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Hanala Stadner is the best-selling author of the self-help book, “My Parents Went Through the Holocaust and All I Got Was This Lousy T-shirt”, and a regular guest on the CBS Early Show, Dateline, Extra and others. She was also the long-time host of her own L.A. talk show, who knows first hand about the bad celebrity behavior infecting Hollywood – and fascinating the public. Once upon a time, she suffered from the same addictions and afflictions that Paris, Nicole, and Britney et al are suffering from today. Because of her past (alcoholism, eating disorders and drugs), and her 18 year career as a Drug and Alcohol Counselor, she is qualified to offer her own very candid take on the reasons behind the recent string of very public celebrity indulgences gracing tabloid covers.

DISH: What’s behind the sudden flurry of bad celebrity behavior?

These girls, they have it all- looks, youth, thinness, money, fame and also neurosis, insecurity, fear, and anxiety. These girls have problems of abundance but they are still problems. Who are they going to complain to? Who’s going to feel sorry for them? I can relate, having parents who were in the holocaust, they weren’t exactly feeling sorry for me.

They are also isolated, they don’t know who their real friends are. People are paid a lot of money to get a shot of their cellulite. The bigger the zit the more the photographer gets paid. Imagine if that were you.

Also, it doesn’t matter what the world thinks of you. If you think you are a fraud or you are worried about your image, then you might need to take the edge off and I think one of the problems is entourage availability. The drugs are always there. Drugs. Yes. And don’t forget alchohol is a drug in liquid form. It doesn’t matter if you drink it, or snort it, or if a doctor gives it to you. It can still wreck your life, there’s no doubt about that.

There’s another factor- they’re at the top. They’ve reached the top of their field, they have all the money, they’ve had all the men, and they’re still miserable. They’re used to the struggle of trying to get ahead, so when you’re used to struggling, you create more struggle. It’s the “Attractor Factor” -you bring towards you what you’re used to-so drug addicts find drug addicts, alcoholics find alcoholics-but you don’t know you’re doing it.

For example, when Britney started hanging out with Paris Hilton, it’s funny, but in AA we called that type of association hanging out with “lower companions”. And how bizarre is it to call Paris Hilton a lower companion, a billionaire, a lower companion? But again, this proves that money doesn’t fix it, addiction doesn’t discriminate.

Everyone has 2 brains-one brain says, ‘I shouldn’t do drugs. That’s the cortex, and then there’s the ‘emotional’ or ‘stupid’ brain, it’s irrational. It says, ‘I feel terrible, get me out of this feeling’. Then the cortex says ‘if you do drugs, you will do things that will make you feel worse’. And then the stupid brain says, ‘shut up’, and drugs put the cortex to sleep.

DISH: Why does it seem that celebs are acting up more than ever?

First of all, right now it’s being publicized more, whereas in the past it’s been hidden. On my blog, hanala there’s a segment called ‘Alcoholic Barbie and co-dependent Ken’. It helps explain how the families and friends, and the celebrity’s entourage enable the addict to keep using. I had very famous client who said he could never run out of drugs because people wanted to hang out with him, so they’d always come over with drugs. Some of my clients were postal workers and some were Oscar winners, and they all had the same feeling. Mostly guilt. They feel so bad about themselves and what they’re doing, that they take drugs to make themselves feel better.

We’re all pre-disposed to be addicted to something- some have cigarettes, some have food, some have sex, and that’s the nature of addiction. Addiction is very time consuming. You plot and plan around it all day. It’s like a second career for these girls. First you’re an addict. Then you’re a star.

DISH: Can you talk a little bit about the girls that are most in the news these days?

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen: It’s so universal, it’s how they talk to themselves. They are never thin enough, they are never beautiful enough, they are never rich enough. The bad reviews, will they ever work again? Are people going to think they have no talent. They’re like the elephant in the living room that nobody ever talks about.

Lindsey Lohan: Again, if you understand addiction and how it doesn’t really discriminate, then you understand what happens with these girls. I think she has more research to do; she hasn’t hit bottom. It’s more important for her to do drugs than anything else- her career, health, her relationship. It’s more important for her to get out of her discomfort. Just coming in and out of rehab, you can tell.

Paris Hilton: Paris behavior really does explain line by line what goes on in an addict’s head and how they throw their lives away. It doesn’t matter how much money they have. You can talk to Paris, and it might seem that she’s the nicest girl; in my experience, alcoholics can be the nicest people because they’re sensitive. Partying is an interesting term for something that destroys someone’s life if it’s done too much. The next time you’re sitting there thinking, ‘If I only had enough money’, think of Paris.

Britney Spears- There’s that talented, smart girl, and then there’s this madness side, like Einstein could split an atom but he couldn’t comb his hair. Some of the nicest mothers I’ve known were meth addicts and their children lived in dirt. Putting her child between her and a steering wheel, no one in their right mind would do that. So obviously she’s not in her right mind. Drugs make people stupid, no matter how smart you were when you started taking them.

Nicole Ritchie: Some time during the pregnancy process, most people will stop doing drugs, smoking and drinking, while others will continue and feel guilty, and to ease the guilt they do more drugs. When you’re really really thin, and you’re making a baby in your body, and you’re not eating, the baby will start eating you. That poor baby. Talk about a baby being born without any baby fat, if it’s born. It’s sad. it’s very sad.

Angelina Jolie: A person who’s not telling themselves the truth- who needs therapy- but believes that saving children and saving the world is therapy enough, but they still can’t save themselves. Who’s going to insure her for a movie? If she’s that thin-she could just collapse on the set.

DISH: Can you blame the parents for this bad behavior?

The parents play a part. They are a part of the dysfunction. A lot of times parents will not take responsibility. It’s not a matter of blame, it’s a matter of seeing the part a parent plays. For example, ‘You are a bad girl’. Most parents say that, but some kids believe it and think ‘I’m bad’ and then live up to that expectation.

DISH: How does a celebrity-addicted public fuel the fire?

We all want to feel better about ourselves. We can look at some of these famous people and say, ‘I’m doing better than they are’. You bet. Also, it’s like picking a scab. We’re all interested in what’s underneath that tough exterior. You know you’re not going to get that revelation unless you peek over the veritable back fence, you’re never going to see what’s really going on in their lives. The tabloids peek over that back fence for you. Plus, the truth is only interesting if you know the person-and you know the movie star.

DISH: What about the paparazzi?

The paparazzi offer people a great relief from what’s really going on- like their kid can’t read, all the poverty in the country where people feel powerless, or it’s not a good day in the war, or they have erectile dysfunction and can’t get along with their spouse. They have personal issues that are overwhelming. So for a diversion they pick up a paper and think, ‘What are those bad girls in Hollywood doing this week?’

DISH: So is there any cure? Any hope for these people?

If we learn that our thoughts are not going to kill us, what’s harmful is denying our thoughts, distancing ourselves from our feelings. We must become self aware. Thinking is not going to kill us. If they could just learn to laugh and do aerobics they will be fine.

For more about Hanala Stadner, go to hanala / Issue 73 - September 2018
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