While I remind myself that we must use caution before drawing immediate conclusions about a celebrity’s death, I also have to take note of the many thought-provoking comments that have come in on our Addiction Professionals LinkedIn group in the days since the news about Whitney Houston.
Addiction professionals are a passionate group that take ownership of their helping role, so it didn’t surprise me that strong responses followed when a LinkedIn group member asked the group if the singer’s death was the treatment profession’s “fault.”
Some cited Houston’s treatment history as offering evidence that the system did not adjust to her needs, while others argued that the ultimate responsibility for success in treatment lies with the individual. Here is a sampling of some of the posted comments:
“Of course I don’t know the facts but I doubt that Whitney was on maximal available treatment for whatever addictive disorder she had. Perhaps this is her fault, but certainly some blame lies with the treatment community, as I do not see us being all that good at letting patients know all the treatment options that might be available to them.”
“Are we meant to walk beside them day in and day out to be sure they are compliant … for a lifetime? Where does personal responsibility for one’s own program of recovery come into play?”
“With many treatment centers it appears that after the 28 or whatever magic number of days has passed there is often no continuity of care, and the patient is thrown back into the community with advice to go to 90 meetings in 90 days.”
“I think the danger is to assign blame, especially to people or ourselves for the actions of a person afflicted with the disease of addiction. … I think it’s tragic anytime someone succumbs to this disease but it happens every day, to people who don’t get headlines.”
What have your thoughts been in the aftermath of the weekend’s news?