Recently, soul singer and musical legend Alexander O’Neal admitted to cocaine use, an addiction he says has plagued him for three decades. In the interview, the 61 year old speaks about the damage his addiction caused his career, his relationship with the late Whitney Houston, and his experiences during his multiple attempts at rehabilitation. The Mirror quotes the famed singer, “I know that it’s you against yourself,” he says, “It’s you against your own morals and values. When you fall, you just got to keep getting up and keep going.” He also speaks candidly about the stigma he carries with him due to his publicized use of cocaine, comparing himself to other known celebrities with substance issues whom appear to have avoided the media backlash.
“I think about other great artists who used drugs- like Ozzy Osbourne. He can do anything in the world, and they’ll give him another $10million. It’s because he’s Ozzy Osbourne. But I’m held hostage and they put everything I do in jeopardy because of some scrutiny.”
This is not the first time Hollywood has been criticized for its treatment of drug use. Though recent years have seen a decrease of the glamorization of substance abuse, it is still an apparently integral part of Hollywood society. The 27 Club is composed of celebrities who lost their lives at the age of 27. The list begins in 1969 with the death of Brian Jones and nearly every death can be attributed back to the abuse of drugs, including Jones’, who drowned while possibly intoxicated.
One of the more famous members of the 27 Club is Kurt Cobain, who committed suicide after a long and painful struggle with depression and addiction. The newest member is singer Amy Winehouse, who famously sung about her refusal to seek help with her addictions. She was found dead of alcohol poisoning and internationally mourned, as her death came just as her career seemed destined to take off. Yet even with the reality of the possibly tragic consequences constantly looming overhead, the media provides nearly constant stories connecting celebrities and substance abuse.
While some celebrities elect to hide and deny or ignore allegations of drug use, others have used their fame as a platform to encourage rehabilitation and renewal, such as Demi Lovato, who has been especially vocal is her campaign to enlighten her fans and viewers on the realities of addiction. In a post to her twitter account after the death of actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman, she says,
“I wish more people would lose the stigma and treat addiction as the deadly and serious DISEASE that it is. Drugs are not something to glamorize in pop music or film to portray as harmless recreational fun. It’s not cute, ‘cool’ or [admirable].”
Demi Lovato is not the only celebrity speaking out about addiction- well known figures such as Robert Downing, Jr, Angelina Jolie, Russell Brand, Oprah Winfrey and Samuel L Jackson have all been vocal about their struggles and recovery. Lovato, however, is making it a personal mission to turn her status into a platform to change the way people think about drug use and themselves. She accounts her continued resilience to wanting to provide a positive role model to the younger audience and those in her own age range and hopes to prevent them from making her mistakes.
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