By Jeffrey Jolson Hollywood Today, Newsmagazine with an Attitude
HOLLYWOOD, CA (rushprnews) 02/18/07 â€” From Elvis Presley to Britney Spears and Anna Nicole Smith this week, a clear pattern stands out in addictive behavior amplified by celebrity â€“ the failure not only to heed the warning signs, but to completely turn off the alarms when they are most needed.
â€œSince smoke alarms were introduced as a warning system, everybody used them and they worked great â€“ unless the batteries went dead. These stars are taking out the batteries. They are turning off real friends and family in favor of people who work for them and tell them what they want to hear,â€
said celebrity publicist and author Michael Levine.
While no one, especially those caught in a web of addiction, wants to hear how they are ruining their lives, few people have the ability to instantly surround themselves with yes-men and enablers as celebrities.
Apparently ignoring friends and even fanâ€™s pleas to get some help after a number of inebriated incidents and an in-and-out rehab visit, Britney showed up at Los Angeles-area tattoo parlor Body and Soul on Friday night with her head completely shaved and had some small lip-shaped tats put on wrist to join the tattoo visible on the back of her neck. Crowds of shocked fans and a KABC TV News crew were held back by police. â€œShe looks like sheâ€™s having an issue right now, said one fan. Another added â€œSheâ€™s completely bald. It looks terrible.â€ Yet another fan said â€œIs this a cry for help?â€
Past friends warned the mother of two was hitting â€œrock bottom.â€ â€œWe (as in her Family and nearest and dearestâ€”ALL of whom are not on the payroll anymore!!) are doing EVERYTHING in our power to get help for Britney,â€ write her former assistant Felicia Culotta on TheOtherBlog, who says she worked for Spears for nearly 10 years.
The â€œpayrollâ€ comment is the key to the issue. It is endemic in the tragic stories of fallen stars that near the end, everyone in their inner-circle worked for them or was reliant on their money and fame to keep their own status and lifestyle. In the substance recovery field, thereâ€™s a name for hanger-ons. They call them â€œco-dependents.â€
No one in her entourage could say to Spears, â€œGee, Brit. Maybe you shouldnâ€™t shave your head and get new tats right now.â€ And earlier this week, she finally admitted she needed help enough to fly to Antigua to check into Eric Claptonâ€™s Crossroads rehab, only to check out the next day. Apparently no one could say to her, â€œDo NOT leave the rehab until they release you.â€
Smith also reportedly checked into rehab at least twice in the last year, and quickly exited. Her companion, Howard K. Stern, was not only aware of Anna Nicoleâ€™s problems with methadone and pills, he reportedly helped her obtain her supply and hide her problem. Larry Birkhead, who also claims paternity of Smithâ€™s five-month-old baby, said Smith was taking drugs during her pregnancy when Stern was around, and that she checked into a detox rehab at that time but did not stay long.
Thereâ€™s a phrase for that too, in recovery circles: â€œA.M.A.â€ Short for Against Medical Advice.
The standard stay at a rehabilitation clinic is 30 days, with some staying 60, 90 days or more.
As if to underline the issue, Lindsey Lohan left her rehab Wonderland in L.A. after 30 days. Lohan checked herself into rehab in early January days after reports surfaced she passed out at a post-Golden Globes soiree. Nicole Richie, picked up for drunk driving recently, is said to still be in rehab, though she apparently left briefly to go shopping.
At least teenage girls may no longer look at these tainted celebrities as role models.
Michael Jackson is another one who kept turning over his inner circle as his well-publicized problems increased. Though they were apparently not drug-related, the pattern was the same â€” increasingly strange behavior with no one left inside to keep it in check. Past managers, senior advisors and even family have fallen out of favor when critical of his actions.
Elvis was surrounded by yes-men at end too, as well as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and the list goes on. They tune out friends and family and surround themselves with fellow-users and others who have a special interest in keeping the status quo.
â€œPeople surrounding the addict, including family and friends, may wish to help but do not know how to do so in a meaningful way, so they simply resist getting involved, said Los Angeles interventionist Maureen Felker. â€œThe other stumbling block is that the disease of addiction is poorly understood by the general public and treated as a phase or lifestyle choice, instead of as a progressive, chronic illness that, left untreated, can be fatal. The professional chemical dependency treatment community however, does understand the disease, and can be enormously helpful to both the addict and those surrounding him or her, by providing education, support, treatment, and relief from the devastating cycle of addiction.â€