The Celebrity Therapist

One of the clients I had the privilege to work with on season 4
of Celebrity Rehab is actor Eric
Roberts. Eric has been acting since he was 5, and has a reputation for taking
on edgy roles and playing them fearlessly. He’s been in many movies, including The Dark Knight, had a recurring role on
the TV series Heroes, and was
nominated for an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor in 1985 for his performance in Runaway Train.

            Eric was in a
very serious car crash in 1981 that left him in a coma for three days and
changed his face forever. He became a heavy cocaine user, adding it to the
marijuana he said he has smoked all his adult life. He was arrested for
possession and eventually kicked the cocaine habit, but ended up struggling
with prescription medications. Plus, he never gave up the marijuana.

            I read an
interview that Eric did recently with ET Online in which he said, “I’ve been a
pothead all my adult life.” And on Celebrity
he said, “Anything bad or negative that ever happened in my career or
in my personal life had to do with the abuse of drugs, completely.” (You can
see it in the season trailer here:

            So why did he
keep smoking marijuana? In the interview with ET he said, “I liked it, it makes
me nice, and I’m basically by nature a curmudgeon, so smoking pot makes you
very pleasant.” And that’s not an exaggeration, because Eric has been arrested
for spousal abuse and for trying to assault a police officer. He has rage
issues when he’s not smoking marijuana.

            Rage is an
interesting emotion–one we sometimes characterize as primitive. And that’s not
far off the mark. Rage stems from our very primitive “fight or fight” response;
in the very olden days, if our life was in danger, a physiological response
would kick in and we would be able to either run away really fast or else try
to fight our way out of the problem.

            All kinds of
physiological responses once enabled us to deal with the type of extreme
physical danger humans used to face routinely. The problem is that these
extreme physiological responses still kick when we face stresses that are not
really threats, and some people just don’t know how to deal with them. So they
act on them, often violently. But while violence may have been the perfect
response for fighting off a bear, it’s not appropriate for when you get angry
at your spouse or a police officer or anyone else who has done something to
tick you off.

            Eric’s answer
was to control his rage with marijuana–which does, indeed, dull some
physiological responses. That’s an answer, but it’s not a solution. The
solution is to learn to put into context the things that make us angry, so that
small events do not spark large reactions. When we can do that, we don’t need
any substance to dull our perception or our reaction. We can feel fully, but
also think fully and see the small stuff for what it really is.


Sherry Gaba, LCSW, is a Psychotherapist and Life Coach on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew on VH1 and the author of The Law of Sobriety. She is a frequent contributor to anthologies, blogs, newsletters, and is a sought after speaker. She has appeared on Jane Velez-Mitchell, Hollywood Confidential, Inside Edition, E!News, CNN Prime News, San Diego Living, San Diego Fox, and KTLA. Contact Sherry at or go to her blog at to learn more about Sherry’s private practice, psychotherapy, life coaching (by telephone all over the world), teleseminars, webinars, audios, and meditation CD’s.

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