Arianna Huffington is known for her writing (HuffingtonPost.com is one of the leading websites for up-to-the-minute news) and for her marriage to Michael Huffington, a former politician turned movie producer who now identifies as a public servant.
The Results Of Divorce
The couple went through a tumultuous divorce in the public eye and their children were the greatest sufferers. Arianna and Michael ran against each other for the seat of California governor, and Christina chose to leave Los Angeles for boarding school in New Hampshire. When unhappy, Christina returned home. She was not eating much and starting drinking with some friends. One girlfriend introduced her to cocaine. The two used together, until the housekeeper found drugs in Christina’s closet. It wasn’t until her sophomore year in college that she found cocaine again.
Arianna and Michael’s daughter, Christina Huffington, is now sharing how her intense, yet privileged, upbringing contributed to the cocaine addiction that almost killed her.
Although she recognizes that she has grown up blessed, with financial security and opportunity that some only dream of, Christina still identifies as having a pit, or void, that needed to be filled. For Christina Huffington it was a pit of loneliness and emptiness that she believes millions of people can relate to, especially girls and young women. She was depressed, scared, anxious, and alone in a seemingly endless downward spiral. Substances provided a way to erase insecurities, fears, and feelings of inadequacy. In her words, “all of a sudden, with one line, I was on top of the world.” At sixteen years old, cocaine became her go-to medication for low self-esteem, nonexistent self-worth, and relentless belief that she was not “good enough.”
Addiction Does Not Discriminate
Addiction is an equal opportunity disease. Christina does not look like the girl with a cocaine addiction. Her lifestyle would not predict an addiction, but the disease can affect anyone at any time. Addiction is progressive in nature, meaning that symptoms and effects will only get worse when left untreated, and for Christina, it did not take long before her drug use progressed to using cocaine everyday. She was not attending glamorous parties or doing drugs with A list celebrities and socialites, instead Christina was alone in her dorm room, and later her apartment, using cocaine to escape from all the emotions she could not handle on her own.
During this painful time, Christina hid her drug abuse from everyone in her life. Even when she was using daily, no one knew. She got into Yale University, she had an internship at Glamour Magazine, and she seemed to actively participate in life, all while secretly battling a severe cocaine addiction.
Christina’s mother, Arianna, was not aware of her daughter’s problem, and Dr. Drew Pinsky, noted addiction specialist and physician, is not surprised. He told TODAY that, “Addicts are brilliant at doing this. It can be happening right under your nose, and you’ll never know it. This is why I always tell parents, if you see the slightest sign, you’re seeing the tip of the iceberg.”
Without any indicators, because Christina’s addiction convinced her to stay silent and isolated, Arianna did not know of her daughter’s drug use until the disease manifested itself physically. Christina accompanied her mom to a Glamour Magazine event honoring her mother as one of the recognized women of the year, and started experiencing paralyzing chest pains. Christina was forced to tell her mom about her cocaine binge the night before, and the ongoing abuse that had control of her life.
Journey to Rehabilitation
Christina went to rehab, first undergoing medically-monitored detoxification, and then participating in a formal treatment program. She has now been sober for over a year, and has been working on rebuilding her self-esteem and self-worth so that the pit is no longer seeking drugs and alcohol.
Christina is one of the millions of young people who have struggled with addiction. Unlike many of her peers, Christina had access to the financial resources to participate in the appropriate care. While she wants to provide a new face of drug addiction to show that the disease can affect anybody, the truth still remains that treatment is not available to everyone who suffered the way she did.
Christina and Arianna Huffington recognize that countless addicts are left untreated, and are instead arrested for drug-related crimes. This is not reducing the drug problem in our population. If Christina had been arrested for cocaine possession and put in jail instead of spending months in rehab, she would probably have returned to drug abuse upon release like the rest of the addicting population.
Arianna supports Christina in sharing her own story because she believes that Christina is successful if her story can prevent just one parent from getting the painful wake up call that she got, or give one young person the confidence to admit a drug problem and make changes the way her daughter did.
If you can relate to Christina’s story, as shared on TODAY: