By: Mike Harari
Hollywood has long been plagued with drug abuse overdose, which has been a problem since before Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley were popular. Recent celebrity abuse scandals and deaths have brought more attention to the growing epidemic.
Over the past two years, the world has seen Hollywood stars and icons – from Heath Ledger, Corey Haim, Anna Nicole Smith, Michael Jackson – die from drug overdose. The same question always arises: “how could this have happened?” One of the biggest connections to prescription drug overdose is doctor shopping. Doctor shopping occurs when patients want more drugs and their own doctor denies them.
Patients will make up stories, write letters, and do whatever it takes to get more drugs. While it occurs in mainstream society, “it usually gets national attention only when a star is involved,” according to Dr. Jayson Hymes. And celebrities are no different; they have a team of people who are hired to keep them happy. If one doctor won’t give them a prescription, there is another that will take their business.
But most Millennials don’t have the money to afford a team of people to go doctor shopping. So where do we go to get prescription drugs? Our first source is the medicine cabinet at home. The second is our friends, or drug dealers. Take the movie Charlie Bartlett, for example. In the movie, Charlie starts at a new school and uses other student’s problems to trick his shrink into prescribing drugs. Then, wanting to become more popular, Charlie turns a profit by reselling the drugs to these students.
Whether this was influenced by an actual private school story or was the work of creative minds in LA, the fact remains the same: Hollywood draws attention to the problem and showcases it. In a way, celebrities almost glorify the problem. The stories of accidental drug overdoses and drug addictions spread on Twitter, via text, and through more new media sources, all of which Gen Y is actively engaged in. But how do these stories really influence our decisions?
At first, we may feel bad for them. Hollywood stars supposedly “have everything.” When their lives start to unravel, we can’t imagine why. Then the reports come in: relationship troubles, lack of jobs, and increased media attention. They turn to their inner circle, to the people they “trust.” However, these people may not be the best for them.
Take a look at Britney Spears. Three years ago, she was going through the worst downward spiral in history. Her divorce from Kevin Federline sent her into the party scene. She buzzed her head, attacked a car with an umbrella and kept close to those who perpetuated this behavior. It wasn’t until her father asked the court to be her conservator, did things get better.
But, America still loves Britney. The media follow her wherever she goes. Young girls want to be her. However, they also want to be like Lindsay Lohan, Nicole Richie, and Paris Hilton. The list of good-looking, successful, party girls showed that there is “no harm” to their partying ways. They can get a DUI, arrested for possession, and even jailed, yet, their sentences and consequences become small and minor.
Where does this leave Gen-Y? For one, we see that these actions have small consequences. It sets an example for us to “follow” or believe will happen to us. Second, we have a sense of invincibility. We feel that there are far worse things that can happen to us than taking a hit of a bong, doing a line of coke off of a mirror, or doing any other drug. So a celebrity’s minor infraction does little to scare us away from following in their footsteps.
While we are pretending to be rich and famous, realize this: there are consequences. There is still a problem with drug abuse and the media attention on Hollywood’s addiction glorifies the behavior, and though it may be difficult, we shouldn’t allow celebrities to influence us.
Photo by Scorpions and Centaurs