Carlton’s Head of Comms, Nicole Ettinger, interviews author of Kick Your Habit, Dr. Robert Lefever, after the tragic death of Philip Seymour Hoffman
The press have recently called upon you to discuss the tragic death of Philip Seymour Hoffman – What insight can you offer?
His death was an avoidable tragedy that indicates two things: Mood altering prescription drugs (antidepressants, tranquillisers, sleeping tablets and some pain killers) are addictive to people who have an addictive nature. Addicts are never free from the risk of relapse. He had been free from addictive substances for 22 years but was then given mood altering prescription drugs, which I believe triggered his relapse back to using other drugs. Mood altering prescription drugs (antidepressants, tranquillisers, sleeping tablets and some pain killers) are addictive to people who have an addictive nature.
You have treated thousands of people in the UK with addiction problems, including celebrities – What could you have done to help Philip Seymour Hoffman?
Help him to see that he has the same risks that any addict has. Addiction is no respecter of persons. An addict is an addict by nature, irrespective of background or profession, wealth or trauma.
Why is addiction and overdose so common among celebrities?
It isn’t. Neither one is any more common among celebrities than it is among the general population. If it seems so it is because celebrities make the news.
What can be done to help the younger celebrity generation from heading in the same direction?
They have to differentiate – through the questionnaires on my website – www.doctor-robert.com – between stupidity (which they can grow out of) and an addictive nature (which is probably genetically inherited). They can do so through the questionnaires on my website www.doctor-robert.com
You are very open about your own experience as an addict – How do you deal with your addictive nature?
I do five things on a regular basis
- I work the Twelve Step programme (first formulated by Alcoholics Anonymous) every day.
- I attend regular meetings of Anonymous Fellowships in order to counter my ‘denial’ and remind myself that I really am an addict.
- I remain abstinent from all mood-altering substances and processes each day. I do many positive and enjoyable things.
- I read Fellowship literature every day.
- I am in regular contact with my sponsor (Fellowship guide) and sponsees.
What advice would you offer to anyone who thinks they may be addicted to something harmful?
Do the things that I do (as above). Sometimes therapy may be helpful in dealing with past trauma – but without descending into blame and self-pity
Is addiction genetic?
I believe the antecedent cause is genetic. This is treated (kept in remission) by working the Twelve Step programme each day.
The contributory cause is emotional trauma. This is treated appropriately with an emotional therapy such as psychodrama, EMDR or NLP.
The precipitant cause is exposure to mood altering substances or processes. The treatment is abstinence.