Sunday, November 09, 2008

My name is Teri and I am addicted to...

My name is Teri, and I am addicted to Season 2 of Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. For the purpose of full disclosure I will also admit I started with Season 1. As hard as I have tried not to watch it this season, I am powerless over the pull it has on me. I feel for these people and truly want them to recover, even though I learned after season one not to get my hopes up.

While I support the argument that watching celebrities do anything other than what they do that makes them famous is a perverse kind of voyeurism, I take exception with Celebrity Rehab as it is one of the few reality shows that actually reveals a lot of what drives people to be famous and sadly, the price that one can pay.

Don't get me wrong I don't think people that are famous should have to pay a price or even be miserable. I also don't think that being famous is something worth aspiring to as I see more downsides to it that upsides. What fascinates me about the celebrities on Rehab are the stories they tell and the double life they lead as public figures and junkies. These people are in severe emotional pain, their addictions mask that. Once they get clean all that remains is the trauma and/or shame they worked so hard to avoid. That and an incredibly damaged sense of self-esteem.

In their conversations with each other in group, and alone with Dr. Drew, it is hard not to see how worthy each of them is of love and happiness and how out of reach that feels for them and has possibly felt for them since childhood. As I hear them talk about their desire for fame or fortune, I wonder if "celebrity-dom" isn't just another addiction. Or in the case of Rodney King, what does being famous for being abused due to a person?

The interesting aspect of the show is how it condenses a very long process into essential elements. In the beginning we see montages of the celebrities, snorting, drinking, smoking, and acting out, although they have agreed to be filmed, it is clear they have no idea of how they look or they wouldn't have agreed (would you?) After check-in we see them get clean and we think they are more than halfway there but they are not. Not even close.

The road of recovery lasts the rest of their lives. Compared to living without the drug, quitting is a cake walk. Relapse is inevitable and as hard as it is to believe, the courage it takes for someone to get off their substance of choice often has to be summoned many times over an addict's life. Relapsing is not considered failure, it is part of recovery. The odds of getting clean and staying clean are against you. Addicts know this, doctors know this and now television viewers know this and still, the desire to be whole keeps many people trying.

In the episode last week the group went on an outing to a park to go fishing. The boat that Steven Adler was in capsized. The lake patrol came and he got back to land safely but his frustration was palpable and to be honest I could feel the intensity of his need to get high. "How is he going to stay clean?" I wondered.

Maybe Celebrity Rehab is a classic underdog story and I'm a sucker for them. I want them to triumph over their addiction, not for ratings, or fame or even for a happy ending. I want them to know the joy that comes from living life sober, aware and free of shame.

I can't say I live every moment that way, but like those celebrity addicts I'm trying. I guess when it comes down to it, we're all in some kind of recovery.

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