Heard on All Things Considered Michael Martin; Host

Today, funeral services are being held for Nelsan Ellis, the 39-year-old actor who was probably best known for his role on HBO’s series “True Blood.” He died last week from complications due to alcohol withdrawal. Upon his death, his family issued a statement saying Nelsan had struggled with drug and alcohol abuse for years, but that he “was ashamed of his addiction and thus was reluctant to talk about it during his life,” unquote.

Now, he’s certainly not alone among celebrities who kept their problems with substance abuse under wraps, but author Neil Steinberg, who’s written a couple of books about overcoming addiction, says it’s not at all uncommon for recovering addicts from all walks of life to feel extreme guilt and shame. But that can keep them from getting the help they need to save their lives. He’s with us now from WBEZ in Chicago. Neil, thanks so much for speaking with us.

STEINBERG: There’s a quote in the book from Russell Brand, the comic, which is a very serious sort of quote. And I’m going to read it really quickly because I think it sums up what the problem we’re talking about here is. He says, “it is difficult to feel sympathy for these people. It is difficult to regard some bawdy drunk and see them as sick and powerless. It is difficult to suffer the selfishness of a drug addict who will lie to you and steal from you and then forgive them and offer them help. Can there be any other disease that renders its victims so unappealing?” 


What a profound statement from a comedian, it certainly sums up the family/social aspect of addiction!

Dr. Raymond Oenbrink