Sensationalizing Recovery

Ok All, this will be my last posting until after Labor Day. I am going to Hawaii for some R&R and to finish my novel. A little hiatus from the world of addiction and recovery may do me some good? But can you ever get away from the wonderful, wacky road of recovery? I wonder.

I was on the plane to paradise at LAX when I got a call from The Joy Behar show asking me to appear and discuss Lindsey Lohan’s imminent release from wherever she’s been biding time since her last flame out. No, it wasn’t a joke – they were serious.  How is it possible we are still talking about this poor, unfortunate drug addicted girl? What drives our popular preoccupation with this boring and repetitive soap opera? Why do we care? Maybe we don’t, and are being force-fed this salacious redo because the media can’t help itself. It’s as if those who are covering the story are as unable to put the drug down, as Lindsey seems to be.  If this is what we are talking about in our culture, I fear we may be doomed. I told The Joy Behar Show that when they are ready to get serious and do a show that examines the more substantive aspects of this disease, I would be delighted to be involved. They didn’t give up easily, promising me that if I agreed to participate they would talk about “the bigger picture”. I didn’t believe them.  It’s not their fault; these television talk shows are at the mercy of the ratings game. Despite their good intentions, they will never talk about Addiction and Recovery without sensationalizing it. Their last pitch was to tell me that Dr. Drew would be on the show. This was their credibility play, after all — he is a Doctor!  Drew Pinsky works hard to promote understanding and to diminish stigma, but sometimes his methods have a different effect — see Celebrity Rehab. I’d prefer to watch Nora Volkow from NIDA on these shows talking about the brain science of addiction. That’s the kind of medicine and conversation that could be a game changer. The sad truth is nothing will change until addiction ceases being a circus act, and when those of us who are asked to be ringmasters, consider our motives, and say NO! We live in a culture where it is easy to justify short cuts and compromise in the pursuit of what we believe to be the greater good. My experience in the movie business, politics, and now healthcare, has demonstrated to me that those who compromise principle are doomed to be compromised. If we want to be taken seriously, if we want real action, real policy change and results, we must be serious and there is no way to be serious while discussing Lindsey Lohan for the 3,000th time.


~ by Christopher Kennedy Lawford on August 19, 2010.

13 Responses to “Sensationalizing Recovery”

  1. Amen brother!

  2. Fair point, Chris. I have often thought, when more people are killed 30 miles from US cities than in Iraq, thanks to the drug war, how come Joy never wants to get DEA officials on to ask them about that?

  3. Good for you Chris L.. Right on. love you. Mike B.

  4. Excellent article, thank you! I couldn’t agree more. The people (and sponsors of the newspapers, mags, shows) covering celebrity ‘flame outs’ are compelled by whatever forces to keep these stories alive. Meanwhile the public at large who are uninformed on the subject have the view that everyone goes to “rehab” for something, and that addiction is a joke or excuse and not a disease. Or, everyone in treatment for alcohol/drug/addiction (or other addictions)is cured in the length of time it takes to film their dramatic ‘sessions’ and the inevitable ‘breakthrough’. I hope you have a wonderful vacation. Thanks so much for all that you do! ~Clay

  5. Congratulations on standing your ground and not going for the TV shows that sensationalize the problem… many people still don’t see addiction as a disease– a serious deadly disease… it wants us dead, it tells us we don’t have it… its cunning baffling and oh so powerful… Nora Volkow from NIDA would be great as a guest, but then again I wonder how many producers of these shows knows who she is….the messsage needs to be education, awareness, prevention, solutions. Real people, real recovery.

  6. My compliments to you on a wise and unique stance in passing on the offer to prostitute the Field of Addiction & Recovery!
    Very few would forego the opportunity to have their face appear on TV and be paid for it.
    Until more professionals in the Recovery Field begin acting LIKE Professionals, the public will never begin to grasp & change their “opinion” of the Recovery Community & take it seriously.
    Nice job Chris and have fun in Hawaii!

  7. Hi Chris,

    Hope you have some great R&R in Hawaii! I definitely agree that discussions of celebrity “revolving door” type people like, as you say, the unfortunate Lindsey Lohan do nothing but give Rehab, Sobriety, and Recovery a “black eye” with the public and do nothing to explain what true Recovery is and how it truly changes lives. I have witnessed so many good, strong, and successful recoveries in the Healthcare Professions which because of anonymity must remain private. I was disappointed when Dr. Drew Pinsky chose to do CELEBRITY REHAB because not only does it again focus on the celebrity world only and I also agree that it diminishes his credibility with those who are seriously working with alcoholics and addicts.

    I have been quite “public” about my recovery within my profession as have a number of my colleagues. As a result I know of two people who sought treatment based on interviews a couple of us gave to publications within our profession!

    Thanks for all your efforts and I truly enjoyed both of your books as well as BROKEN by William Cope Moyers!

    All the best,

    John Murray, DMD

  8. We have the same media situation in France, where, unfortunately, there are no treatment resources apart from the antiquated over-medication approach in psychiatric institutions. The only ones who have access to the media are the power hungry actors of this narrow approach backed by pharmaceutical labs.

  9. What a wonderful blog. I completely agree with you. In fact, I will provide a link to this blog on my Kindred Spirits of the Universe site, trusting that is okay. This is the kind of thing we want to do there, promote good causes and action, and we welcome all contributions for the greater good of humanity. Thank you for your devoted service, not only to the recovery community, but to the world community. Many, many blessings and much love to you..

  10. Chris…

    I am very wary of the sensationalization of recovery. It is completely contrary to the humility I found necessary for my own recovery. And grand-standing of any addict only places an irresistible temptation to feed the ego and bask in the superficiality which undoubtedly is a key component to the continuation of their behaviour.

    While I am no celeb, I did stop going to big podium meetings because I found myself enjoying the accolades a little too much for my own good. I am a trained and experienced public speaker so it comes somewhat naturally to me to get up and present my story or some aspect of recovery I am learning.

    Yet to me, recovery is not in the telling, its in the doing. Telling may supplement the doing, but to me, doing is the more potent component.

    Bill W is believed to have turned down nomination at Time Magazine man of the year and other public accolades of his accomplishment. Which no doubt were tempting to him as they may be to any of us.

    And finally, an unedited personal opinion, why the hell do I give a flying *$#@ about a celeb’s unsuccessful attempts at recovery any more than the next suburban Dad like myself who is ready for sobriety and recovery? Certainly not enough to tune into any show that provides a platform for ego-feeding bs.

    Lindsay, shut the hell up and get clean, sober, and some recovery under your belt before you go on TV. Or why not skip the TV appearances at all and go help an addict on the street or in the burbs? And TV producers, go prey on someone else you bottom-feeding &^%%$^**s.



  11. I agree whole heartly…the media has used this as a rating circus act…

  12. just finished your book…I expected a better outcome…thot you would have had more love for your wife after all you had gone through…such a shame…the sadness for your own family continues…

  13. I love this entry. I so feel for LL. How will she ever hear that small still voice with the whole world screaming in her face?

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