What celebrities in rehab and I have in common

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August 2,1993. My plane landed in Madrid, Barajas airport from Heathrow, London, where I had spent the last 13 binge-drinking days of my life. I pleaded that my then-boyfriend would not be at the airport to pick me up. Fortunately, my best friend (to this day) stepped in, and she received me with open arms.

My friend was prepared to pick up my pieces, as usual. The reason why I didn’t want my wonderful boyfriend to meet me at the airport, was because he knew well I had broken my promise again. I had gone back to drinking. I was ashamed, to say the least. I knew that by relapsing I had killed that love story. I knew I had to let go. We both did. I loved him dearly but I had broken every single piece of love and trust he may ever have had in me. Not only his, but my family’s, my friends’ and my own. Not to mention the mess I left behind in London, which was more hurt and personal devastation. Because, that is what we alcoholics do.

My excuse for drinking and using prescription narcotics, since I was 15 years old up until I was 27: to overcome my shyness, low self esteem, emptiness and void left behind from what I’m told by experts is due to a sense of abandonment at an early age. Not to mention my genetic make-up!

“I had tried many times to quit, to no avail.”

I had tried many times to quit, to no avail. I hadn’t gone down far enough, I guess. I tried limiting the number of drinks, spreading them out throughout the day and even, as a last resort, at the age of 23 I checked my self in to a rehab hospital, to my family’s surprise! And mine, I guess. But, again, it took only a week for me to check myself out and call that quits.

Hitting bottom

I am a language teacher. The next day after my arrival in Madrid, from London, in the early morning, I  went to teach English lessons at a multinational company. As I left the class I felt defeated. I was jittery, I couldn’t think.

My body needed another drink, a drink, perhaps mixed with a pill, to make me feel normal – my own definition of normal. Right there and then reality hit me:  “I can’t function at work like this anymore. I won’t be able to teach anymore.” Teaching defines me, it’s what I love to do, it’s my hobby, my life. And this saved me. The thought of not being able to do something I loved.

That evening I went straight to the only Narcotics Anonymous meeting I could find back then in Madrid. I walked in feeling terribly broken, but also willing to be fixed. To my surprise, I was the only woman in that particular group. But as those men spoke and shared their stories, I listened to my own. I had finally found a place where they spoke my same language, shared the same fears and sadness. I felt I belonged there even though there were no other women. I suppose it was harder for the ladies to admit to such an addiction back then. Being a drunk or an addict was, I imagine, viewed as a male thing. Not cute.

And it was not easy. For three months in a row I went to an NA meeting every single day and although I rarely spoke at meetings, I felt held, safe. The hardest part was the first month. I couldn’t sleep and every single part of my body hurt. I also had to learn to face life sober. But to this day, I haven’t touched a drink. I don’t want one anymore. Because I have learnt to live on life’s terms, I have learnt to face my fears, one day at a time, and this is not just a saying.

Laura Carbonell today: ” I have learnt to live on life’s terms, I have learnt to face my fears, one day at a time”

Some celebrities use an addiction as a scapegoat, when caught red-handed.

What kills me is how some celebrities use this addiction excuse to walk away scot-free! They just check into rehab when they are found out cheating or acting out!

Their excuses: the former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, was caught having an affair at work and then, seen out drinking with a 20-year-old young woman. So when the news broke, he announced he had a drinking problem that caused him to make those mistakes and he entered a rehab program. Did he really have a problem?

Tiger woods and his Vegas ordeal! Well, now we know, not everything stays in Las Vegas! He went straight to sex rehab. Did he need it?

Eric Benet cheated on Halle Berry and entered sex rehab.

I suppose they reason that by admitting to having an addiction they will be forgiven! It’s not so bad if people think they have an addiction. They are excused! They go to rehab for a week and go back to business as usual. But, that doesn’t really work that way, does it Tiger?

But there are the celebs who are really struggling with addiction

Jamie Lee Curtis at the Los Angeles premiere of “Flipped” at the Cinerama Dome, Hollywood. July 26, 2010 Los Angeles, CA Picture: Paul Smith / Featureflash

There are legitimate celebrity addicts that truly inspire other addicts such as myself, and you can tell it was not easy! Robin Williams is addicted to alcohol. Robert Downy Jr, keeps on battling his demons. Jamie Lee Curtis is addicted to Vicodin and alcohol. They are all recovering or doing the best they can to recover.

I know they have shared their stories, not to be forgiven by their spouses or voters, but to forgive themselves and to help others.

It’s all about hitting bottom. Some, like me are lucky and hit it hard before it’s too late.

Coming up later this week, also by Laura Carbonell: Why I can relate to Whitney Houston’s plight

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