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Depicting Addiction, Treatment, and Recovery
The Impact on Family

Profile On:
Caterina Scorsone

Caterina Scorsone portrays Amelia Shepherd on ABC’s hit show Private Practice, a character who has been in recovery since she was a teenager. As a successful neurosurgeon Amelia is not what most would consider a ‘typical addict,’ but this past season she was faced with pressures, which ultimately led to a relapse. When Caterina was approached with the idea that her character, which she had been portraying as a recovering addict, was about to begin a downward spiral she dove in head first researching the role and seeking the advice of real life individuals who had used the same substances as Amelia. Caterina states, “We looked at physical symptoms and psychological motivators; it was very important to me that the portrayal was not a caricature.” By taking on the challenge of creating a relatable and accurate character Caterina hopes to leave audiences with the notion that   “…addiction can afflict anyone, regardless of background or tax bracket. It is not a moral problem. It is not the domain of a particular subset of society. Addiction is a disease that can ruin the lives of anyone including wonderful, really exceptional, good people.”

Through a strong foundation of research the character of Amelia Shepherd is able to leave audiences with a lasting message: that addiction is a true medical problem that requires proper treatment. With the help and understanding of her close friends Amelia courageously chose to take her life back. Challenging stereotypes about addicts is incredibly important to consider when creating characters and storylines about addiction. By showing audiences the truth about addiction, people will be less likely to ignore the signs of addiction in those closest to them, especially those who may not fill the ‘typical addict’ mold, and encourage them to seek the help they need. 

Depiction Suggestions:

 Portray the impact of addiction and  recovery on the family, and the  importance of family support in  recovery.

  • Pay attention to age. Adults 65 and older are least likely to say they know someone in recovery from addiction; to believe that substance abuse addictions can be prevented; and to believe that someone in recovery can live a productive life.
  • Consider gender. Women are far more likely than men to believe that someone in recovery can live a productive life.
  • Depict them honestly. The older a person is, the less likely they are to feel comfortable with someone in recovery from alcohol or drug abuse. Conversely, twice as many adults ages 18 to 24 believe that willpower plays a major role in recovering from addiction compared to the general public, although this is not the case. 

Did you know?

  • According to the 2011, National Survey  of Substance Abuse Treatment  Services, the days of locking someone  in a room to “dry out” are over. Today,  77 percent of treatment facilities  routinely use medications as part of  the detoxification process. 
  • One-third  (34 percent) of substance abuse  treatment admissions were employed  full- or part-time when they were  admitted for treatment. 

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The PRISM Awards celebrate the accurate portrayal of substance abuse, treatment and recovery, and mental health in television, film, music, and comic book entertainment.

This year's ceremony will also include a special tribute honoring our Nation's Military for their selfless service!

We hope that you will join us in celebrating the
ART of making a difference!

All to often, myths about addiction can cloud judgment and affect awareness.
Here is the reality...

Myth: Addiction is a disease that can be cured.

 Reality: Recovery is a “complicated,  individualized, and lifetime maintenance  process.” People who have been sober  and drug-free for decades still consider  themselves to be in recovery.  Unfortunately, many people falsely believe that rehabilitation or other  interventions lead to being cured of the disease. The reality is that many  people relapse and struggle with  cravings. While the addiction can be  treated, it cannot be cured. That’s part  of the chronicity of the condition.  Nonetheless said one participant  in Picture This: “There aren’t enough  depictions of people in recovery as  ‘normal’ going through normal lifetime  events,” such as sending their kids off to  college, retiring or taking a vacation.

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Portions of this Newsletter 
have been adapted from 
Picture This: Treatment and Recovery

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