POP INTERVIEW: Screenwriter Bill Borchert on Lindsay Lohan and Other Celebrities Suffering from Addictions

Emmy-nominated screenwriter William G. Borchert, also known by his nickname "Bill," wrote the made for television movie, My Name Is Bill W. Based on the real life founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, the James Garner film was more than familiar.

Emmy-nominated screenwriter William G. Borchert, also known by his nickname “Bill,” wrote the made for television movie, My Name Is Bill W. Based on the real life founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, the James Garner film was a little too familiar: Borcher himself was an alcoholic in the past. Through his work since, he tries to help people understand and combat alcoholism with his books and scripts.

William Borchert

I’ve been rooting for Amanda Bynes all this time, sort of, arguing she’s not crazy. I believe(d) she was doing all this for publicity. Do you think she has addiction issues, or am I right?
Most people don’t go around burning driveways or spending $1.2 million in a year on lavish and frivolous behavior like Amanda Bynes did just to get attention. In my opinion, as a recovered alcoholic for many years, such people either have some serious mental problems or a serious alcohol or drug addiction problem which can manifest itself like real insanity. Since I’m not an addiction counselor or psychiatrist, I can’t say what’s really going on except that based upon my experience I don’t believe she’s acting out like this just to get some God awful publicity. It’s much easier than this to attract coverage in the tabloids.

Lindsay Lohan has admitted to needing treatment. How can the actress see her career flourish again after rehab?
When it comes to Lindsay Lohan’s career, there’s a parallel example she should take a look at. Many in the business asked the same thing about Robert Downey, Jr.: “Will his career ever flourish again after most of Hollywood had given up on him and no insurance company would write a completion bond for any of his movies?” Today, he’s a megastar once again because he totally surrendered to the fact that he was powerless over alcohol and drugs, went for treatment and today, he earnestly works a 12-step program of recovery. If Lindsay Lohan seriously follows in Robert Downey Jr.’s footsteps, her career can flourish again too.

Why do artists like Amy Winehouse ultimately and unintentionally kill themselves when they know drugs and alcohol are bad?
Asking why an artist like Amy Winehouse killed herself under the influence of alcohol and drugs is like asking how many stars there are in the night sky. How can anyone possibly know? When I was an active alcoholic, I tried to commit suicide myself under the influence and didn’t know why. I don’t believe Amy did either. Addiction to alcohol or drugs is a disease that affects the mind, body and soul. Many say it’s a soul sickness that leads to confusion, self-hatred and total despair. You just want out of the pain. And when there seems to be no hope of finding a way out of this dark and frightening mental state, suicide too often seems like the only solution. The problem is, it’s usually a permanent solution to a temporary problem. For there is a solution, and millions like myself have found it. I write about it in great detail in my new book, When Two Loves Collide.

Does substance abuse really improve one’s art?
As an author and screenwriter, I would often write while under the influence, then pass out and wake up to pages filled with words that made no sense. Still, my alcoholism continued to try and convince me that I was a much better writer drunk than sober. No. Substance abuse does not improve one’s art, and I have many sober friends in the world of acting, music, writing and painting who will testify to that statement. They will tell you that alcohol and drug abuse gradually steals your talent and abilities, and only continued total sobriety can bring it all back.

How can we tell if celebrities have substance abuse problems if the news isn’t reporting on it? Can we see it in their faces and bodies?
Some people can hide or control their substance abuse problem to a large degree for quite some time, yet with many others, it explodes early and ugly and in many painful ways. For many celebrities, it becomes the kind of car wreck the press seems to enjoy covering. However, when a celebrity finally becomes serious about getting sober, they usually don’t announce it to the world – if they’re serious, that is. They begin to quietly work an anonymous 12-step recovery program and simply suit up and show up to face life as a sober person. So, if you can’t always tell if someone is still drinking or drugging, you can almost always tell when they’re not. They begin to live honest, productive and meaningful lives.

How many Hollywood types do you think are secret alcoholics and/or drug users?
There are more than 40 million alcoholics and drug addicts in the United States today. I’m sure Hollywood has its pro rata share. However, it may seem like filmdom has a larger percentage at times only because when the malady of alcoholism or drug addiction manifests itself in a celebrity, they usually hit the limelight, and their escapades hit the headlines at the same time.

Why does society glamorize binge drinking and partying but condemn being an alcoholic?
On one hand, most of society still doesn’t understand or accept the fact that alcoholism and drug addiction are diseases and not moral lapses or a weakness of the will. On the other hand, many in society still see drinking and even certain illegal drugs as a way to foster camaraderie, fun and social relaxation. They glamorize it. But when that camaraderie and fun begin to turn into lost jobs, broken homes, divorces and child abuse, society has a tendency to deny the problem exists because they have labeled the disease with a stigma and with shame. In my new book, When Two Loves Collide, I talk from experience about the effects of addiction on innocent spouses and children, the stigma of denial and what can be done to find a way out.

Nicole Russin aka. Richárde

Nicole Russin, also known as her alter ego Richárde, is a bestselling chef, experienced print journalist and beauty/editorial model. You may visit her official website at NicoleRussin.com.

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