Inexcess: In search of recovery

Help and support for people and families
dealing with drug and alcohol problems


Alcohol and drugs in the news

Addicted To Cosmetic Surgery???

Friday, February 13th, 2009 Addicted To Cosmetic Surgery???

This article conveys a non-traditional addiction relating to cosmetic surgery. Yet alas, there is a fundamental need to accept addiction as an addiction.

Alicia Douvall claims to be addicted to cosmetic surgery to the point whereby she is totally obsessed, according to an Independent article by Guy Adams (10 02 09).

It is suggested that Alicia is pumped up with silicone that if chucked into a nearby swimming pool, she might actually bob to the surface.

However, the lady in question has just booked herself into an exclusive though controversial rehabilitation clinic in Malibu suffering from a potentially fatal addiction.

Guy Adams says of her, “It has ravaged her body, alienated friends and family, and cost every penny of the fortune she accumulated telling red-tops about the peccadilloes of former boyfriends such as Mickey Rourke, Calum Best and Mick Hucknall. “Imagine playing Russian roulette with your life,” she says. “That’s what I’m doing. It’s out of control, and has cost me more than £1m. Before I decided to come to Malibu, I’d accepted that I was going to carry on with it until I was either bankrupt or dead.”

Notwithstanding, the young lady in question is not your conventional addict, dependent on the usual substances ie alcohol or cocaine. Hers, is an unlikely dependency that of cosmetic surgery. Douvall says, “I’ve had so many operations that I can’t feel my stomach, my left breast, or anything under my right arm.”

Moreover, this young lady first went under the knife as a tender teenager. At 29 she has clocked up more surgery, far to many procedures that she can indeed recall. She only knows that it exceeds in excess of a 100. Wow!

For the nitty gritty Alicia discloses that she has had over ‘15 boob jobs. In addition she states, “I’ve changed my eyes and nose, had facelifts. My philosophy is ‘if it can be changed, it will be.”

Some optimism may surface as British doctors have now refused to treat her. The flip side of that coin however is that Douvall is flying to the States and lying about her medical history.

For Alicia her condition is identified as that of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), she was diagnosed several years ago. It is also recognised as a psychiatric condition on the same sphere as that of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Inevitably, the condition facilitates the sufferer from becoming totally preoccupied with their physical appearance and getting distressed at small or non-existent defects.

Crucially, what needs to be established at this point is the fact that BDD was once described as vanity. The truth of the matter is that it is quite the reverse. Indeed the victims of the disorder believe themselves to be hideous, avoiding mirrors. Such is the extent they will worry for hours about how ugly they are and in some instances become extremely depressed and reclusive. Suicide rates in the US are 45 times the national average. Thus highlighting the serious nature of the condition.

Douvall has been described as the text book case. Outwardly attractive, she is a model; she is also an intelligent person. Sadly, her adult years have focused on how she sees herself and that is hideous.

Sleeping pills and anti depressants have become her norm. Hitherto so has the surgeons knife. Alicia says, “Every two weeks, I’ll go see another doctor. Often I’ll walk in, not even knowing what I want doing, and say something like ‘what do you think might be wrong?’ or ‘what do you think of my eyes?’ I keep hoping I might wake up one day feeling happy with myself.”

Furthermore, it is worthy of noting that Dovall found another method of treating her condition at the Passages Addiction Centre in Malibu, near Los Angeles, where she spent four weeks being treated and filmed for a reality TV show, called Rehab. ‘This sometimes compelling, if slightly tasteless series, which begins this week on the satellite channel Living, follows seven “fallen celebrities” who have agreed to undergo intensive courses of therapy in an attempt to find a potential cure for addictions that have ruined both their lives and careers.’

What ever one thinks about these sort of reality programmes ethically speaking, it is necessary to keep an open mind. The question of significance is attempting another approach to treatment. Various models will work for some, not others. It is the exploration of different avenues with regards to treatment that is relevant.

With reference to the Passages approach to treatment it differs from most clinics. Its founder Chris Prentiss has adopted a regime that rejects the concept that alcohol and drug addiction are incurable diseases. He argues that most addictions encountered are ultimately the failure of a person coming to terms with a traumatic past event, thus deep psychological are the route cause. He is the voice of experience as he weaned his son off both heroin and alcohol.

Intensive therapy sessions are key, the team will strive towards identifying the specific trauma that created the addiction and will then will go onto ensure that the patient looks ast it in a positive light.

A useful example to observe, “If someone has been abused as a child, or says ‘I was raped when I was six’, we help them reframe it, by showing them that it was actually a perfect event in their lives, because it made them who they are,” says Prentiss. “We show them, for example, that wisdom and strength and information didn’t come from their ho-hum days, it came from these power points.”

Cynicism is never far away. Hitherto, it has been suggested that Prentiss justifies his excessive fees by declaring an 85% pass rate, three times more than any of his more traditional rivals. Specifically he has been dubbed ‘a snake-oil salesman.’

In his defence Douvall states, “You couldn’t have got a bigger cynic than me,” she says. “I didn’t believe in counselling or rehab, or in a person being able to change.” But after intensive therapy sessions at Passages, many of them filmed, Douvall reveals the cause of her BDD: she was abused as a child and was also assaulted by an ex boyfriend, destroying her self confidence. She became a teenage mother – her daughter is now 13 – effectively cutting short her adolescence.”

Alicia also claims that during her treatment sessions she would be reduced to tears by the various acupuncturists, hypnotherapists and assorted counsellors.

Douvall stayed an additiional fortnight and claims her condition has improved as she has cancelled a planned “toe Lift”

Finally as the audience, it’s over to you now, to use your own judgement.

Share This Page:
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • E-mail this story to a friend!
  • TwitThis