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Pressure causes spotlight effect

By Sara Humm
On October 5, 2009

Fame, influence, fortune, expectations, paparazzi, fans, judgment, tabloids, pressure.

These are all factors in a celebrity's life.
In the past year, illegal and prescription drugs have taken down many people at the top of their field. This isn't a new issue, over the years many performers have died from drug use.

Most recently is Adam Goldstein, better known as DJ AM, who was found unresponsive on Aug. 28. It was reported that he had nine OxyContin pills in his system and crack cocaine was found in his apartment.

In late June, the ‘King of Pop' Michael Jackson was rushed to the hospital with a faint pulse. His final cause of death was cardiac arrest, however, he tested positive for the powerful anesthetic Propofol and other drugs used to treat insomnia.

"Dark Knight" standout Heath Ledger died from an accidental overdose Jan. 22, 2008.

Tests indicated that Ledger took too many prescription drugs, including OxyContin, Vicodin, Valium and Xanax, making the high dosage mix lethal.

Junior psychology major, Jill Francis says that some celebrities suffer from the spotlight effect- a psychological disorder that brings anxiety to the thought that the whole world is watching and judging a person.

Many celebrities have been known to receive medication for disorders such as anxiety and depression. Francis said many celebrities try to self-medicate themselves and end up spiraling into trouble.

"The drug's euphoric state makes them feel good and they want to repeat it," Francis said.

Pete Townley, wellness coordinator at the Gollier Rehabilitation and Wellness Center said dependence on drugs could be due to a number of things including not having enough energy and having too many things to handle.

However, Townley said that many perceive drugs as a way to fix their issues, when they are really just opening a door to other problems.

"Dependency on pain medications gives people a false sense of security and can alter normal behavior and health habits," Townley said.

Then the question becomes about the availability of drugs to celebrities and what influence their status has on their ability to obtain the substances.

Many celebrities that have died from drugs had their own personal doctor, including

Michael Jackson whose personal doctor is now facing homicide charges. Townley said that in the instance of celebrities, money has a big influence and that doctors think they can control what they give their patient.

Freshman Sam Warshawsky doesn't think being a celebrity should be a reason for doing drugs.

"Our society dissolves celebrities of wrongs, and we shouldn't," Warshawsky said.

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