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The Painkiller Trap and the Stars that Fell Into It

It’s an open secret that many rich and famous celebrities across the globe, such as Hollywood actors or actresses, musicians, TV stars, newscasters, even surgeons have fallen into the trap of prescription painkiller addiction as a means of coping with the stress of fame or the pressures of holding someone’s life in your hands daily.  And they are not alone.  Statistics indicate that 2 million Americans are addicted to prescription painkillers, more than double the number hooked on cocaine.

It may be hard to believe today with the emphasis on abuse by the wealthy and renowned, but abuse of painkillers such as codeine, methadone, and others is a situation which began amidst the rural poor of America.  The chemicals which are found in prescription painkillers and which give them their power are called opioids.  They come from the same poppy plant that is used in the making of opium and heroin.

While it’s a fact that anyone can become dependent on prescription pain pills, the addiction frequently starts with emotional dependence originating from such factors as loneliness, anxiety or depression, as is true of all other addictions as well.

Michael Jackson

Michael JacksonOne outstanding example of celebrity painkiller addiction is the King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson.  Following the terrifying accident back in 1984 where background fireworks set Jackson’s hair on fire during the filming of a Pepsi commercial, Jackson started his on again off again relationship with pain pills.  At the time it was understandable that Jackson would require pain relief as his scalp was badly burned in the accident, but what no one realized was that for the tormented star this was just the beginning of a lifelong dependency on painkillers.

That time Jackson was able to get help and stop taking the painkillers.  Then the problem started up again in 1993 when Jackson injured his back while rehearsing for a tour and as a result, became addicted to Demerol.

Chevy Chase

Chevy ChaseAnother example of celebrity’s undone by prescription pain pills is the clever and funny Chevy Chase.  This famous comedian, once part of the original cast of “Saturday Night Live” has been fighting his battle with prescription painkillers for decades.  It all began when Chase started using the medication to ease the severe pain in his back caused by too many of his famous pratfalls.  Like everyone else who becomes an addict, Chase did not plan to continue using the pills indefinitely, yet found he simply could not stop taking them.  Since then he has been a repeat patient at the Betty Ford Drug Rehab Center numerous times trying to kick the habit.

Carrie Fisher

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Carrie FisherThen we have the case of famed actress and writer Carrie Fisher.  Now who doesn’t know her from the unforgettable role of Princess Leia in the Star Wars series?  But Fisher has also wrestled with a lengthy pain pill addiction.

It’s taken her decades of trial and error, success followed by failure, a continual cycle of ups and downs to overcome her addiction, and she readily admits that she still doesn’t feel “mentally sound.”

Jamie Lee Curtis

Jamie Lee CurtisOur last, but not least example of a celebrity once dependent upon painkillers is Jamie Lee Curtis who has been very open about her difficulties with drugs and alcohol.  Curtis, also a recovering alcoholic began taking painkillers following a cosmetic procedure but never imagined that she was starting down the road toward yet another addiction.

She has discussed her problem with drugs and stated flatly that she would “anesthetize me every day.”  This included raiding her sick mother’s medicine supply and developing a big interest in the bottle of codeine that was kept around within easy reach.

What all of this documented misery seems to prove is that no one is immune to the trials and tribulations of painkiller addiction and those celebrities are really just as vulnerable as the rest of us despite their glamorous lifestyles?

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