Living a famous lifestyle has its advantages. When that lifestyle becomes one that is fueled by drug or alcohol abuse, the consequences are clear — as well as public and humiliating.
Child stars in particular face unusual stress. Not only must they navigate the challenges of adolescence under the glare of the public lens, they also often become the sole breadwinners for their families. As many child stars discover, this sudden change in fortune can negatively affect the most important relationship of all: the bond they share with their parents.
It’s no surprise that child stars turn to the false relief provided by alcohol and drugs to manage stress. The adolescent brain is not nearly as tolerant of mind-altering substances as the adult brain, however. Evidence from numerous independent research organizations indicates that an early start to substance abuse can lead to a lifetime of struggle with addiction. Although addiction is not curable, it is treatable — especially if it is caught early and managed aggressively with a commitment to ongoing care.
For some celebrities such as Drew Barrymore, an early start to substance abuse and an addiction-fueled lifestyle does not have to lead to a lifelong problem with drugs or alcohol. For others — such as the celebrities in our infographic — the struggle with addiction continues.
The notorious “curse of the child star” has been well-publicized and with good reason: a staggering number of childhood celebrities grow up to face poor decision-making as a result of untreated drug and alcohol addiction and, in some cases, even untimely death.
Why does such misfortune follow these young actors and actresses? Many experts cite the extraordinary amount of responsibilities these children face. They are thrust under the spotlight and forced to face all the emotional aftereffects of growing up too quickly.
As celebrities, they are expected to be perfect. Even when they are not in front of a camera, their personal lives are invaded by paparazzi and celebrity gossip. Mistakes that might be addressed within the privacy of a close-knit family unit are instead managed in the public eye, with warring parents and paid handlers all worrying about their own best interests.
Addiction may not be curable, but it is treatable. Many people, including famous actors and actresses, have led lives of addiction but recovered to enjoy a satisfying and successful future. For example, consider Robert Downey, Jr. His issues with drug addiction and alcoholism resulted in multiple rehab stays as well as time spent under arrest. After getting sober, Downey has become one of the most successful, award-winning actors in Hollywood.
The point is that even the most seriously addicted people who live in the spotlight can recover to become an inspiration to others who struggle with sobriety. While there is suffering, there is hope too — just as there is hope for the three actors profiled here.
In the following infographic, The Curse of the Child Star, we examine the downfall of three celebrities: Lindsay Lohan, Macaulay Culkin, and Amanda Bynes. Each found fame — the ultimate gateway drug — early on and unfortunately have experienced the adverse effects substance abuse can cause.
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Posted on February 7th, 2014 in Infographics