Substance Abuse Doesn’t Discriminate | Amanda Bynes DUI | Orlando Substance Abuse Counselor Dana Risucci-West, LCSW Addictions Expert

Picture Perfect?

Some people appear to have it all: good grades, rewarding careers, and loving families. What outsiders may not see behind the near perfect appearance are issues that may be internalized to keep up an image.  The stress from keeping up an image can get the best of us at times as well and we may not have the tools to handle the stress.  However, whether someone seems to have it together or noone is immune and can succumb to negative influences, falling into a downward spiral of substance abuse.

Such is the case with Amanda Bynes, the sweet, innocent actress, known for her roles in PG rated movies and Nickelodeon TV series, who was arrested for driving under the influence back in April.  Following her arrest, she began displaying bizarre behaviors leading those who knew Amanda to actually question her mental health.  Although there is currently no proof that Bynes has a substance abuse problem, news of her DUI was shocking as she frequently portrays the “good girl” persona.  Her father explained multiple times that his daughter is a good girl, but unfortunately even “good girls” can abuse substances.

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The Story of a Corporate Executive

William, a retired corporate executive, portrays his struggles with substance abuse: “In sixty years I had never done drugs and drank only socially, but never to excess. I retired as a successful corporate executive who had put two daughters through college and had earned my retirement. My retirement party was however the beginning of five years of hell. That was when I was introduced to crack cocaine for the first time. Over the next five years, I would lose my home, my wife, all my financial resources, my health and almost my life. I also spent two years in prison (” William’s story is devastating, especially considering his successes prior to his crack addiction.

Not My Child

It seems most parents would argue that their child is a “good kid” and would never have reasons to get involved with drugs. Although someone may seem incapable of doing wrong at one point doesn’t mean he or she will never make bad decisions and as in William’s case, one bad decision can lead to a multitude of negative consequences. Some may argue that it is “normal” for teenagers and young adults to experiment with alcohol and/or drugs.  It is essential not to ignore the fact that your child or loved one may be experimenting or regularly using alcohol or drugs on the weekends.  Quite frequently a person is experimenting with alcohol or drug to erase another problem going on or to “not feel bad.”  Those most at risk to abuse substances are those that have unresolved issues and get hooked because they do “not feel bad” when they are using.  A teenager’s anger about a parent’s divorce may try marijuana to ignore the pain.  Substance abuse often has a root problem such as trauma, resentment, grief, loss, rejection, or other self-esteem related issues.  It is vital for one to get support for the core issue in order for the substance abuse or addiction to stop.

Show Them Some TLC

One of the most effective measures when attempting to help someone address their substance abuse issues is holding them accountable to receive help and to stop abusing or all together using drugs and alcohol.  Enabling or ignoring the substance abuse issue is detrimental and one of the most dangerous things to do.  It is important to speak your truth in love and address honestly the concerns you may have and set healthy boundaries with the person struggling.  Showing support for them during tough times and making them aware that “they will get through this” can be empowering and motivating for one to receive help when needed.   If you have a loved one suffering from substance abuse related issues, support them, love them, and help them find the help they need.


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Authors: Orlando Addictions Counselor Dana Risucci-West, LCSW and Aleisha Kirsch, Student Intern