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Public Image and Private Reality: Celebrities and Alcohol

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Constantly in the spotlight, triumphs and foibles of celebrities are magnified to the umpteenth degree. And the rise of social media has only increased the scrutiny. Further, many famous people feel obligated to project an image that everything is fine, when sometimes in real life that is not the case. But that “public image vs. private reality” seems to be changing.

Photo by Sydney Sims for Unsplash

Recently, Colton Haynes—star of popular television series like Teen Wolf, American Horror Story, and Arrow—posted photos on Instagram of his hospitalization for addiction treatment. In the lead photo accompanying an article on Buzzfeed, he shows his dapper side. In a green jacket and blue pants, he looks as if the world were his oyster.

But the reality said otherwise

“I no longer want to live a curated life,” he wrote. His candid Instagram photos are in stark contrast to his image as a sex symbol. He added, “I don’t want to skirt around the truth to please other people or to gain economic success.”

Haynes isn’t the only one to step forward. This past week, Brad Pitt revealed his struggle with alcohol in an article in The New York Times. He described the disconnect between his movie star aura and why his life wasn’t “the lottery it appeared from the outside.” He explained, “In the ‘90s, all that attention really threw me. It was really uncomfortable for me, the cacophony of expectations and judgments. I really became a bit of a hermit and just bonged myself into oblivion.”

Claudia Christian, star of the 1990s science-fiction hit Babylon 5, created the C Three Foundation after her own battle with alcohol. (She is also a member of Ria Health’s advisory board.) After writing a memoir, Babylon Confidential, she wondered if making her alcohol issues public would mean that no one would hire her. In a recent email, she commented, “Projecting a healthy, happy persona has been a staple of Hollywood forever at the expense of lives. Studios covered up drug and alcohol misuse in order to keep their stars ‘clean cut.’ Thank God those days are over, and the days of truth and awareness and ‘coming out with pride’ are here.”

“Performers are notoriously sensitive”

Christian adds, “Performers are notoriously sensitive. That’s why we are drawn to the work we do—playing other people. Performing can take us out of our heads and unfortunately, so do substances like alcohol. So quite often, it’s a coping mechanism or a way to be outgoing, when in reality we are often introverts.”

Social media can lead to unrealistic expectations. We see the happy occasions, the lavish trips, the new houses, the joyous births—but too often that’s only the surface. In real life people have setbacks, relapses, obstacles, mistakes, and errors in judgment.

Whether or not you’re a celebrity, it’s clear that sometimes a public face is far different from the private one. If you know someone who seems confident, but needs to cut down on drinking, we can help. We don’t have groups, and we don’t have higher authorities (other than yourself). You don’t even have to leave the house, thanks to telehealth and our proprietary app.

If you’d like to see that desire for alcohol gradually fade away, get in touch with us. Call us at 800-504-5360 to find out more, or visit us at riahealth.com.

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