyone in the addict’s or alcoholic’s life.  This is because of the abuse pattern (see previous blog entry). While all people around the world feel the same emotions, we will look at those emotions that are always a part of the addict’s or alcoholic’s life.  We will then look at the emotions of those people who are in the lives of the addict/alcoholic.


    Addiction and the Abuse Pattern

    I spoke briefly in my blog about addiction not being a choice or a weakness. I wanted to explore that in a series on addiction. This article introduces what the abuse pattern looks like. I will then address how an addict is seduced by the force of addiction and how that can lead to destruction in all aspects of the addict’s life. This destruction does not stop with the addict but affects all the addicts friends and loved ones. The series will then address how addiction can come in through one person but affect everyone around them as well.


    Healing Addiction

    In response to: Why is Addiction Still Considered a Personal Weakness?


    I have been successfully working with addicts for over 25 years. They certainly do NOT have a choice, nor is it a weakness. I will add that the same is true in ANY abusive/dependent relationship. An individual who finds their Self in an abusive relationship did not choose to be there nor is it weakness that keeps them there. It is fear. Abuse is abuse is abuse.


    The pattern remains the same. It is a pattern that is introduced early in life either by the alcoholic, addict, or abuser. The pattern is not being addressed by this country. So, it is increasing exponentially rather than subsiding. The addict adds to that the influence of genetics! I have yet to meet an addict who said, “Yes, Kristen, I awakened to my dream to be an addict!!” Not even in the midst of a high do they say that. This is clearly an illness, biological AND social! While it may seem to many as antithetical, the healing of the addiction brings forth the most magikal people I have met in this lifetime. We all must be careful of our judgments. It does not allow us to see the person beyond the pain and suffering.


    “We judge only in the way we are fearful of being judged.”


    Kristen Bomas, PA
    398 Camino Gardens Blvd., Suite 104
    Boca Raton, Fl 33432


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