The tragic death of comedian-actor Robin Williams has shocked tens of millions of fans around the world. Williams, who may go down in history as one of the best comedic talents of his time, usually appeared in public with a warm smile and a sparkle in his eyes. Yet the private pain he went through proved too much in the end. If nothing else, his passing reminds us of the need for constant intervention.
Williams was never shy to talk about his lifelong struggles with drugs and alcohol. He was very candid in the hopes that the stories of his life could help others overcome their own addictions. His problems began with his meteoric rise to fame on US television in the 1970s.
In 2003, after more than 20 years of sobriety, Williams admitted he had relapsed. He entered recovery and seemed fine until a second relapse in 2006. More recently, Williams entered rehab a third time when he checked into The Lodge, a Minnesota treatment facility specialising in helping recovering alcoholics maintain sobriety.
We will never truly understand all of the things Mr Williams was personally struggling with. Only those who have been through their own battles with addiction will even begin to get a glimpse of this tragic story. If anything good can come of this, it would be a renewed commitment in our communities to do a better job of intervening with those struggling with drugs and alcohol.
Robin Williams’ story is one that suggests we need a new commitment to intervention at multiple levels. When we talk about multilevel interventions, we are not talking about the individual intervention a family conducts on behalf of an addicted loved one; we are talking about a conscious effort, at the community level, to identify addicts and alcoholics and help them at every turn.
It is true that most addicts and alcoholics cannot be helped unless they willingly accept that help. So what can we do? In some cases, persistently stepping in and offering support and encouragement can be the motivation necessary to seek professional help. In other cases, communities might need to establish drug and alcohol charities or invest themselves in alcohol or drug support groups. Although no one knows for sure what community involvement would mean across-the-board, there at least needs to be a discussion to get things going in this direction.
Drugs and alcohol claim far too many lives on both sides of the Atlantic. Indeed, around the world there are millions of people whose lives are being destroyed by addictive substances. Be it alcohol, illicit drugs or so-called ‘legal highs’, we are losing far too many people. However, we do not have to stand by and do nothing.
Part of the multilevel intervention concept is a change in attitudes about drugs and alcohol. Could it be that we treat alcohol consumption too loosely, for example? Could it be that our attitudes about drink and drugs are lax enough to be contributing to the problem? It is something we need to seriously look at. It seems entirely possible that the growing drug and alcohol problem worldwide is directly related to our abandoning the moral implications that were once attached to abusive and addictive behaviour.
Get Help Now
As the world continues to struggle with the implications of Mr Williams’ death, we encourage you to get help for your drug or alcohol problem right now. Addiction Helper is here to assist you by way of our 24-hour recovery helpline. Our confidential services are available to you free of charge.