Paula Abdul, singer, choreographer, and American Idol judge (Simon Cowell’s favorite sparring partner) has announced that she had an addiction to or dependency on prescription drugs and that in November 2008 checked in to the La Costa Resort and Spa, which, despite its comfy name, was a site for her painful withdrawal after twelve years of abusing prescription drugs, according to an upcoming Ladies Home Journal interview.
Paula Abdul says she began to take prescription drugs to deal with painful injuries sustained in her dancing and in an airplane crash. Then, in 2005, she was diagnosed with reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome.
In 2005, Paula Abdul was diagnosed with reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome, or “complex regional pain syndrome” (as it has come to be called), a chronic pain condition, which has no cure. (more).
Paula Abdul is not the first celebrity to admit to addiction and to announce that she has undergone treatment. Since she apparently slipped “under the radar” with her treatment and rehabilitation last year, she could have perhaps spared herself these announcements.
Nine years ago, in an article that I called “The American Way of Drugs” (here), written just after I had seen a friend lose his son to addiction, I tried to deal with these issues, but I must admit that I did not deal very well with them, and, apparently, almost a decade later, it seems that we as a society have not dealt very well with them either.
Drug addiction is a very complicated process. Surely neither Paula Abdul nor anyone else ever said, “Gee, when I grow up, I want to be a drug addict,” and I wonder it anyone can pinpoint a specific day at which they admitted, “Today I am a drug addict.”
Chemicals are involved in addiction, of course, and some people question the use of the word addiction in such phrases as “gambling addiction.” (Would the expression “compulsive gambling” be more appropriate?)
Habitual actions are also a part of the process of addiction. Many people who quit smoking come to recognize certain triggers that they had never been aware of. For instance, a friend of mine said that whenever he talked on the telephone, he always lit a cigarette, although he had never noticed the connection.
Social pressures are also a part of addiction. For instance, Paula Abdul speaks about the pressure of maintaining her work.
And, of course, pain is often a part of the process of addiction. Paula Abdul’s pain was physical, but perhaps pain of some sort – physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual – is at the core of many addictions.
Addiction draws on and affects so many aspects of a person’s life, and addiction is, of course, not limited to one person. Friends, family members (and as I know from my own experience) friends of family members get drawn into the orbit of addiction.
For some, Paula Abdul is a person who has become easy to hate, or at least, easy to make fun of. But, as she has opened up to the world about a secret that she had kept quiet about for many years, it behooves us all to feel gratitude to her for setting an example of how treatment, even recovery, is possible.
You might find these articles of interest –
“Keira Knightley’s Anti-Domestic Violence Advertisement is Too Violent for TV” – Read it here.
“The Choking Game: From Sex to Ecstasy Without Drugs” – Read it here.