Struggling with addiction while being in the public eye can’t be easy. For many actors, musicians and other performers, it’s a struggle to keep substance abuse problems under wraps and out of the tabloids. In fact, it’s downright futile. This is especially the case when the celebrity is going through legal difficulties or has been hospitalized due to their using. You can’t go through a line at the supermarket without learning which celebrity has a DUI or has gone to rehab.
While the public is often made aware of their struggles, we don’t often hear about the solution, nor do we hear from the actual celebrity what has happened. It’s all based on hearsay and gossip.
This has actually begun to change now, we’re seeing more of these celebs owning their own story, rather than simply allowing the paparazzi to run with their rumors. This is a good thing because it helps to promote the true story, and it also serves as inspiration for others who may be going through the same thing.
For Kristen Johnston, it’s been a long, hard battle that nearly cost her life. The Third Rock From The Sun star has made many appearances on screen, and talented performer, a gifted comedian and has achieved success in her field.
Her addiction took her to a dark place, however, and her struggles with pills and alcohol spanned many years. It started in high school for Johnston, as it does with many others. She enjoyed drinking and stated that she stole painkillers from friends and family. This is no doubt all too familiar for many caught up in painkiller addiction. Today, addiction to opiate painkillers has reached epidemic proportions and often leads to heroin use.
For Johnston, the using continued up through her twenties and by her thirties, she was drinking heavily and taking painkillers that were prescribed to her dog.
The Physical Toll Of Addiction
In 2006, Johnston flew to London to join the cast of the West End Show, Love Song. After the evening’s performance, she was rushed to the hospital. Her intestines had ripped open. She was suffering from acute peritonitis. She had to have emergency surgery and spent months in the hospital recuperating. Unfortunately, this wake-up call didn’t stop her. She continued drinking heavily and popping pills.
People who have never experienced addiction may grapple with understanding how someone could continue using after such a traumatic experience, but it just goes to show how powerful the disease of addiction really is.
Fortunately for Kristen Johnston, she eventually made the decision to confront her fears and her addiction and go to rehab for help. She was addicted to Vicodin and underwent treatment for opiate addiction with the help of Suboxone, an opiate replacement therapy. Along with medication, she participated in addiction treatment to address the psychological aspect of her problem. While medication can be an effective means to help overcome opiate dependence, it doesn’t fully address the problem. A combination of medication and comprehensive addiction treatment is the best route.
Speaking Out On Addiction And Recovery
Johnston is open about both her addiction and her recovery. This is becoming more and more common, although there are many who caution against it. Johnston revealed that an agent warned her that talking about her addiction may hurt her career — and that it made people uncomfortable. Fortunately, Johnston didn’t give into that kind of pressure and has not only spoken publicly about her problem, appearing on the Late Show With David Letterman, but also authored a book, titled “Guts: The Endless Follies and Tiny Triumphs of a Giant Disaster.
This is becoming more common, as addicts, both in recovery and not, are becoming more outspoken about their struggles. Lifting the veil of secrecy from addiction is helping to combat some of the stigma that has traditionally surrounded it. This is a good thing since fear of judgment and disapproval is often a barrier for people who need help. When celebrities are open about addiction, it brings awareness, and when they recover and continue to experience success in their field, it shows people that recovery is possible and that a person can go on and live healthy, happy lives after addiction. This is a valuable message, that addicts and their loved ones need to hear.
Now 44, Kristen Johnson is continuing to move forward in her life. She openly discusses her struggles with the guilt and shame of addiction, and her difficulty coming to terms with her problem. She also is a huge supporter of recovery and runs self-esteem groups for young women.
Getting Help For Your Addiction
If you’re a woman struggling with substance abuse, Wayside House can help. Our program is geared toward helping women overcome their addiction, find their voice and recover. We offer a safe, welcoming environment and treatments such as art therapy, equine therapy, yoga, meditation and treatment for co-occurring disorders. Call 800-655-0817 to learn more about our program.