It’s Never Too Late to Get Clean

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

The media are all over John Galliano’s behavior, especially his alcohol-induced rants, wondering whether he’ll ever be able to recover his career as a talented and gifted designer.  The fashion world is being understandably hard on Galliano, but their focus is primarily on his career.  I think we should focus more on his treatment and efforts to recover from his addictions—let’s not prioritize Galliano’s career success over his health and personal recovery.

The fashion industry’s attitude towards substance abuse has improved over the past few decades.  In the fashion world of the ‘70s and ‘80s, using drugs, especially cocaine, wasn’t just tolerated—it was expected.  Drug abuse was the norm then, and although still prominent, it’s not the norm now.   Nevertheless, folks who are extremely talented, productive and creative are often allowed to engage in hazardous and risky behavior without consequences—as long as they continue to produce great work.  That’s why I was so sad when I read about Galliano’s “unfabulous fall” in a recent Women’s Wear Daily article.

Of course, as Galliano and others before him have shown, erratic behavior can go too far. I have first-hand experience with an “unfabulous fall” from substance abuse; when I was in my late teens and trying to break into modeling, my cocaine habit became my biggest enemy. I missed appointments, showed up late for fittings, and never got enough sleep, sending photographers and make-up artists into tirades about the circles under my eyes.  It didn’t take long for addiction to affect my career.  Fortunately, I was able to get help by the time I was 25.  I’ll be 50 years old next week and I’ve spent 24 of those years in recovery.

John Galliano’s hard-partying lifestyle didn’t catch up with him until he was 50 years old.  I’m glad I got sober early on – I think it would be more difficult to change my lifestyle now, at age 50.  So I give Galliano credit for seeking help, and realizing that it’s never too late to start to get well.  We can get sober and go on to accomplish wonderful things—at any age.

Deni Carise, PhD
Chief Clinical Officer
Phoenix House

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  • Everyone can be successful, all you have to want to do is change and surround yourself with supportive people.

    I let the men and women I counsel know that they all deserve to be successful no matter what has happened.

    Like the Phoenix House logo with the colorful phoenix and the saying….out of the ashes of addiction….comes YOU!

    Catherine Borden
    Substance Abuse Counselor
    Phoenix House
    Burlington Vermont

  • Naveed Etemadipour

    It’s shocking to see such an inspiring figure fall from grace to to the drink. This just reminds me that no matter how powerful or legendary Galliano may be, he is still human and we deal with a human condition day in and day out in hopes of recovery. Thanks for your story Deni i most certainly can relate, and i agree its never too late to get sober!

    As for Galliano, lets keep him in our prayers. Just as his fashion career has inspired millions his recovery may inspire millions more!

    Naveed Etemadipour
    Substance Abuse Counselor
    Phoenix House, CA