They can't be the right role models!

Troubled stars

If their work can be termed brilliant, their personal life is just as messy. Over the years, music and movie stars have always made news for all the right and the wrong reasons.

Tragic life : Whitney Houston

They have produced great music, made marvellous films, won all the awards possible and hit the pinnacle of fame. Yet, a number of them lead troubled lives riddled with controversies, relationship woes and substance abuse.

Stars like Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Heath Ledger, Amy Winehouse and now Whitney Houston have died of drug overdose and causes unknown. With a number of youngsters looking up to these celebrities to the extent of worshipping them, does their behaviour have a negative impact on the youth?  

Says Deepti Swamy, a student of MSc Psychology in Jain College, “These are the prominent people who youngsters look up to. They are the role models for youngsters, who blindly imitate them. Personally, I have grown up listening to Michael Jackson and his death surely had an impact on me. Now I will not go near drugs even if anyone offers me.”

A young film-maker, Pavitra Chalam, has made many movies on social issues. Her film on drug abuse titled ‘My Friend the Addict’, inspired by the life of a dear friend, has been highly appreciated. She considers celebrities dying of drug abuse as a “bit of a shocker”. “But one good thing is that we have a very well-informed younger generation which realises that this isn’t really the path to take,” she notes. “These cases are really sad but in the long run, let’s hope lessons will be learnt,” she adds.

According to Pavitra, one of the most common reasons for addiction is peer pressure. “In order to shoot the film, I met a number of addicts and most of them were in the age group of 16 to 20, which is a really young age,” she informs. “But the wonderful part is that so many centres dealing with addiction are coming up. People are going out and asking for help. One has to admit that addiction is a disease and has to be treated,” she adds. 

Sunil Murthy, founder of Dare Foundation, a rehabilitation centre and a de-addiction professional for over 30 years, feels, “Addicts are not mad or bad. They are just sick. Alcohol per se isn’t addictive as one doesn’t get addicted to it after a couple of drinks. But drugs like heroin and cocaine are.

When youngsters look at their role models smoking cannabis or indulging in other forms of substance abuse, they do get affected. Addiction is a disease. It cannot be cured but has to be arrested.” 

Shekhar (name changed) had to battle drug addiction for many years before he got help.

“The Indian society does not understand substance abuse. It considers it a taboo more than a disease. The Western countries are much more aware. For instance, if someone comes home drunk or intoxicated in the West, he or she is admitted to a rehabilitation centre. But in India, there is a complete social denial,” he says.

He admits that even he got inspired by his role models. “I was an ardent devotee of Kurt Cobain and Jim Morrison. When I read about how they died, I found that really cool. I was under this false sense of freedom and considered myself to be a rebel until it got too out of hand,” he reveals.

Now he works with the same centre that rehabilitated him. “Addicts reach a stage when they realise that this habit is going to kill them. They just need to understand that treatment comes from within and in case of addition, the treatment can happen only one day at a time,” he advises.

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