The Celebrity Therapist

The Celebrity Therapist

Did Michael Douglas have a problem with alcohol?

*       It was a quite a shock for audiences to hear that the actor, Michael Douglas, has Stage IV throat cancer. What was even more alarming was to learn that it most likely was caused by drinking alcohol and smoking.  At least three quarters of people who have mouth or throat cancer consume alcohol frequently.  Statistics also report that people who drink alcohol often are 6 times more likely to develop mouth or throat cancer.  In addition, people who both drink alcohol and smoke even have a higher risk than people who only use tobacco alone.


*       We are so bombarded with stories of young starlets like Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton getting arrested or going to jail due to some sort of substance abuse issue, it is shocking when a story hits the air waves related to an actor who is dealing with the health consequences of substance abuse rather than just the legal issues. 

*       I remember as a child my brother and I holding up large poster size signs saying STOP SMOKING as a way to get our parent’s attention.  Both my parents were smoking and thank god they quit over 25 years ago.  My father definitely had ramifications from his smoking when he had a heart attack at 51 and  later had to have open heart surgery.  He also suffers from emphysema.  What is so ironic is that my brother became a major pot smoker (quit 20 yrs ago) and I became addicted to cigarettes (quit 16 yrs ago) even though we were staunchly against our own parent’s smoking and we knew you could become seriously ill from smoking.


*       Again, it illustrates the insanity of addiction.  We will go to any length to deny the consequences of our behavior in our disease.  What is saddening is when I continue to see young, as well as older people, continue a slow death by drinking and smoking.  I am very sorry this has happened to Michael Douglas, as I would be anybody with this diagnosis.  Although, his doctors say   his chance of survival is 80% with eight weeks of radiation and chemotherapy.  That’s great news.


*       Five years ago before I began working in addictions, I was a hospice social worker.  I saw many families watch their loved ones as they went through the dying process from cancer and other life threatening diseases.  It is excruciatingly painful to watch someone die, especially some of the younger clients I worked with.  The ones that had the more peaceful deaths were those who had a spiritual foundation.  At least, that was my experience.

*       Although, this is very scary about Michael Douglas’s diagnosis, I hope it is a wakeup call for those who still suffer from the ravages of alcohol and smoking addictions.


*       Sherry Gaba, LCSW, is a Psychotherapist and Life Coach and Recovery Coach specializing in addictions, trauma, anxiety, depression, and helping her clients find their life purpose.  She is the author of “The Law of Sobriety: Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery.”  She is a sought after speaker, and frequent contributor to anthologies, blogs, and newsletters.  Visit Sherry at for information about life-coaching programs, teleseminars, and webinars.

  • David

    Yes Becky your so right!!!
    I love your intelligence, anything that causes the body to dehydrate abnormally as is the case when alcohol is consumed will cause so much suffering in accordance with the amount consumed physiological damage ensures so even the onset of Osteoporosis is sped up with the damaging affects that alcohol causes the body, everyone what alcohol is a poisen…1 glass of red wine is good for the heart they say, what a load of crap that is, go get a hobby that you enjoy, taht is good for the heart-oh and to Jessica I’m a 30 year old man who did sex,drugs, and rocken roll, it’s kind of like your doing what your doing because others are doing it and in some way you take some pleasure out of it, but ironically the sin that you endelve yourself in eventually takes hold of you…re Michael Jackson, Elvis, Tiger Woods, went through hell by the way’s in which they have chosen to conduct thier lives by means of constant sin and transgression, in the end it all came tumbling down on top of them…and a keen observer like myself see’s the truth and light in God’s guidance..I take mine from the Holy Quran…maybe you would find the same too.

  • Becky

    Great article! I believe that it is best to just stay clear of alcohol all together… too many illnesses tied with it. For instance, I just finished reading a very eye opening book titled, “The Sobering Truth” by Jeff Herten, M.D., which chronicle’s the devastating physical effects of alcohol. It points out that alcohol is causative in 9 types of cancer including: breast, mouth, throat esophagus, stomach, colon, rectum, liver and prostate and is a suspected promoter of pancreatic cancer. Alcohol is the leading cause of osteoporosis. This is a book that everyone should read- pretty shocking to see what affects, besides physical, that alcohol can have on a person and their loved ones.

  • battery shopping

    A bottle of wine with a meal is ok, it’s acceptable for your digestion. But don’t be a drunkgard, commonly drunk. Alcohol is classified as a poison, you can alcohol able drinks and die, so don’t alcohol it. I alternate to Jesus Christ 28 years ago and accept no admiration or charge of able alcohol or weed. I am spiritually high, and sing in my church’s choir and am inhabited by the Holy Spirit. Don’t acting for the absolute affair with no ancillary effects.

  • Jessica

    Hey why won’t you people get a life? At least he enjoyed his life so far. Who cares if someone enjoys a cigarette or alcohol. You only live once so might as well enjoy it. You can go to church 24/7 and still drop dead of cancer at 30 so stop judging. Cancer is so random.
    Plus some people have stressful careers/lives. I bet most of you people are ugly are huge losers that got married at 20 and never had a life or got married at 20 and had 50 kids. Or you are fat and ugly and had no game. Michael Douglas is awesome and has a hot wife so leave him alone. I drink and i don’t smoke but my life is a freaking blast and I have sex and it’s awesome. I’m sorry your lives suck so bad and you are goody goody holy rollers that feel the need to judge because your lives suck so bad…. You are missing out. Live your life for Jesus and then die and find out it was all a sham…..

  • Dollie

    You ought to be ashamed of yourself! You have NO definitive proof that Mr. Douglas’s diagnosis is related to his past “lifestyle.” I dated a man for years who was diagnosed with head and neck cancer. After a three year battle he passed on. His brother had passed two years prior from brain cancer. Neither of them ever smoked nor drank. They didn’t live near or work near any industrial contaminants. They were raised on a farm in south Alabama and ate mostly food produced on that farm. Neither of them ever received an official cause of their cancer from their respective health care providers. They both died before their 60th birthday. Cancer is an UGLY and TRAUMATIC death and no one should be made to look back on their life with regret during this difficult time. If cancer should be the demise of Mr. Douglas, please, please let him have this time enjoying his family, not regretting his past “lifestyle” choices.

  • Jacqueline

    My thoughts and prayers go out to Michael and his loved ones. I am a recovering alcoholic with sixteen years of sobriety from alcohol and drugs. But not cigarettes! My mother died from throat cancer, it’s a terrible death. Not that any death is easy, but this was difficult for me because it was a cancer I could see. I was her primary caregiver and am very visual person. No one, can share the images seered into my memory of her terrible death. It was not a good death.
    Americans don’t like talking about death. Its almost taboo. If you watch closely, when speaking to a person about death on a personal level, they are squirming in their seat. I have learned from this tragety. I have been able to say goodbye to loved one with no discomfort. I have shared my experience with others who are first time caregivers. I have encouraged them to talk with their dying loved one about death.
    As for addiction, it is a disease. It is insanity. It takes over your being. I takes over your daily living. It consumes your every thought. It is pure hell!
    I have smoked for 26 years. It’s an addiction that challanges me daily. It has touched every part of my life. I truly want to stop, but at the same time, don’t. I’ve always believed, an addict, is an addict, is an addict! We do everything to excess!
    I chose to stop drinking because I could visually see what it was doing to me. I used to say, it’s so hard with smoking because I can’t see the damage. Well I’ve seen the devistation and damage now. It’s been 11 years since my moms death. I’ve tried and tried, over and over to quit smoking.
    An addict is an addict, no matter what the substance. It’s insanity.
    I blame no one for my demise. I only pray only for the willingness, the willingness to surrender.
    My mother smoked and drank. It was her choice. There is judgement of her from me. I can only live my life and make my choices. I will continue to pray for willingness.

  • Shakila Srinivasan

    I not only pray for Michael Douglas but all others who suffer from any diseases caused by drinking alcohol and smoking a speedy recovery and also tell others not to indulge in smoking or drinking alcohol.

  • Liz Michael

    Unfortunately we are rarely taught how to deal with our emotions, and the result is dependence on substances (alcohol, food, drugs), and even other escapes (shopping, gambling, sex). People also lose sight of how much our brains (brain chemistry) and our emotions control us. I agree that this should be a wake up call for those that may be struggling with addiction. I invite anyone looking for help to visit my website at I share with others the tools (including balancing your brain chemistry and learning how to change your behavior) that I have used to recover from alcoholism. I am actually able to drink socially today without alcohol controlling me!

  • kathleen m peterson

    Keep on fighting this thing Michael. Our prayers are with you and your family!!

  • Pat

    I understand that everyone wants to blame alcohol and smoking for cancer as an easy explanation for this disease. However my mother is right now battling tongue cancer and has never smoked or drank in her life… Doctors actually told her it might be her mouthwash!!!
    So until we know exactly why some people get it or not we should blame the disease not the patient.

  • kdw

    My Prayers are with Michael Douglas and his family during this most difficult time.
    I pray that he can find peace and his recovery is successful.
    God does work in mysterious ways..just maybe this will be a wakeup call for so many out there that are going down this path of distruction to their own bodies my making poor choices..
    We do have a choice..GOD Bless!

  • Robz

    Quick recovery Michael, you are one of the best actors of your time. May God help you overcome this ailment.

  • Barb

    So very sorry to learn of Michael Douglas’s throat cancer…I have always been one of his fans and a fan of his father, Kirk Douglas…my prayers are for a speedy and long lasting recovery. We want to continue to enjoy Michael’s talent.

  • Carol

    I knew that Michael smoked and drank so there is no surprise to me at all that he has Cancer no surprise at all just by listening to his voice you could hear that.
    Now the sad thing is the only people that will really pay for what he did is his family because all he cared about was smoking and drinking that was all he enjoyed.
    Now they are mad at the doctors because they didn’t find the damage he has been doing for many many years and it is not their fault all of this is his fault and that is a fact.
    My father did the same thing to his family smoke and smoke more and we all paid for that because we had to move back to the United States and live hell.
    We lost everything having to move back to the states we had a wonderful home a great place to live in the Panama, Canal Zone.
    We moved back to the states and they didn’t want us either because that was the first influx of Cubans so we were considered in the way and we got no help as far as housing, food, medical help and we needed it badly. The Cubans got food and it was the wrong food so they threw in the street literally the very food we couldn’t get. They got free housing even if they had children but we couldn’t get it because my mother had children it took us a year to find housing.
    When I became ill from an appendix attack my mother went to the same hospital as the Cubans got their medical free they told my mother they couldn’t help her because we were Americans so she had to go to loan shark to get the money to pay for surgery and took her years and years to pay that bill off of which I knew nothing about until she was in her 70’s and I furious and still am today.
    So that is just tip of the iceberg of what that horrible smoking can do what smoking can do a family and the person smoking refuses to stop that horrible act that is done to family members.
    To blame the doctors is so far out of line I don’t have the words if God forbid nothing can be done for him the only thing he has to do in look in the mirror and see who did the damage.

  • Sherry Gaba, LCSW, Psychotherapist and Life Coach

    Sorry Sue you must misunderstand. That is what I said, I smoked because I wanted to not because my parents smoked. I wasn’t
    blaming my parents, in fact, I was explaining the INSANITY of smoking
    knowing it was bad for you and how I had tried to get my parents to NOT smoke, and I smoked anyway. Maybe you need to read the blog again so you understand the point. I AM NOT BLAMING ANYONE FOR MY ACTIONS!!!!!

  • suejkw

    Smoking is a CHOICE,for starters.If your parents smoke,YOU have THE CHOICE not to or to smoke.IT IS NOT A GIVEN! So many people have to blame someone else for their behavior instead of taking responsibility themselves for how they act or their choices.Alcoholics blame others for choosing to become alcoholics themselves.They CHOOSE to drink KNOWING what will happen later when it DOES become an addiction.But THEY make the choice beforehand!

  • Don,t smoke anything, a glass of wine is good for your digestion

    I have know 6 people die personally of lung cancer in my 59 years. Now just last month I know 7, my mom……Don’t smoke cigarettes and don’t smoke weed, it’s 10 times as bad as a cigarette. A glass of wine with a meal is ok, it’s good for your digestion. But don’t be a drunkgard, habitually drunk. Alcohol is classified as a poison, you can drink strong drinks and die, so don’t drink it. I returned to Jesus Christ 28 years ago and have no desire or need of strong drink or weed. I am spiritually high, and sing in my church’s choir and am inhabited by the Holy Spirit. Don’t substitute for the real thing with no side effects.
    Don’t worry, pray and be happy!

  • Steve Cornell
  • Hennrietta22

    M. Douglas said he was a heavy drinker, and heavy smoker. Big difference between a glass of vino with one dinner a day. Most people in show business or any business drink at any social get together they are at, I think the smoking may be ebbing by this time. My brother died of throat cancer, heavy, heavy smoker, liked beer, and would have cocktails at social events. I think from the people that I know that have died, it was mainly because of smoking. My brother did not die of the cancer. He had a embolism two days after his operation. He was only 67 yrs.

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