Watching the Golden Globe awards last weekend, my husband remarked when he saw Robert Downey, Jr., “My hat’s off to him!”
Mine, too. An extremely talented young man who wrestled his demons to the ground, beat back addiction, and made a 180-degree turn to heal his life as a wildly successful and acclaimed actor, a husband and a new father. “Nothing succeeds like success,” my mother used to say, and Robert Downey, Jr., is “there.” I am sure his parents enjoy sleeping very well at night.
We also saw Catherine Zeta-Jones, stepmother to Michael Douglas’s son, Cameron. A month ago, the New York Daily News reported that father was in court on behalf of son who is seeking to cut time off a 4 ½-year prison sentence for smuggling drugs behind bars, which follows a five-year sentence for selling methamphetamine and cocaine over a three-year period. That’s tough going, and some sleepless nights all right.
Not present, the hugely talented and horrendously addicted Lindsay Lohan, who has enough people pulling for her to keep her in the acting business as, most recently, Elizabeth Taylor in Liz and Dick, while her parents ricochet between headlines and court appearances for their daughter and their dysfunctional selves. Addiction makes addicts and loved ones crazy, all right, and the Lohans appear to be the poster family.
Addiction is no respecter of talent, fame, potential, lineage, love, or good intentions. The one common denominator is that the disease will go wherever it needs to go to remain empowered, whole, high and validated.
According to the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), illicit drug among Americans aged 12 and older rose to 8.7 percent of Americans, an increase of 9 percent from 2008. Among those aged 50 to 59, drug use reached 6.2 percent, doubling 2.7 percent since 2002.
According to the Center for Disease Control, 64% of Americans consume alcohol, with 50% being regular drinkers. Data gathered in 2009 showed the highest percentage in a decade for adults consuming more than 5 drinks a day, with binge drinking (5 or more drinks on a single occasion, irregularly) becoming more prevalent among underage drinkers. Drunk driving statics attest to no shortage of drinkers behind the wheel, with a third of traffic deaths alcohol related.
Multiply these findings by two parents, and you have a substantial “fraternity” of people who are as lost and sabotaged as their offspring.
At a 12-Step meeting last week, this parent lost her “cool.” When I explained that, like several others in the group, I was struggling with living on the edge of anxiety for where my loved one appeared to be heading, the moderator was cool and collected.
Do you know what is in store for your child? he asked. Well, no… . Do you think you know what is best for your child? He was going for the Higher Power business … . Well, no, I had to say… . He was so cool and so collected and so right that I wanted to yell, You’re not a mother! like several other women at the table, one of whom had watched her defiant daughter leap from the passenger side of her moving car that very afternoon. This mother knew that was not good for her daughter, but… .
This is the kind of insanity that increasing numbers of parents share with the Douglases and the Lohans. May we all learn enough to keep our cool and our faith and our marbles as our children jump out of moving cars to find their way.
I just happen to have written a book that may help, IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU — EXCEPT WHEN IT IS. I refer to it on nights when I’d like to sleep like the parents of Robert Downey, Jr.