A publicist for funnyman Robin Williams has announced he is seeking treatment for alcoholism.
Mara Buxbaum told the AP that the 55-year-old comedian had been sober for 20 years.
Williams “found himself drinking again and has decided to take proactive measures to deal with this for his own well-being and the well-being of his family,” she said in a statement. “He looks forward to returning to work this fall to support his upcoming film releases.” Buxbaum declined to elaborate beyond the statement.
While I always wondered if Williams had a substance abuse problem — I would have guessed an upper, not a downer — it really is troubling how many celebrities are coming out of the woodwork as addicts. Are these talented, celebrated, and media-savvy characters setting a good example by publicly admitting their battle, or are they somehow lowering the social standard in regards to drugs and alcohol?
The recent arrest of actor, producer, and alleged anti-Semite (I say alleged for my safety and in case some tape is ever released that proves this was all a publicity war — something I doubt more than anything, but a blogger can’t be too careful!) Mel Gibson serves as a cue that we rarely talk about addiction until the media reminds us it’s a “hot topic.”
Clearly, Williams’ recent admission is preventative and indeed “proactive” for his personal health and recovery. But not all those suffering from addiction are lucky enough to have that realization before it’s too late. Mel Gibson’s recent drunken tirade and arrest, while not sympathy-inspiring, was likely necessary for his future. If he hadn’t gotten arrested would he have ever checked himself in?
We’ve all seen celebrities, and likely family members and friends, from across the social spectrum suffer and seem to brush it off our shoulders. Think Wynonna Judd, Nick Nolte, “Lost” stars Michelle Rodriguez and Cynthia Watros — just to name a few that have been picked up by the police and charged with drunk driving. We remember the mug shots, but do we remember what the consequences of their actions could have been?
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, substance abuse has an estimated $181 billion per year on our society. This figure includes costs related to crime, medical care, substance abuse treatment, social welfare programs, and time lost from work.
That number pales in comparison to reports that more than 15 million Americans are estimated to suffer from alcoholism. Kudos to Mrs. Doubtfire, I mean Williams, for seeking treatment. May Mel and the millions of others suffering follow in your footsteps.