Because of Whitney Houston’s recent tragic death, a number of articles have been written about the continuing challenge of helping prevent and treat drug and alcohol addiction. Not surprisingly, the articles have particularly focused on the failure rate of treatment programs used by entertainers and other celebrities. As a former CEO, and a 30-year veteran of life in a big organization, I knew, and became aware of, many people with drug and alcohol addictions. I even have a few long time friends who are recovering addicts.
I am not surprised by hearing that celebrities enter an expensive residential drug or alcohol treatment program, and then experience a relapse relatively soon after finishing the program. The first critical success factor in addressing an addiction is recognizing that the behavior occurs in a particular set of social settings. Success means removing the addicted person from the social settings supporting the addiction. Unfortunately, most celebrities return to the same world from which they came, and, even if they disengage from the particular relationships that spawned the addiction, they find other destructive relationships.