Telemedicine and Addiction Treatment
Telemedicine (aka telehealth) offers new options for those who need mental health services and substance abuse treatment at a distance.
In an interview with Vogue earlier this year, Justin and Haley Bieber (née Haley Baldwin) opened up about their relationship with each other as well as Bieber’s relationship with drug and alcohol addiction. In the early 2010s, Justin’s substance abuse and behavioral issues were pushed into the spotlight by tabloids and paparazzi. A brutal catalogue of his offenses is still easily searchable – including egging his neighbor’s house, urinating in a restaurant mop bucket, partying in a Brazilian brothel, catching a DUI for drag-racing a Lamborghini, and buying a pet monkey that was seized at customs in Germany.
In addition to discussing these past issues, Bieber opened up about his more private struggle with Xanax abuse. While talking about his addiction, he described how he used drugs to try to drown out the shame and humiliation he felt about his life choices and cope with his depression.
Drugs put a screen between me and what I was doing. It got pretty dark. I think there were times when my security was coming in late at night to check my pulse and see if I was still breathing.
While these feelings of shame, despair, and hopelessness can resonate with many who have struggled with addiction, that’s where most people’s ability to relate comes to a screeching halt. Many people associate Hollywood celebrities with substance abuse in a stereotype that both glamorizes drug use and normalizes unhealthy behavior. Additionally, there is a similarly romanticized version of the treatment of these individuals, should they seek help with their addiction.
The well-known trope of luxurious Malibu rehab centers equipped with infinity pools, personal trainers, and 5-star chefs is a type of rehab that few will ever see. An abundance of money and resources provide these stars with a level of luxury that can be dangerous to normalize for people seeking recovery. Addiction is difficult for anyone to overcome. However, the privileges celebrities have and the media’s coverage of their struggles often makes recovery seem like a pleasant vacation. This is not the case.
Rehabs are still open!
For Justin Bieber’s addiction, the path to recovery may not have been easy but was uniquely provided with more opportunities because of his privileged position. Instead of going to rehab, Justin was able to stay with close friend and celebrity pastor, Carl Lentz. In 2014, as Justin’s public image and personal life were tanking, Lentz took the singer in and hosted what the Biebers describe as a sort of “informal detox“.
I’m really proud of him. To do it without a program, and to stick with it without a sober coach or AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) or classes — I think it’s extraordinary. He is, in ways, a walking miracle.
While Hailey boasts that her newly-wed husband was able to recover without going to a rehab facility (as though getting help from professionals is somehow less admirable) this is not the case for the majority of people with an addiction. In reality, the notion of not seeking the help of a medical professional during detox and for help throughout recovery is quite dangerous and potentially life-threatening. Some addictions, Xanax and other benzodiazepine addictions especially, require careful, medically-supervised detox programs so that the body does not go into shock as a patient stops using. Benzodiazepine withdrawal often involves seizures, even if the person has only been taking Xanax or Valium a short time. Additionally, programs such as AA and other support group therapies significantly lower one’s chance of relapsing after getting sober.
It is not unreasonable to assume that while staying with Pastor Lentz, Justin had access to medical professionals who helped him during his “solo mission toward sobriety.” While the idea of someone battling an addiction on their own seems admirable and maybe even heroic, it is a toxic narrative to spread. For most, not only would this sort of recovery be painfully difficult, it could be life-threatening.
If you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction, speak to a dedicated treatment provider today.
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