The Celebrity Therapist

With the tabloids and news announcing the filing of divorce by Eva Longoria from her husband Tony Parker, I couldn’t help but think of the deep pain she must be going thru.  After finding out that he has been allegedly been having an affair with one of their mutual friends must have been excruciating for her.  We can only hope she will be able to walk through the pain without avoiding it so that she can eventually get to the other side of her despair.

We humans are so afraid of pain–physical pain and emotional
pain–that we’ll do almost anything to avoid it. We’ll even choose something
safe and familiar that we don’t like, rather than taking a risk on something we
really want. We do that because risky ventures might fail, and failure causes
us pain.

            Our fear of
pain is what leads us to addiction. We can’t bear the pain of our current
situation or the memories of a painful past, so we numb ourselves in an effort
not to feel it.

            The irony here
is that our efforts to avoid pain just cause us more pain–and make true
happiness impossible. We don’t take the risk, so we never get what we want. We
don’t face the difficult past, so we are never free of that pain. We don’t sort
out the painful present, so we never make things right. And the pain just goes
on and on.

            We can’t be
numb 100 percent of the time. And in sobriety, we can’t be numb at all. So we
need to learn how to experience our pain–truly feel it–and just sit with it.

            How can we do
this? The first step is to see it for what it is. We are so afraid of pain that
we build it up in our minds: “This pain will be the biggest, worst, most
intolerable pain ever and I will not be able to bear it, which is why I must do
anything to avoid it.” Do you see how our fear of experiencing pain makes it
seem worse than it really is?

            Rather than
worry about how bad it’s going to feel, just
feel it.
Feel it without adding on the extra burden of fear. Notice the
pain with interest and curiosity. Just tolerate it for a bit. Notice how it
makes you feel. Know that eventually it will pass.

            When you learn
to detach from your pain without fear or desperation–rather than fighting it,
ignoring it or trying to numb it away–you’ll see that, after all, it is only a
thought. And thoughts exist in our minds. They are not part of our lives.
There’s no need to fear them.

of the clients on Celebrity Rehab 4
Rachel Uchitel, who had a very successful career in the
hospitality industry before she ended up on the front page of a lot of
newspapers because she had an affair with Tiger Woods.

            That affair was
actually the second time she was on the front page. The first time, her fiancée
was killed in the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center in New
York. She appeared on the front page of the New
York Post
holding a picture of him, and the photo was republished

            That tragedy
was not the only loss in Rachel’s life, and she has struggled with a lot of
sadness. When she came to Celebrity Rehab
she had some substance dependency, but her real addiction was to love.

            Does that sound
strange? How could love be an addiction? But it can be.

            A love
addiction can have a sexual component, but really it’s about romance and
relationships. The addict can’t do without them, can’t be without a partner.
There’s a terrible need for control and predictability in their life, a fear of
what will happen if they don’t have someone. The self-esteem of a love addict
is tied up in how other people see them–perhaps they’ll seem like a “loser” if
they don’t have a very attractive partner.

            Love addicts
often misjudge the depth of the relationship they’re in, and mistake drama for
closeness. Their perception of what’s going on is really a kind of fantasy love
affair–the kind of fantasy you might have if you imagined meeting your favorite
movie star and he or she fell in love with you. That’s a nice dream, but you
know it’s not real. But love addicts have fantasies like that about their
relationships, and think they are real. Some very new studies have shown that
when a love addict talks about their relationship, the same areas of the brain
are stimulated as when a person gets high.

            Like other
kinds of addiction, the love addiction is something that fills up an empty
place inside. Or rather–some people try
fill up the empty place inside with fantasy relationships. But it never
works. Nothing can fill up that terrible emptiness. The only way to deal with
it is to face it head on, to know your truth, and to see yourself and others
with profound compassion. I know it’s not easy. But when you do, the positive energy
comes pouring in and that gaping hole fills itself. 

             Sherry Gaba, LCSW, is a Psychotherapist and Life Coach and author of The Law of Sobriety: Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery for all addictions whether it is a  love and sex addiction, co-dependency, gambling addiction, shopping addiction, food addiction, an internet addiction or a drug or alcohol addiction. .  She is also the Life Coach featured on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew on VH1.  She has a private practice, see clients in her office and by phone all over the world.  Contact Sherry about her upcoming teleseminars, webinars,  and speaking engagements at

I was helping someone today move out of her apartment and
could not believe how much clothes she accumulated.  I wondered if it was because shopping filled
an empty void for her as she trudged through a bad relationship.  I started to wonder when does one cross the
line into a shopping addiction? 

I discovered that one in 12 people in the United States
struggle with what is known as oniomania or what the more common term,  “shopaholic.”

Some of the symptoms you might look for if you think you
have this disorder include:

Suffering from another addiction in the past
such as substance abuse, gambling, sex or love addiction, food, or
co-dependency and crossing over to becoming a shopaholic.

Maxing out credit cards and not paying normal bills
and expenses.

Have several jobs to pay off the debts.

Having a closet full of clothes that has never
been worn.

As you may know, sometimes a shopaholic or any addict has to
reach rock bottom before they seek help. 
You can find a 12 step meetings for compulsive shopping, seek a
psychotherapist, or see a life coach who specializes in recovery.  My book The Law of Sobriety covers all addictions;
no matter what they are; even compulsive shopping.

The first thing you do is to admit and acknowledge you have
a problem.

Always shop with others.

Join a 12 step group.

Talk thru the purchase and see if you will feel
guilt or remorse after you buy it.

Learn how to be comfortable in your dis-comfort.

Learn to breathe and live in the moment.

Prevent a relapse by staying away from malls,
internet shopping, or catalogs.


I often see individuals cross in to other addictions time
after time.  There is help out there so
seek it out if you believe your shopping has crossed the line into addiction.  Often the void can be filled with a higher power
and understanding of what is going on beneath the layers of the addiction.  What trauma are you avoiding?  What void are you trying to fill up with
shopping?  The answers are there if you
just listen and seek assistance to help you get through your pain.

So why is it baby boomers can’t just  say NO to pot smoking?  Maybe it is because they are part of the me generation.  Perhaps it is because they have the largest disposable income available to them to purchase drugs. 
Maybe they are in a time warp and still believe it is the 1960’s.  No
matter what the reason is, 8 percent of boomers ages 50 to 59 have used
some type of illicit drug in the past year according to the Mental
Health Services Administration.  In fact, Marijuana seems to be the most
commonly used drug.  However, pain killers, sleeping pills, and
anti-anxiety medications run close behind.  The percentages of pill
poppers and and pot smokers has risen more than 50 percent between 2002
and 2008. I  am seeing this rise  myself  with the  clients walking through the doors of  my private practice and at the Malibu Rehabs I  have worked

The question arises why has teen use dropped and illicit drug use
among individuals in their fifties risen?  What these boomers hadn’t
realized before it  became too late is you can become addicted to
marijuana.  In years gone by it was believed you couldn’t become
addicted to just an “herb”.  Wrong.  So  why then is this generation of rock and roll music, free love, and strong political stances hooked on
pot?  Perhaps it is because this generation was known for using drugs
and alcohol extensively for recreation in their younger years and they
just never stopped.  In fact they most likely began using before the age
of 30.  Another huge problem  is pain killer addiction is on the rise.   Although the generations
prior to the baby boomers didn’t even like taking an aspirin, the
boomers are used to a quick fix to relieve emotional or physical pain. 
Baby boomers are also now dealing with the deaths of aging parents or
being sandwiched in between aging parents and young children.  Also, the
nation is  in one of the worst economic times it has seen in many years with some  baby boomers  losing their  jobs with no new jobs to go to.

If there is any  hope to this era of rising drug addiction among baby boomers,  they do seek treatment, unlike when they were younger, and   it was not socially acceptable to admit they had a problem.  However, with the rising costs of health care, will they receive the treatment they need?  Unfortunately, many of the treatment programs today do not take insurance or if they do, it only pays a small portion of their stay
in treatment.  Will society be able to support all the baby boomers as
they get older?  Researchers project by the year 2020, with the rise in
the 50 to 59 age group needing treatment, we will most likely need to
double the number of rehab facilities.  Health care providers need to
pay close attention to their patients.  Memory loss  can definitely be a
result of long time marijuana abuse and not just the onset of
Alzheimers Disease .   So it is time to step out of denial and step into
the harsh reality that marijuana is an addictive substance.  It is
never too late to seek treatment.
Sherry Gaba, LCSW, is a Psychotherapist in private practice in
Agoura, CA.  She is the author of The Law of Sobriety: Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recover.   She is the
Psychotherapist and Life Coach on Celebrity Rehab on camera and behind the scenes on VH1 with Dr. Drew.  She is a published author and has articles in
Cosmopolitan, New York Daily News, the Huffington Post, Los Angeles Time, and has been a media expert on CNN, Fox, San Diego Living, E ! News, Prime News, Inside Edition, and KTLA LA.  Please contact her for life coaching anywhere in the world, teleseminars, speaking engagements, and psychotherapy.   She can be reached at or check  her web site at  Follow her on Twitter: