Pubdate: Sat, 09 Feb 2008
Source: Intelligencer, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008, Osprey Media Group Inc.
Author: Lee-Anne Goodman


Drug abuse in Hollywood is almost as old as the Hollywood hills
themselves, but the fondness  celebrities have long had for cocaine,
prescription  painkillers and other dangerous substances goes largely
unreported until someone ends up in rehab or dies of an  overdose.

Dr. Drew Pinsky, the man behind the VH1 hit show  "Celebrity Rehab
With Dr. Drew,'' says the media have a  moral responsibility to start
reporting on celebrity  drug abuse in the wake of the shocking
drug-related  death of actor Heath Ledger and the drug-addled
travails of pop star Britney Spears.

"We have a saying in the addiction field: 'You're as  sick as your
secrets,''' Pinsky said in an interview  from Los Angeles this week.
"Secrets keep addicts ill  and cost lives. Families that have addicted
members  learn to operate with secrecy. And Hollywood is  operating,
and the media with them, like a sick family.  If this secrecy hadn't
been maintained, Heath Ledger  could be alive today.'' Several
celebrities, among them  Kirsten Dunst, Amy Winehouse and Eva Mendes,
have  entered rehab in the wake of Ledger's demise, perhaps  scared
straight about where their proclivities could  lead. And there are
also signs that Ledger's death has  forced news outlets to examine
their past tendency to  keep quiet about stars struggling with drug

Elaine Lui, a correspondent on CTV's "ETalk,'' wrote on her blog
( that with Ledger's  death and news of Dunst's
troubles, perhaps the media  and publicists should be more open about
drugs in  Tinseltown.

"Drugs in Hollywood ... time to stop glossing it over,  no?'' Lui
suggested earlier this week.

In an interview Thursday, Lui said the public would be shocked and
scandalized to hear of the many A-list  Hollywood stars, most of them
household names, who have  serious drug habits that go far beyond
recreational  use.

"You can report on almost anything about a celebrity - you can say
she's a bitch, or that he's a racist - but  you cannot say they're gay
or that they're a drug addict, because that affects their bottom line
and  their public image and that's when the lawyers start  calling,''
Lui said.

"And it's far easier, from the public's perspective, to  hate a
journalist or believe a journalist is lying than  it is to believe
that the actor or actress who they  worship is a drug addict. People
just don't want to go  there. But maybe it's time they should, because
I  personally feel being a racist is a lot worse than  being a drug

Elizabeth Snead, a blogger for the Los Angeles Times,  wrote recently
about once seeing actor Brad Renfro, who  died last month of suspected
substance-abuse causes, at  an L.A. soiree.

"I watched a very under-the-influence Brad Renfro make quite a scene
at a swanky Hollywood party several years  ago. Not only did none of
his celebrity friends, or the  publicists throwing the bash, find his
stumbling,  slurring, falling down and bleeding nose unusual, but  not
one reporter covering the party reported it,'' she  wrote.

"I tried to. But it was edited out of my  then-newspaper's party

Snead added that publicists are often among an addict's worst enablers,
concocting stories for the media aimed  at shielding what's truly ailing
their clients. A case  in point is Lindsay Lohan: before the 21-year-old
actress's drug problems became well-known, she had been  hospitalized for
everything from supposed exhaustion,  asthma attacks and appendicitis.

Drug use is so prevalent in Hollywood that actress  Megan Fox, who
starred in the blockbuster film  "Transformers'' last year, said in a
Maxim magazine  interview last summer she knows only five other people
 in Hollywood, other than herself, who do not routinely  use drugs.

Pinsky, whose "Celebrity Rehab'' begins airing in  Canada soon, says
Ledger's struggles with substance abuse were an open secret in Hollywood.
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