The Celebrity Therapist


For many people hearing about drug abuse, addiction is seen an issue faced by those with limited resources and limited ability to make changes in their life. However, celebrity drug addiction, including the recent death of Prince, shines a light on just how pain medication addiction can be found at any level of society.

According to friends of the late singer, Prince had an addiction to opioids that has been with him for at least a decade. He was first seen taking opioids after a hip strain, and he continued to up his dosage to continue to perform as early as a decade ago.

The Reality of Pain

The pain was not minor; rather it ravaged his body. According to friends, dancers and those involved in his life he used to opioids to be able to keep on performing, and he rarely if ever complained or asked for any special accommodations.

The hip injury was real, and in 2010, Prince had hip replacement surgery. His use of painkillers, according to his friends and coworkers, was to be able to keep performing even through this. Throughout it all, his fans and many of his family and friends were unaware of the issues he was facing with both pain and addiction.

The Identity 

It seems that even through the pain, Prince felt the need to keep performing at his top level of perfection. Where and how he maintained his supply of opioids is not yet known. Whether it was a doctor prescribing the medications is still unknown, but the fact that the star died under a doctor’s care has fueled the fire of speculation.

Whether Prince, like Michael Jackson and other stars, may have been given medications in dosages or for reasons that were outside the recommendations remains to be seen.

It is tragic, and well documented, how addiction to pain medications in the United States is not just a “star thing”. It is also a real people thing affecting millions of individuals per year throughout the USA, with deaths from opioid pain reliever overdoses increasing 3.4-fold from 2001 to 2014.

Perhaps, even through the tragedy of his death, the opioid addiction issue will finally come to light. While Prince will be greatly missed, the focus on this addiction may end up saving lives in the future.

Sherry Gaba, LCSW, Radio Host, Certified Transformation Coach and author of  the award winning book, The Law of Sobriety:Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery and Ecourse


In addition recovery programs that are holistic and client-based, resiliency training is one of the key elements of the program. People with addiction have lost their ability to be resilient, and they lack the coping strategies to deal with the challenges and obstacles life throws in their path.

Often this lack of resilience actually comes from unhealed and untreated trauma that may have occurred throughout childhood. This type of trauma can be devastating and lifelong, but it can also be treated even later in life, and the client can develop coping skills and rebuild the resiliency to be able to bounce back when life seems to be going in the wrong direction.

The Heart of Resiliency

At its most basic, resiliency is the ability to see yourself as successful and with the power to overcome the obstacles in your path. It is a belief in your own power, but it may also be the belief in a power greater than you to which you belong. For some people this power is God, Buddha or Allah, a Universal Energy, or a spirituality that creates a connection with the world around them.

There are several ways that resiliency can be developed through recovery programs. In many programs learning to have a spiritual side, which may be religious in nature, as well as different types of resiliency building exercises are part of the training.

These exercises or activities can include:

  • Identifying personal gifts, talents and skills
  • Learning coping mechanisms that are effective
  • Learning problem-solving skills
  • Becoming more effective at communicating with others to find necessary information and to make interpersonal connections that are positive.

Each program and each client will focus on different areas of resiliency training. Often for those in recovery, the hardest part of becoming resilient is in going back and addressing childhood trauma that may never have been discussed, acknowledged or processed. While difficult, this is the cause of most addictions, and doing this work will give you the ability to see yourself as healed, whole and empowered moving forward.


Sherry Gaba, LCSW, Radio Host, Certified Transformation Coach and author of  the award winning book, The Law of Sobriety:Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery and Ecourse

Sudden, unexpected, horrific or repeated types of negative incidents in life can all lead to the development of trauma. Many people think of trauma as something that causes immediate changes in a person’s level of comfort, ability to feel safe, and constant feelings of fear or anxiety in specific situations or locations.

All of these can be true, but trauma and its effects are not all that easy to pinpoint. For some people, the effects of trauma may not occur for weeks after the event, and they may build gradually over time if the trauma is the chronic type of repeated stress such as living in a chaotic or unsafe environment or dealing with bullying or abuse.

Besides the obvious reactions to fear, stress and atypical negative events in life, it is also essential to be aware of three other lesser-known symptoms of trauma.

Mood Changes

One of the emotional symptoms of trauma can be sudden and unexplained mood changes. This may include becoming irritable and agitated in situations without provocation or without understanding why these emotions are suddenly present.

For many people, guilt often follows these mood swings or changes, particularly if they are directed towards a friend, family member or a loved one. This becomes an ongoing negative spiral of mood swings, guilt and even shame over behaviors and thoughts.

Feeling Overwhelmed

With chronic types of trauma such as bullying or feeling unsafe or in an unstable relationship where there is any type of abuse, feelings of being helpless, hopeless and overwhelmed are very common.

Trauma can block your ability to see options to move forward, rather it locks you into those negative emotions and creates the belief that isolating and withdrawal from contact with others is the way to deal with the problems.

Work or School Problems

One of the most overlooked symptoms of trauma is problems with concentration and focus. This results in problems at work or at school, all which can lead to increasing stress, low self-esteem, and concerns about the future.

If you notice any changes in behavior, physical health or mental health after a sudden traumatic event or experiencing trauma, seek help and support to start on the road to recovery.

Sherry Gaba, LCSW, Radio Host, Certified Transformation Coach and author of  the award winning book, The Law of Sobriety:Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery and Ecourse

stresssStress is a six letter word that is probably one of the most damaging words in the English language when it comes to recovery from an addition. This is true for the “hard” addictions like alcohol and drugs as well as for addictions like shopping, love, internet use and pornography. However, as I discuss in the book “The Law of Sobriety” stress is not something that you can eliminate completely from your life.

If you can’t eliminate stress then you have to have a way to deal with it. This way has to be easier and more automatic than turning back to the addiction. In addition you need to choose an alternate or replacement activity that is not an addictive behavior in itself. Unfortunately, that is what many people do. For example, a person that is recovering from an alcohol addiction may find that when they are stressed they smoke more, eat more or go online and play poker. This is not a healthy way to deal with stress since you are really just substituting one problem behavior for another.

Having a plan to come up with stress is the best option. This plan needs to include three basic components. These components include:

1,     Whowho can you talk to when you being to feel stressed that can help you to avoid turning to the addictive behavior. This could be a sponsor, coach, friend or family member but it has to be someone that is sober, supportive and available.

2.     Whatwhat is the replacement behavior that you are going to use. This behavior needs to be healthy, effective and easy to do regardless of where you may be. Deep breathing is a good stress relief option no matter where you may be. Swimming 50 laps is much less practical.

  3.    How how does the replacement or alternate behavior make you feel? Does it reduce your stress and your cravings for the addictive behavior or substance? Not all stress reduction works for everyone so you need to customize your plan to meet your needs, not what someone else tells you will work.

An addiction recovery counselor, therapist or life coach can be helpful in developing a stress reduction plan. If you recognize that stress will occur in your life and map out a way to cope that is effective and successful your chances of falling back into the addictive behavior will be dramatically reduced.

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