'LOVELINE' HOST: HOW I HELP STARS BEAT DRUGS

Published on: September 5, 2003

"Loveline" radio host Dr. Drew Pinsky has helped countless celebrities and noncelebs alike beat substance abuse -- and he tells ENQUIRER readers how to recognize the warning signs of addiction.

"The problem is simple: People use drugs because drugs make us feel better," Dr. Pinsky -- author of the new book "Cracked: Putting Broken Lives Together Again" -- said in an exclusive ENQUIRER interview.

"If drugs like Ecstasy didn't work, people wouldn't use them. But most of us have no education about the consequence of going down that path. And people who are genetically prone to addiction don't know that they need to be careful.

"There are solutions that in the long term can help addicts.

"For a person who is well into their disease, the 12-step program is the best answer. That's because they need a structured, guided relationship with another person we call 'the sponsor.'

"For a younger person still in the experimental stage, forming quality relationships and spending time with people who care about them can make the difference between using drugs and not using them.

"The common denominator among the patients I treat for addiction is that they all had traumatic experiences in early life that caused them to feel powerless and in grave danger.

"We've found that if a child can develop a single positive attachment with another person at an early age -- even if that emotional relationship is outside the home -- he or she will mature emotionally and avoid the need for feel-good drugs."

The syndicated advice guru -- whose radio show recently marked its 20th year on the air -- is also the medical director for the Chemical Dependency Unit at Las Encinas Hospital in Pasadena, Calif., the acclaimed facility where Ozzy Osbourne's son Jack recently sought help.

For readers who wonder if they have an addictive friend, co-worker or family member, or even if they themselves might be addicted -- the answer is simple, said Dr. Pinsky.

"You can do the same simple experiment I suggest to my patients: 'If you can stop using, stop. That proves you aren't addicted. But if you can't stop or stay stopped, that's addiction.'

"You may delude yourself by thinking that you can stop when you want -- or that there are circumstances that make you use -- but the simple fact is, either you can stop or you cannot.

"End of story.

"In my experience, if you THINK there is a problem, often there IS a problem."