Friday, May 24, 2024

‘Whitney’ Doc Serves as Cautionary Tale About Addiction and Mental Illness

*The new documentary on Whitney Houston titled “Whitney,” not only offers fans an intimate insight into the singer’s life, it also highlights how addiction can happen to anyone.

Healthline.com noted that “a prominent study on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) concluded that those who experienced abuse (physical, emotional, sexual), neglect (physical, emotional), or household dysfunction (mental illness, domestic abuse, substance abuse, incarceration, divorce) as a child faced higher likelihood for smoking, alcohol, and drug use. They’re even likelier to be overweight or chronically late for work.”

According to the outlet:

A person can determine their proclivity toward these destructive behaviors by learning his or her ACE score, which is calculated through tallying the different forms of childhood trauma he or she experienced.

If she ever took the test, Houston may have had a high ACE score.

The traumatic experiences endured by Houston as a child are discussed at length in “Whitney.”

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Whitney’s parents, John and Cissy, engaged in marital infidelities, which ultimately led to their divorce. And a bombshell revelation in the documentary claims that a relative sexually abused Houston as a child.

In addition to childhood trauma, genetics also play a role in matters of addiction.

“If [an individual has] a genetic predisposition to addiction, then that can be very dangerous, and that experimentation can turn into an addiction rather quickly,” confirmed Janelle Westfall, clinical director at Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Arizona.

Another factor is an individual’s peer group. Whitney’s brother’s friend, Keith Kelly, claimed he was the first to give her drugs — marijuana and cocaine — on her 16th birthday.

“The curse of fame is often that there’s a lack of leverage within the family or entourage to lead a celebrity towards treatment,” said Sarah Allen Benton, MS, LMHC, the owner of Benton Behavioral Health Consulting and author of “Understanding the High-Functioning Alcoholic.”

“Celebrities such as Whitney often surround themselves with people who are related to them or paid and who benefit from enabling them. If an employee put pressure on them to seek help, they could risk losing their job.”

Benton added, “There are also pressures that famous individuals such as Whitney may face which can be the perfect storm for addictive and mental health issues: unlimited money and access to drugs, sycophants, career pressure, grueling schedules and a party-oriented lifestyle — for some.”

Many self-medicate with drugs and alcohol to deal with stress, and those suffering from a mental illness, like depression or bipolar disorder, are more likely to abuse drugs.

It’s unknown if Whitney was diagnosed with a mental health disorder but her troubles were often on display for the world to see. Fans, critics and health experts alike would agree that her story is a cautionary tale.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 5 American adults experience mental illness.

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