Q&A: Jill Martin on Addiction, Awareness, and Living a Healthy Life

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

Jill Martin Jill Martin is a fashion expert, New York Times best-selling author, and an Emmy Award-winning reporter. Co-author of The Weekend Makeover: Get a Brand New Life By Monday Morning, Jill is known for her “Ambush Makeover” and “Steals and Deals” segments on the TODAY show. She is also a dedicated supporter of Phoenix House and served as Vice Chair for the Phoenix House Summer Party in the Hamptons, Triumph for Teens.  Jill agreed to chat with us about addiction, media, and how to live a healthier life.

Phoenix House: What motivated you to support Phoenix House and how has addiction touched your life?

Jill Martin: I’ve had many people who have been involved with the cause and who have been honored. I think it’s an amazing project that has grown throughout the years and I look forward to being a bigger part of it during the year.

PH: You wrote in The Weekend Makeover about women who are “overwhelmed, overworked, overtired.” Recent studies suggest that women’s use of drugs—particularly anti-anxiety meds and tranquilizers—has gone up as their opportunities have increased.   How do you think women today can live more balanced lives without looking to substances for stress relief?

JM: I think that addiction comes in many forms. It’s not just about drug abuse or alcoholism. You can be addicted to a lot of things that lead you to be unhealthy and unproductive. The things in your life that you can control—like working out, eating healthy, looking good—will lead you in the right direction to getting healthier. If you feel better and you look better, I think your attitude in life toward everything changes. How you eat, how you work out, how you look—things that make you feel better—put you in a position to succeed.

PH: We know that the pleasure center of the brain is activated by lots of addictive behaviors—from drug use to overeating to compulsive shopping.  How do you recommend seeking pleasure in a safe and healthy way? 

JM: I’ve had friends who have had a variety of addictions. I think that the important part is being able to turn back as opposed to having to keep going down a bad road. When you make a bad decision it’s easy to make more. When you’re dealing with something as severe as most of the people at Phoenix House deal with, you have to start simple with making healthier choices that are manageable. Cutting out desserts, making yourself feel better by working out—those are small steps in the right directions.

PH: In your career as a reporter, you’ve interviewed a lot of celebrities—Kevin Bacon, Ron Howard, and Spike Lee just to name a few.  Do you think it’s valuable when stars like Robert Downey Jr. open about their recovery experiences?

JM: I think that any time somebody can look at someone in the public eye and relate to something they’ve gone through, it’s always helpful. I think that so many people are scared to talk about addiction because they feel like it’s not a popular thing to have. When somebody in the public eye talks about it, it makes it ok. When you’re dealing with addiction, being able to talk about it and get support is beyond key.

PH: How do you think the media can play a role in educating the public about addiction, treatment, and recovery?

JM: I think Phoenix House is a perfect example of having events where people who have suffered from addiction and traumatic events can speak. Having people like Cole* speak in front of media members and people who are able to donate gifts creates awareness. We’re at a beautiful house in the Hamptons and listening to what he went through. You would never know, speaking to him before he went out there, what he’s endured. Phoenix House is a perfect example of how to educate people and make them aware, so that we can continue to support organizations like Phoenix House and, step by step, help people who are suffering.

*Phoenix House client who shared his recovery story at Phoenix House Summer Party in the Hamptons

If you or a loved one needs help for a substance abuse issue, Phoenix House is here for you. Email us or call today at 1 888 671 9392.

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