Seems in past few months it is difficult to read a newspaper or watch the news without hearing that a public figure – be it a famous athlete, film actor, or professional musician – has checked into a drug rehabilitation clinic. The recent plight of Britney Spears serves as a prominent example of feeding such a media frenzy. We watch her antics and are quick to judge her actions, then shake our heads as she enters an addiction treatment facility, presumably to curb the same behaviors that make the news. For some, hearing of a celebrity entering rehab can be distressful news, particularly among those who look up to certain figures as a great influence, the personification of beauty and success. To see a hero fall can be disillusioning.
It is natural, too, to judge harshly those who make public their intentions to seek help for drug or alcohol addiction. As the middle class majority, we may harbor a bit of jealousy when it comes to celebrities. The beautiful people have it so easy, and get richer as we get poorer – this is one mentality people hold of celebrities. To learn of a famous person entering rehab may boost our own self esteem, and put us on a level playing ground with people who are otherwise viewed as infallible. To be certain, this is not exactly how one should approach such news.
Celebrities are human beings, the only thing that separates the famous from the obscure is the media presence that builds their legend. Most actors and musicians, sports figures and moguls, did not get to where they are by having everything handed to them. While one might argue that some famous people are so by virtue of birth, many do have to work to maintain their status in their respective industries. Actors on television programs may work ten to twelve hour days, while musicians must spend months at a time touring to promote albums. The energy expended can be great, as can be the pressures to live up to their respective images as built by the media and public expectations. And it happens on occasion that a celebrity may fall into a routine of drug or alcohol abuse as a method of coping with societal and work pressures.
To learn of a celebrity entering rehab should not be cause for jest, but a cause for hope. That such people recognize the need to seek professional help is a good sign, that once recovery is complete there may be more opportunity for movies, music, and sports. To acknowledge a celebrity is as human as you or I am may encourage the spirit to soar without the use of habit-forming substances.