Addiction and the media

by Charlotte Fantelli

This is going to be the most controversial post I think I have ever written. Some of you will agree with me wholeheartedly, some of you will despise my words. These views are mine and don't represent my work with Mental Healthy!

I know quite a bit about drugs and addiction.

My mother, God bless her, was a tranquilliser addict (prescribed) during most of my young childhood (see her story of Tranquilliser Addiction). Three other family members have been addicts - 2 heroin, 1 cocaine.

My best friend during my late teens was a heroin addict. I gave her a job, my mother gave her a home to get clean. She slept in my bed as she shook with the DT's. I held her head as she gouged out, her eyes rolling back as she drifted in and out of consciousness. I tried and succeeded not to let her choke on her own vomit, after she'd smoked £40 of crack and injected the same value of heroin into her 7 stone frame.

I also left her alone and on a train station platform one night after another call for help. Faced with the decision of letting her think rescue would always come and standing by watching her rot her life away, or turn my face and let her hit her own rock bottom. I finally chose the latter.

Believe me, I may have turned my face, but I never turned my heart.

My step father was an alcoholic and despite the violent temper, watching someone you love abuse themselves as much as they abused you hurts just as bad. 

I had my first and last drug OD experience at 13, after I was in hospital with a paranoid episode so darn young, I never took drugs again. Maybe that night saved my life? Maybe, just maybe I wouldn't be about to take the moral high ground, or stance I am about to take if that terrifying event of drug induced psychosis did not occur that night? But it did, and these views are mine!

I want the media to stop glamourising drug addiction, alcohol, excess... Here's what I'm talking about:

Chris Rene, I have nothing against the bloke and while I think it is TOTALLY wonderful and commendable that he is clean (albeit for 60 days!) shows like the X-factor depict this bull**** like it is the biggest thing to be proud of!

Yes, getting clean and sober is awesome, but let's not show kids a glorified image of triumph, let us show kids the reality:

Babies born addicts, kids pricking themselves on dirty needles, babies going hungry while mummies and daddies jack up. Kids being dropped because mummy was so drunk she just fell over (this happened to a close friend). Let us show kids the 100's that don't get clean and what life is really like for them - not let them think oh it's ok to take drugs this guy's amazing, he's ok, addiction aint that bad!...

OK so I am not belittling what this guy, what my step dad (who is now clean), or any other former addict achieved. One of my greatest friends now is a former addict and I LOVE him dearly.

BUT - some people go through monumental hardship, yet they don't hurt, harm or abuse others. They don't ruin the first years of their kids life (this dude's kid is 2 1/2). They deal with their stuff, they face life's challenges, parenthood, illness, sleepless nights. They find it hard, but they don't turn to drink, to drugs, to crime....

Let us commend these people to our kids. Let us play cheesy American music behind those normal folk that go to work every day and don't succumb to life's temptations. And let not a talent show hold up a very vulnerable family as entertainment - 60 days clean? Come back next year mate after 1 year and 60 days clean!?

Before you say I don't know how hard it is, I have been an addict. Not to drugs (well apart from cigarettes which I gave up to get pregnant), but diagnosed an addict under the criteria of 'I couldn't stop doing something even though it was causing me harm' and it was 'disproportionate' within my life. However, I made the choices in life to get married and to have children, in doing so I lost all rights to indulge my addictions, however damn hard it was and still is almost daily!

YES getting free from the horrors of drug addiction should be commended. Getting clean is amazing... But you know what's better? Never getting unclean in the first place & THAT is what we need to teach to our kids!


I agree, wholeheartedly! Darn well done for saying so - so many shy away from saying what they really think. Addiction should not be glamourised as many teenage movies and TV programmes do, the reality should be depicted Kevin

Thanks Kevin :)

Well I agree as well but everyone deserves a second chance x

Absolutely! It's not the addicts I actually critcise, in fact it is they who are the victim to the culture I am criticising. I am a big fan of second chances, Lord knows I've had mine. C

Well said, Charlotte! I'll second that.

It is great when people recover from addiction, but I'd rather my kids grew up to resist drug and alcohol abuse in the first place! That is MUCH better.

And thanks for sharing your personal experience.


Thanks Sarah,

That's hit the nail on the head, glad you liked the post :)

Fantastic post!

Thanks Natalie, I was expecting some controversial replies, but the consensus seems to agree with me :) I look forward to reading your next blog. C

I think 'drug chic' sheek is a problem, but lets not stigmatize anyone who may choose to accept help. 2. sheek its like coool, but not too cool, n its dorky but not too dorky, its like suave, but to a lesser degree.

Yes, very sad that the media can portray people like Kate Moss snorting drugs and show her in another shot as someone to be adored... Getting help is 100% to be admired not stigmatised, I just wish the country had a more proactive view of discouragement rather than 'cure'... Thank you so much for your comments :) C

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