Celebrity Rehab: Negative Influence Or Positive Role Model?

Celebrity Rehab: Negative Influence Or Positive Role Model?

Both it seems.At least that was the opinion of rehab influencers we surveyed.

I came upon the story of Tom Hanks’ son, Chester (successfully) undertaking a course of drug rehabilitation for his cocaine addiction.

You can read about it here.

It seems – perhaps rather shockingly – that the ‘poor lad’ started his drug career at the tender age of 16, and did not seek help until he was 24 years old — an eight year interval.

Perhaps rather unsympathetically of me, “Yet another celeb drug addiction” I thought to my self initially .

But we all know a lack of sympathy has no place in rehab work.

Ghee, I work in the rehab space and I know first-hand how powerful a course of residential rehabilitation can be… and folk’s cry for help can only be a good thing.

But hearing about cash rich celebrities abusing illegal drugs day-in-day out can lead one to conclude that such stories glamourize drug and alcohol use.

But does it really?

Or importantly does successful celebrity rehab stories provide positive role models to current addicts that there is indeed light at the end of this dark proverbial dark tunnel?

An Irrelevancy?

Maggie Telfer, CEO of Bristol Drugs Project in the United Kingdom, an organisation whose principal activity is to reduce alcohol and drug-related harm, argues celebrity drug use is an irrelevancy to most normal folk.

“Is Hanks Jnr glamorising drug use? I think not” Telfer said.

“People don’t start or continue using drugs or alcohol because they’re trying to emulate celebrities. And people running into grief because of drugs or alcohol don’t stop because of a celebrity’s success.”

“We live in a world where drugs are a fact of life and alcohol is everywhere. The key to avoiding grief is for young people to have good information to reduce risks, the confidence and skills to make their own decisions and knowing where to get help if they need it.”

“It’s a good time to remember that the biggest barrier to getting help is other people’s attitudes – usually prejudice- towards people who run into grief with drugs or alcohol. Talking about what is a very real problem can only help lower that barrier” said Telfer.

“The entertainment industry and journalists have a unique power to inspire attitude and behaviour change through authentic reporting of lived experiences.”

Good Headlines, Boring Headlines

 David Briskham of Twin Rivers Rehab, argues the media are only really interested headlines when it comes to drug addiction, and not about the rehabilitation process since it makes for poor headlines.

“Addiction treatment centres generally get poor press and the general public have quite a number of rehab ‘myths and legends’ in their minds which are collectively negative” Briskham said.

“A success story about a celebrity’s son going to rehab will probably be judged by many sceptics who would perhaps feel that this client could ‘afford’ first class treatment so of course he has done well!”

“Lindsay Lohan, Paul Gascoigne, Tony Adams, Robbie Williams, Ozzy Osbourne and a host of other celebrities have generated a lot of intense focus on addiction related matters through a lot of thoughtless and immature headlines which are designed to sell papers and magazines. All these stories are all based on just going in or out of rehab but there is rarely if ever a follow up!”

“The general public are not particularly interested in a person’s recovery journey as its not gory enough; have you ever read an article about anyone’s recovery? Probably not, unless it’s published in a book and so this impacts the general public in deepening their denial about what is realistically-a worldwide epidemic.”

“As an addictions therapist I am often asked-‘what is your success rate at Twin Rivers?’. This always makes me smile as it is actually a ridiculous question which prompts less scrupulous rehabs to profess excellent success rates in order to get clients into the rehab.”

“I have no idea how many ‘successes’ there are out there but I do know that there are a number of ex-clients whose lives have vastly improved over time. Recovery is a journey and not a destination and so recovery processes vary from addict to addict”.

“What, unfortunately makes matters worse is that most counsellors/therapists believe themselves to be experts! Everyone’s an expert! Personally, I believe all the experts are in the pub!

“There is a lot of denial globally which is exacerbated by the fact that many addicts are in management (including government) who of course do not want to accept or embrace in any way the true nature of addiction and the global impact. Minimising, immature magical thinking and denial keeps the facts at bay creating false ideals and what I have discovered as a big chunk of human nature – ‘actually no one really gives a f*#@k” Briskham said.

Brian Dyak, President ,CEO and Co-Founder, Entertainment Industries Council (EIC), a non-profit which provides information on health and social issues among the entertainment industries, argues celeb rehab successes is a positive thing.

“When someone in the public eye brings their story to the forefront, it allows others to better understand the realities of substance use disorders and to relate to the recovery process” said Dyak.

“When we treat the whole person, in unity with family we see treatment works and recovery is possible. These are the powerful messages that can be expressed to the public to encourage those in need to seek help and inspire hope.”

An Ambivalence You Can Be Certain About

Elan Morgan of Schmutzie feels celeb rehab stories have mixed effects on the opinions of the youth.

“When I was younger, I idolized deep addiction, watching ‘Sid and Nancy’ repeatedly while pretending to be dangerous with a cigarette in my mouth” said Morgan.

“I romanticized what I did not have direct experience with back then. Now after dealing with my own addiction and that of others, I find this kind of story hopeful. Perspective is everything.”

Let’s Be Fair 

Liam Mehigan, Service Manager at Abbeycare Foundation, UK based residential addiction treatment centre, argues one shouldn’t separate celebrities from the rest of us when it comes to recovering from an addiction. Instead, Mehigan argues, we should all be viewed as individuals, and he commends Chester’s honesty.

“Chester’s [hanks] honesty and forthright comments on his own recovery validate the importance of resolving the underlying emotional drivers behind addiction.”

“It’s refreshing to see an individual involved in the glamour-filled music industry recognising this… and truly accepting responsibility for the personal issues behind addiction – the issues that drive the need for a coping mechanism like cocaine in the first place.”

“To make this sort of admission, whether a celebrity or not, people need to separate themselves from group thinking, and group approval – and make a decision that their own sobriety and wellbeing matters more than status or popularity” concluded Mehigan, “naturally we champion this personal honesty as part of rehab, and in fact it’s an essential element of any long term recovery journey.”

Mitchell Giles, CEO of Lives Lived Well, an Australian drug and rehabilitation support service, agrees that celebrity rehab stories have a mixed influence on society’s views towards the subject.

“Media reports on celebrity rehab can have both positive and negative effects on communities, especially young people” said Giles.

“The negative effects of media reports result when young people observe their favourite celebrity misusing drugs and alcohol and start to regard that behaviour as ‘glamorous’ and associate it with fame and success.”

“They then may want to emulate that unhealthy lifestyle. It is a concern when young people aspire fanatically to be like a particular celebrity, even though that celebrity is participating in values and behaviours in conflict with social norms.”

“Media reports that depict celebrities coming in and out through the ‘revolving door’ of rehab, do not reflect well on the rehabilitation process as it perhaps suggests that these programs do not work.”

“Media reports need to be more realistic in their coverage of recovery from addiction, showing that it is a long process, requiring much commitment, quality aftercare and other agency and community support. Recovery also needs to address the causes behind dependency.”

“On the other hand, positive effects of media reports can result in reporting on a celebrity who has successfully overcome a chronic dependency through committed rehabilitation as it could encourage others to seek help. Media reports have also over time helped to reduce the stigma around accessing rehab and it is now seen as a more “fashionable” thing to do. They also demonstrate that despite success, fame and riches, people can still be affected by substance misuse – showing there are no boundaries to who can be affected.”

“If celebrities were to offer more in-depth stories that tell of all aspects of addiction and recovery, it would be more likely to inspire others, who idolise them and who may also be experiencing similar dependency issues, to seek help and address the causes behind their drug-taking behaviours.”

“In Australia, we have recently seen our celebrity swimmers conduct such dialogues in the media, which has been having a positive effect in helping to break down stigmas and provide greater insight and understanding of dependency and depression. Celebrities can lead the way on healthier media reporting” concluded Giles.


Well we hope you enjoyed this article and that you feel we’ve provided you with some fresh prospective.   It’s clear that celebrity rehab is indeed a positive thing at best, and at worst an irrelevancy… it depends who you ask!

Now It’s Your turn.

What side of the fence do you sit on? Do you feel celebrity rehab is an irrelevancy? Or do you feel it glamorises drug use? Or do you feel it provides positive feedback that rehab is a viable option to the ordinary drug user?

If you’re brave enough, add a comment below.

Nicholas Conn / 18th December 2019/ Posted in: Alcohol, Celebrity Rehab, Drugs

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Detoxification (detox) is the medical intervention required for someone who is physically dependent to drugs or alcohol. If required, medical detoxification would be the first step taken in residential rehab. Detox is used to prevent uncomfortable and dangerous (even fatal) withdrawals symptoms resulting in suddenly becoming abstinent from alcohol/certain drugs.

The goal of a medical detox is to aid in the physical healing required following long term addiction and rid the body of all together of substance whilst providing a cushion for unpleasant symptoms of withdrawals. Detox is not considered the whole treatment for drug/alcohol addiction and it is always recommended that a comprehensive rehabilitation program is used along side to help maintain long term abstinence.

Medication is often required for alcohol detox. If you are dependent on alcohol and experiencing withdrawal symptoms it is vitally important to seek medical advice prior to stopping. There is a long list of medications used when treating alcohol addiction and the exact medication given to an individual will depend on their needs/medical history. Some of these include;

  • Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
  • Lorazepam (Ativan)
  • Diazapam (vailium)

Librium and Valium are the most commonly used detox medication in the UK. All medication used to help with alcohol detox have been proven to help reduce the effects of withdrawal symptoms.

There are also a number of drugs recombined by the NHS to help treat alcohol misuse. Some of these include:

  • Naltrexone
  • Disulfiram (Antabuse)
  • Nalmefene
  • Acamprosate (campral)

Medication is always required for heroin detox. For someone suffering from heroin addiction, the thought of detoxification (detox) can be exceptionally daunting. Withdrawal symptoms from opiates, such as heroin, can be severe and include pain, vomiting, nausea and shaking.

There are different ways that heroin detox can be carried out, most usually either ‘maintenance therapy’ or ‘full medical detox’.

Attempting to switch from heroin to a heroin substitute, usually on a controlled prescription, is known as Maintenance therapy. Subsites used are most often methadone or buprenorphine.

A full medical detox from heroin will always be carried out in a residential rehab setting and will allow the individual to switch form heroin to a substitute and slowly withdraw completing treatment free of all substances. Someone using a heroin substitute can choose to have a full medical detox at any time, however detoxing substances such a methadone can often add to the length of detox required. Drugs most commonly used to fully detox from heroin are, Subutex, Suboxone and Methadone. Much like alcohol, the exact drugs used will be dependent on the individuals needs/medical history.

Once detoxed from heroin the risk of overdose is much higher following relapse due to tolerance following withdrawal.

The length of treatment in a residential rehab depends on a number of elements. Some substances require longer periods of detox than others.

Private paying patients will also often choose a length of stay that suites their therapeutic and financial needs. As a rule, a full treatment program in a rehab is considered to be 28 days (often referred to as a month), however, treatment is offered in several different ways and lengths starting at 7 days.

Treating alcohol addiction will always require a minimum of 7-10 days, this would be considered the detoxification (detox) faze. The length required for treating drug addiction can vary drastically depending on the substance being used. Detox for Heroin addiction is generally around 14 days minimum, with more time required if substances such a methadone are being used. Treating prescription drug addiction can often take the longest. The time required for treating gambling addiction, eating disorders and sex addiction will be based on the individuals needs.

Rehab programs can be as long as an individual requires but primary treatment is normally caped at 12 weeks, with the offering for further secondary and tertiary treatment thereafter.

*based on average rehab stays, everyone will vary dependant on needs and medical requirement/history.

There is no need for your employer to know that you are seeking help for trauma and addiction unless you choose to involve them with the process. All employers should have a policy that explains what you do if you cannot come to work due to illness – illness to include treating alcohol addiction/treating drug addiction.

If your work absence extends over 7 days your employer is likely to require an official statement of fitness to work which would be obtained from your GP. This would need to supply evidence of your illness as well as any adjustments required for returning to work, fazed return or reduced hours, but does not need to specify in detail the reason why you have been absent.

If you are absent from work for 7 days of less, for example entering rehab for a detoxification (detox) on a Saturday for 7-10 days taking a full week away from work, you can self-certify your illness by letting your employer work you will not be attending work for that period of time. Exactly how an individual would do this would be dependent on a specific companies’ policies on taking sick leave.

Any time longer than 7 days it is likely an employer will require a note from the individuals GP certifying their sickness and a fit note on return. Most companies have a clearly outlined policy on sickness and receiving sick pay so the exact requirement can vary. A rehab will always be willing to advise on time off work.

How much does rehab cost is a very frequently asked question. The cost of treatment can range from £1,000 per week upwards depending on the place, with luxury rehab being the most expensive.

There are free options available on the NHS but the waitlist of those looking for free treatment is longer than that for privately paying patients. Some private health insurance policies will cover treatment in some rehabs around the country.

Choosing the right rehab centre will often be based on priced but it is important to follow guidance on the most suitable treatment centre for an individual’s needs which our expert team of advisers are on hand to offer.

There are certainly pro’s for both treatment near by and traveling for treatment with one of the most asked question being should I get rehab near me? There are rehabs all over the UK and around the world that all offer expert programs, let’s look at how to choose a rehab.

Local treatment

Being close to home gives certainly has benefits. Visitors are normally permitted in rehab following the first 7 days stay, therefore if an individual is in treatment for a length of time longer than that being local will make it easier for loved ones to visit.

Most rehab centres will also provide a full aftercare plan for someone following treatment, this will include ongoing aftercare in the specific treatment centre. Living close by can make it easy to take full advantage of ongoing aftercare. There can also often be the option for ongoing care with an individual therapist, again being close by will allow that treatment to be carried out face to face.

Some individuals wish to be local but are willing to look broader, for instance the greater city of residence (London, Manchester, Liverpool, etc)

Treatment Away

Getting treatment away from home can be very appealing to some. Being out of the local area makes it a lot harder to just walk out of treatment as resources locally are unknown. Some also take comfort in knowing that they are not near home and focus more on treatment.

As the price for treatment can vary so much from one residential treatment centre to another, private paying patients often would rather travel to keep the cost down. Those using private health insurance may also have to travel to find a treatment centre covered in their policy.

When opting for treatment away from home this can be anywhere in the UK and also abroad. Aftercare can still be carried out and very successful using tools such as The Online Rehab.

There is no right or wrong when choosing where to go to residential rehab, but our expert advisors are always on hand to help provide information on all possible options.

Whilst millions of people in the UK have taken recreational drugs (amphetamine, cannabis, cocaine, crack, crystal meth, GHB, heron, ketamine, methadone, and prescription drugs) and drank alcohol not all become ‘addicted’. Most recent reports show that 279,793 individuals were in contact with drug and alcohol misuse services in the last year with over half of that being from opiate addiction and a quarter for alcohol.

There are several risk factors invoiced in addiction and those using drugs and alcohol socially, simply take the risk. These risks are as follows;

Tolerance – basically, if a substance is used repeatedly an individual’s tolerance to it will build. This will result in more of the same substance being required to get the same effect. In the long run this can easily lead to addiction and physical dependencies.

Environmental risks – these can include influences such a peer pressure and stress as well as physical or mental abuse of an individual (particularly as a child). Overall, those who live with frequent pressures and stress are more likely to reach for a substance to cope and are therefore at higher risk of becoming addicted.

Drug type – it is very well known that certain drugs are simply more addictive than others. Using substances such as heroin increases the risk of becoming addicted for need to ‘chase’ a high as well as physical dependency.

Drug administration – how a drug is administered can affect its addictive qualities. A drug injected rather than smoked or snorted will release a quicker and more intense high thus making it psychologically (and in many cases physically) more addictive.

Biological factors – it is now widely reported that being an addict is not only psychological but also biological. This includes your genetic makeup, mental health, sex and age. It is also reported to be 8 times more likely for the child of an addict to become an addict themselves.

Its believed that addiction is approximately half genetics and therefore some are 50% more likely to become addicted than others.

How do you help a loved one trapped in addiction?

The first step is to help and encourage the individual to become willing to accept help. They do not need to be shouting this off the rooftops, but they do need to be willing to go into treatment. There are ways to help someone become willing to get treatment for alcohol or treatment for drugs.

Set boundaries – set boundaries and stick to them. Once you have laid them out follow through with whatever consequences you have set however hard it is.

Stop finances – if you are financially supporting someone stopping these finances can be the quickest way for the addict needing to ask for help. With no money to acquire a substance an addict’s options become very limited.

Intervention – getting together with other family members/friends/colleagues and staging an intervention is often very successful in the fist stage of acceptance and gaining an admission to residential rehab.

You can’t make them quit, this can lead to dangerous withdrawal. Boundaries are very important in helping someone become willing to get help. Unfortunately you cannot do someone’s recovery for them and without self-motivation it is very hard to make it work.

The next step is to call our highly trained advisers 0203 955 7700.

There is a huge range of rehab options available and where to start can be completely over whelming so let us help.