Substance Use Is Reality – Not Reality TV Just in case you’re like me, and you weren’t keeping up with the Kardashians this week, all of the major gossip magazines and websites will fill you in on the latest prescription drug and alcohol overdosing seen on the latest episode. Kourtney’s husband, 31 year old Scott Disick – a.k.a the Kardashian “villain” – is seen on a birthday binge drinking rampage that begins while his wife and children are out of town. Throughout the episode, Scott rips beer after beer, shot after shot. After a long night of partying at the club, Scott caps the night by breaking down a door to get to his prescription sleeping pills – and instead of taking one, he downs the entire bottle. At this point, Scott goes to the hospital for overdosing, although it’s unclear how he is treated. The cliffhanger of the episode: Scott tells his wife that he may go to rehab, but that he’s scared not to see the kids for 30 days. Does any of this surprise you? This isn’t the first time we’ve seen painkiller use, alcohol use, prescription drug use – or any kind of substance use on reality TV In fact, it isn’t the first time we’ve seen Disick on a full on binge.
How desensitized can we become as a society? Reality TV may not glamorize drug use, but it sure doesn’t do anything to help. This episode shows an addict on an absolute rampage. The recap gossip magazine articles are even worse: reader comments including, “I hope he dies,” “Kourtney needs to ditch him,” “He’s just dealing with some internal pain.” Is that would they would say if they saw a person literally on their deathbed with cancer? No. They’d be sending good thoughts, prayers, and asking how to help. To make matters even worse – Scott Disick is already a “reality TV bad guy.” This episode – and the whole show, really – he’s made out to be a horrible person. Maybe he is a jerk, but he’s a jerk with a disease that’s going to kill him if he doesn’t get treatment. Have you ever seen a reality TV show follow around a jerk dying of cancer? I sure haven’t. Why are we following Scott Disick around as he suffers from the diseases of alcohol and prescription drug addiction? We’re not only making a spectacle of a man who will eventually die if not treated, we’re vilifying him. Painkiller addicts are not villains. Neither are alcohol addicts, or any sort of substance addict. They need treatment. Scott Disick needs treatment, not cameras, not over-dramatic reality TV shows that we watch as a guilty pleasure, not gossip magazines, and not his face plastered all over the web, and not people bashing him or laughing at him. Until we recognize addiction as a deadly disease, we’re going to become more and more desensitized by shows like Kourtney & Khloe Take (Any Given Location That Probably Doesn’t Want Them). Until we recognize addiction as a deadly disease, we’re only going to see addicts like Scott Disick as some jerk that likes to booze. And, one more note for Scott Disick – and this may come as some news to him and the Kardashian clan: After what we saw this week, 30 days in drug and alcohol rehab isn’t going to cut it. Swallowing an entire bottle of sleeping pills after 12+ hours of consuming alcohol isn’t just some drunken stupor. Any person that can down that amount of alcohol, bust down doors to reach drugs, and swallow an entire bottle of sleeping pills knows the ropes of overdosing. This wasn’t Scott’s first round. 30 days in drug and alcohol rehab isn’t going to reverse all of the years of damage Scott has done to his body, and any expectation that that his drug rehab and alcohol rehab will only take a set amount of days is an illusion. Alcohol addiction treatment, heroin addiction treatment, and painkiller addiction treatment are like any other deadly disease treatment, where recovery isn’t on a set schedule. Scott says he’s worried about not seeing his kids for 30 days. Has he ever considered the alternative to rehab? If he doesn’t seek addiction treatment, 30 days is nothing. If Scott doesn’t doesn’t go to drug and alcohol rehab, his kids will go a lot longer than 30 days without dad, because dad will die. Drug and alcohol addiction can only end two ways: with treatment or with death. There’s no in between. By choosing to forgo treatment, an addict has only one other path. Even if Scott has chosen to be a jerk, and even if he’s chosen to be on an obnoxious reality TV show – no one ever chooses to be an addict. But right now, he does have a choice to change it by seeking treatment and healing. No matter how long it takes. We also have the choice to change ourselves, as well. Why are we watching a show that vilifies the disease of addiction? Why are we laughing at a man – a father – who binges until he can’t walk up a flight of stairs? Why are companies paying top dollar to run advertisement during this show that makes fun of a disease that kills people every single day? Why are we bombarding the internet, bashing a man who is sick? That in itself is sick. We need help, too.