E! True Hollywood Stories: Heather Locklear

E! True Hollywood Stories:
Heather Locklear






Okay. Dr Reef Karim, first I want to thank you for sitting down for THS Biggest Scandals Ever.


[01:01:38] DR REEF KARIM / C0003S01

(LAUGHING) Up until now!



Exactly. Now we’re going to have somebody transcribe this entire interview. For them… tell us your name and your title and how it’s spelled and how you want to be credited for the show.


[01:01:49] DR REEF KARIM / C0003S01

Yeah. Dr Reef Karim, uh, Director of the Control Center in Beverly Hills, and my Twitter is @drreef, which would be great if you could put that in there, Assistant Clinical Professor, UCLA.



Perfect. And you just spell your name out for us.


[01:02:03] DR REEF KARIM / C0003S01

Yeah. Reef, R-E-E-F, Dr Reef Karim, K-A-R-I-M.



Perfect. So we’re here to talk…





So let’s talk a little bit about the connection between celebrity and drug abuse, substance abuse, well known and well documented type of thing, and if you can kind of relate that to Heather Locklear.


[01:02:33] DR REEF KARIM / C0003S01

Well, drug abuse and alcohol abuse are prominent everywhere. Uh, you don’t have to be a celebrity to have a problem with alcohol and drug abuse. We all know that, but it’s the celebrities that most often are the ones that are highlighted about their drug abuse, mental health or alcohol abuse problems. The hard part about being a celebrity is treatment because you get ‘special’


treatment, you don’t get ‘good’ treatment. And there’s a big difference there. Special treatment means your manager doesn’t want you to do six months of rehab and aftercare because you gotta do a movie in three weeks so let’s figure it all out and do six months of work in two weeks. Special treatment’s not good.



Let’s talk a little bit about the rehab. Essentially you said, specifically for someone like Heather, they had a month worth of this. How much do you really need to overcome a serious substance abuse problem?


[01:03:25] DR REEF KARIM / C0003S01

Okay. So if you’ve got a serious substance abuse problem, you’re looking at a long time that you’re doing treatment, because what is the purpose of rehab? What is the purpose of treatment? It’s lifestyle modification changes. That means changing your friends, it means different, a different way to relate to your family, a different way to look at yourself, a different way to look at your career.


It’s changing your own feelings about you, it’s growing mentally, physically and spiritually. How do you do that in two weeks? How do you do that in a month? That is a lifelong process but at a minimum you’re looking at about six months of really good intensive work on yourself in order to start that process.



What are the extra stresses the celebrity has going through rehab?


[01:04:14] DR REEF KARIM / C0003S01

So… I’ve treated a fair number of celebrities and one of the biggest problems and the biggest obstacles is there’s no privacy. You’re constantly in the spotlight, and let’s be honest, there are a lot of celebrities that are not just celebrities because they’re talented, they’re celebrities because they seek validation, they seek the adoration, they look for that public persona. We all


heard the expression that, that bad publicity is better than no publicity. For some people, they want validation so bad that even if they screw up but it goes on camera and it’s talked about, that’s better than not being talked about at all. So that internal need for validation is something that really needs to be addressed in treatment, and what I do specifically is I remove that cloak, that,


that cape of celebrity, that, that, that possession of celebrity, get rid of it so I can deal with the person underneath the celebrity cuz that’s the person that’s affected by the mental, drug and alcohol problems.



So is there a correlation in your mind between actors from the artistic community and, uh, issues whether it be depression or, uh, addictive behaviour?


[01:05:29] DR REEF KARIM / C0003S01

(CAMERA MOVING) To me, the key to mental health disorders and looking at who may be more prone or more vulnerable, it’s how much of a foundation do you have in regards to your coping skills and your ability to deal with life and then, uh, that’s on one side of it, and on the other side of it it’s what kind of traumas have you had, who, wh-, how were you raised, what kid of attachment


did you have with your parents and your caregivers, how, how healthy was your childhood. If you’re a childhood star, guess what, your childhood was probably not the healthiest childhood in the world. You didn’t get a lot of your typical needs met that you get when you’re a child. So you have to weigh the risks and traumas with how healthy that person is developmentally from, from early on.



With somebody like Heather who’s been in the entertainment business since high school, what are some of the challenges for her to have healthy relationships. She’s had two failed marriages and one engagement that fell apart. Kind of tell me what are the challenges they have as celebrities?


[01:06:30] DR REEF KARIM / C0003S01






A bit part about anybody achieving a good, healthy relationship in your adult life is learning the skills of developing a relationship in your childhood, your adolescence, your early 20s and in to your mid, late 20a. Meaning you don’t just wake up one day and you’re like a perfect person and a perfect candidate for a relationship. You have to develop those skills. And if in your childhood


you’re completely focused on being somebody else, like another character, or you’re completely focused on what other people want, or you don’t have the history of dealing with the opposite sex or your own sex or developing an attachment to your parents – you have no skills. And if you come in with no emotional attachment relationship skills and suddenly you’re 27 and you’re in


a relationship or you’re married of the entire world is watching your relationship?   First off, it’s a ton of pressure and secondly, you’re not ready for it and you’re not skilled for it and chances are it’s going to go bad.



Not having those skills in some ways makes them more predisposed to substance abuse.


[01:07:40] DR REEF KARIM / C0003S01

Yes. So, let’s take it a step farther. Now you don’t have those skills, you’re in a relationship that’s being watched by everyone in the world, what are you going to do? You, unless you go to therapy, unless you go to analysis, you’re going to have a really hard time dealing with that relationship. So what do you do? Not everybody does it but a lot of celebrities escape, numb out, quiet their feelings,


self-medicate their feelings. And how do they do that? They do that with drugs and alcohol. And the most common thing nowadays is prescription pills.





Let’s go ahead and talk about Heather specifically.


[01:08:32] DR REEF KARIM / C0003S01




Uh, like I said earlier, she had a couple of failed relationships. After she and Ritchie Sambora split, she had that incident in March of 2008 where somebody claiming to be her doctor called and said that she had, either threatened it or they were fearful that she was going to commit suicide. Kind of explain that to me. What may have been going through her mind and you don’t have to speculate so much as to kind of explain what would drive somebody that point.


[01:09:04] DR REEF KARIM / C0003S01

We good?





[01:09:05] DR REEF KARIM / C0003S01

Okay. So when you think of suicide, what is suicide? Wh-, an expression I use is suicide is a long term solution to a short term problem. So basically what that means is that you are feeling completely overwhelmed with wherever you are in your life, be it a mental health problem or a relationship problem, a, a family problem, whatever it is, and you can’t find a solution. There is no solution that


has penetrated your mind to where you feel like you can get out of it. So you feel like well, I don’t know what else to do, I have no other coping skills, I have no one to turn to – that’s the kind of person that starts thinking or contemplating about suicide, cuz they don’t feel like they have a way out. And that’s very similarly the kind of person that would abuse drugs, pills and alcohol because


they just want to numb out the feelings. They don’t want to feel the bad feelings so they want to take them away.



In your opinion… why do you feel… there’s tendency for celebrities to be busted for DUI, why do you think that’s the case?


[01:10:05] DR REEF KARIM / C0003S01

First off, anyone and everyone can be busted for a DUI, we all know that, we sa-… I can just drive down the 405 in L.A. and see random people being stopped all over the highway for DUI. But it is publicized just a- a- an incredibly different way when it’s a celebrity that’s ge-, that gets busted for a DUI, let’s be honest. So we’re going to hear about it so much more than we are the average


person. But you know, there’s, uh… for some celebrities there’s a sense of entitlement. There’s a sense of above the law. There’s a sense of you know what, I can go to this – and, and there’s a lot more parties when you’re a celebrity – I can go to a bunch of these parties, a bunch of these red carpet events, I can have a couple, I can drive home, no big deal, and, and even if I do


get busted, you know what, I can probably talk my way out of it. And I think that when we do hear about certain celebrities that argue with the police or, or feel like they’re above the law and it creates this huge tension, I think that’s what we’re seeing.



There seems to be there’s, a component of recovery then is really PR driven. Where after something like a DUI happens, they’re forced to go into rehab. Why is that the case in your opinion?


[01:11:10] DR REEF KARIM / C0003S01

So let’s talk a little more about rehab and motivations towards rehab. Some celebrities go to rehab because they’re sick, they have a mental health problem or an addiction problem or a relational problem and they need to get better. They’re motivated, they want to do it, they get better. Other celebrities go to rehab because their entourage, their team, their family says you need to go to


rehab and you need to clean yourself up because you can’t make movies until you do it, you can’t do any more shows and tours until you do it, you can’t come back to this family until you do it. Either way, they’re still going to go to rehab and they’re still going to get treatment. The hardest one is the celebrity that’s not motivated to get treatment and views treatment as a publicity stunt and a


way to go in and take their C, D level status and move it up a notch because they’re now being publicized as being in rehab. And as a doctor who’s worked in rehab and run a rehab center, it’s so obvious. It’s obvious on day one because they either need a better acting coach or [CHUCKLES] uh, they need to say something differently, because it’s obvious when someone’s not


motivated to get help.



I want to change gears a little bit about the idea of a fizzling star. What does it mean to a celebrity as they age? How does that affect their real self, they’re no longer the beautiful buxom blond from the 80s and now is… approaching her 50s and is running out of roles?


[01:12:46] DR REEF KARIM / C0003S01

Some celebrities are… they get it, they’ve got a good foundation, they’re talented, they, they know who they are and they’re cool. And whether they’re 20, 30, 40, 50 or 60, they know who they are, they know their identity. Other celebrities, especially childhood celebrities or people that h-, don’t have a really solid foundation around them, they have a really, really rough time with aging…


because when you’re not in a spotlight, when you’re not getting that validation for beautiful you are or how talented you are or how tough you are or whatever, and you go on and you have less roles and less popularity and less people care about you and less people are validating you or adoring you, and your i- entire identity is based on that validation, guess what, you’re going to feel lousy,


you’re going to get anxious, you’re going to get depressed, you’re going to be sad about your aging and the way you look and everything else about you. And, you know, sometimes we see that leading to very desperate consequences. .



Let’s talk again specifically about Heather. In 2007, after divorcing Ritchie Sambora, she went back with Jack Wagner, her costar from Melrose Place.   They were engaged and that engagement ended in November. She had several issues with rehab and staying clean up until that point. How much of an impact does the ending of a relationship have on somebody alone and then somebody in the public eye?


[01:14:16] DR REEF KARIM / C0003S01

The ending of a relationship can be incredibly traumatic for anyone, a man, a woman, whoever, particularly if it was a very strong, loving relationship where there was some sense of co-dependency. Co-dependency meaning I define myself through you. You define yourself through me. If you have that kind of a relationship where it’s either one-sided or both people are so reliant on each


other… and that stops, you crumble. Your identity has just blown up. You don’t know who you are anymore cuz you knew who you were dating that person, and when you’re no longer dating that person, you don’t know who you are. And then you’re lost and then you’re confused and then you’re sad and then you’ve missed out on that person and, and you’re a mess. And when you’re


a mess, if you have coping skills and you have a really good foundation and a good identity, you get through it, like the average person gets through a breakup. If you don’t have that foundation, if you’re constantly in the public eye, constantly reminded of your breakup, constantly seeing the other celebrity in the news… there’s constant triggers and constant reminders, it, you just get


worse and worse and worse and you don’t have a solid foundation to, to hold onto to get better.



Tell me a little about love addiction and its presence in Hollywood, especially for celebrities.


[01:15:40] DR REEF KARIM / C0003S01

So a lot of people are talking about the concept of love addiction. I call it more of a pathological attachment disorder or a relational disorder, but the, the theory is that you get addicted to the adoration, the validation, the love you get from a person or from a lot of people, and you end up doing toxic, desperate actions. You end up in these toxic relationships. You end up defining yourself through


another person to your own demise. You do all sorts of crazy things, and when you don’t get what you want out of that relationship – which you never will if you’re having a toxic relationship – you get so sad that you might medicate your feelings or drink or use drugs or pop a bunch of prescriptions to just tune out or to try to feel better.



That’s kind of what happened in January with Heather… and then the phone call. Tell me a little bit about, her sister apparently called that she was going to end her life. We kind f touched on it earlier but if you can use, you know, love addiction or the loss of a relationship or identity and kind of lead our way into it again?


[01:16:51] DR REEF KARIM / C0003S01

So when you have the loss of a relationship, uh, and you are somebody who is involved in toxic relationships to your own demise, that loss and crumbling of your identity, being in a co-dependent relationship can lead to all sorts of acting out or all sorts of numbing out. Often, that numbing out, when we hear about it in the press, is prescription drugs and alcohol. And when you’re under the


influence of alcohol and prescription drugs, and especially the combination, you’re not thinking clearly, you’re not thinking straight, there is no clarity there, there’s just a lot of confusion. And if you’re overwhelmed by confusion, occasionally we see somebody who’s so overwhelmed, they don’t know any other way out. And when you don’t know any other way out, you start doing


really c-, really crazy things like thinking about hurting yourself or others or wanting to withdraw from society.



Perfect answer. So Heather currently is in rehab, hopefully she’s there for more than 30 days, how does she get her life back on the path, restoring your own sanctity and also her image in the press?


[01:17:56] DR REEF KARIM / C0003S01

So… the im-, the… the most important thing I can say on this is even though somebody is a celebrity, underneath that celebrity status, they have a brain just like us and a body just like us and feelings and emotions just like us. The most important thing a celebrity can do in regards to treatment is to simply be a human being that’s getting treated as a human being. Do what you’re


supposed to do, go to rehab for 30 to 90 days, do after care for three to six months, get a sponsor, go to AA meetings, get a really good psychiatrist, do what you’re supposed to do, get involved in the, in the sober community, the recovery community, work with your friends, work with your family to develop and identity and a stable foundation. Then once you have that stable identity


and foundation as a person, as a human being, then go back and be the celebrity that you are, but a slightly modified version of who you are.



Kind of going back into the rehab world, tell me what a typical rehab experience is like for a celebrity.


[01:19:07] DR REEF KARIM / C0003S01

So a good rehab experience for a celebrity (CHUCKLES) is someone who comes in, is not treated with a ton of entitlement, is not allowed to go to red carpet events every Tuesday and Thursday night, is not getting higher thread count sheets than anybody else, it’s simply a structured place where they can go to groups, they can go to meetings, they get a primary therapist, they’re


assessed from a psychological perspective to see if there’s any mental health problems, they’re detoxed, they’re developing and learning life skills in a very structured, safe environment. That happens for a celebrity or a non-celebrity, but in the celebrity case that structure is key, cuz most celebrities are allowed to do whatever they want. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been asked by


managers, agents, publicists, whoever, ‘hey, we don’t really want to send them to rehab so why don’t you just come to our hotel and in between their hair appointment and their massage, we might be able to squeeze you in, see if you can go talk to them for a little bit’. That is not treatment and that is not the way it should be. They should be coming to a structured environment to learn how to


modify and change their lifestyle.



So would you say the biggest thing missing for recovery is aftercare? What would be an ideal aftercare program for somebody going through something of this magnitude?


[01:20:28] DR REEF KARIM / C0003S01

Yeah, so what we see after rehab – here’s the thing, people, a, a, a, a lot of celebrities and non-celebrities think that rehab is like this magical fantasyland place where you go for 30 days and you’re cleaned and changed and everything’s great and you get out and you’re done. No way. That is just the beginning of your treatment experience. Aftercare is what you do after rehab.


For some people it’s going, living in a sober living and it, going to an intensive outpatient program. For others, it’s an intensive outpatient program for three to six months. I run one of those intensive outpatient programs. I know, er, at the Control Center what we do when we’re treating people and what we’re doing is we’re integrating treatment, we’re dealing with the family, we’re dealing with the


if they’re, if they have a spouse, we’re dealing with how they build their relationships with other people, how they deal with their stress, what their mood state is like, what kind of cravings and triggers they have for whatever substances they were using to numb out or self-medicate. You know, there’s, there’s a spiritual aspect to the disease too, and not in a religious way but in a, just believing you’re worthy of being sober, having a sense of purpose as a


human being beyond your celebrity status. All of those things are things that need to be addressed when you’re in treatment and you’re recovering.



Perfect. Last question’s a non-question… (UNINTELLIGIBLE) views of celebrity, recovery, rehab, again, that little world?


[01:21:55] DR REEF KARIM / C0003S01

I think it, one of the most important points here is, is foundation and having an identity. And the average person, you know, you get stressed out, somebody breaks up with you or you have a fight with your dad or something goes on and, and you go back to your house and you talk it over with your girlfriend or your roommate or, or whatever, and you have a private time and a, and a, and a


chance to build your foundation and your coping skills cuz you developed it in childhood, in high school and beyond. A celebrity doesn’t have that private time. They’re constantly being watched and monitored and, and they don’t have a lot of the skills sometimes that you and I would get in our childhoods growing up. And you know, there’s an old saying that, that, uh, if you took the U.S. and


you turned it on its side and you shook it really hard, all the unstable people would fall into L.A. and, and that’s [CHUCKLES], and that’s what we have in front of us. And, and to use that metaphor, anybody who doesn’t have a good, solid foundation, an identity of their own, how they deal with stress, how they deal with conflict, how they deal with anger, those people are vulnerable to


addictions and mental health problems, celebrity or non-celebrity. And when you heighten the stress level and the attention behind that person, meaning a celebrity, they’re that much more vulnerable for problems.



I mean personally I have to wonder that if your role in life, your career is assuming the identity of other people, how important is it to have that foundation for yourself and why is there such a tendency for people not to have that identity to one’s self, is that draw to being somebody else, that part of the acting world is so alluring to them, cuz there’s a void without, or what do you think?


[01:23:35] DR REEF KARIM / C0003S01

Yeah, yeah. I, I’ve had an acting background myself and, and I feel like the draw of acting is being able to have… multiple experiences, multiple lifetimes, multiple characters all in your own one lifetime. That’s what’s so exciting about acting, and if it was a direct correlation that the biggest and most solid foundation actors having really great family and friends and relationships


became the best actors, then great, everyone should have a solid foundation and just be good. But we know there are lots of actors out there that are living life on the edge, that have very few emotional skills in their own lives, but are able to play these amazing characters, and those people, a lot of them are just, they can’t function in their own life, they can… take on the role of all these


different characters but they can’t function in just day to day structured society. And those are people that, you know, as a society we hope they develop some kind of a foundation so that they’re happy and, and they can navigate through life on their because one day, those roles won’t be there and we just hope that those people have the skills to be happy and to enjoy their lives outside of the





Perfect. Anybody have any questions? Nope. CREW CHATTER/ROOM TONE




Perfect. Thank you so much.


[01:25:33] DR REEF KARIM / C0003S01





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