Why Ben Affleck’s Alcoholism Confession Matters

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Last week, actor, director, screenwriter, and two-time Oscar winner, Ben Affleck revealed to the world he has completed treatment for alcohol addiction in a post to fans on Facebook.

I have completed treatment for alcohol addiction; something I've dealt with in the past and will continue to confront. …

Posted by Ben Affleck on Tuesday, March 14, 2017

In the statement, Affleck says: “I have completed treatment for alcohol addiction; something I’ve dealt with in the past and will continue to confront. I want to live life to the fullest and be the best father I can be.”

The reaction to the confession has been largely positive, but I’ve also noticed a number of people wondering why the news really matters. “Why should I care about the problems of a wealthy famous person,” they ask.

It is easy to be dismissive when a successful person reveals their struggles in the public, but their bravery should be rewarded. As Dr. Howard Samuels of The Hills Treatment Center in Los Angeles explained to PEOPLE, “I’ve got to take my hat off to Ben, because he’s being a leader by being able to come forward and be honest about his struggles, because it’s such a crisis.”

Alcoholism and substance abuse are a massive mental health issue in America and around the world, and many people never seek help for fear of being stigmatized or ostracized by their peers or family.

“I think it’s so important that people that are high-profile really use the platform that they’ve been able to achieve to help other people,” continues Samuels, who is a recovering heroin addict with 32 years of sobriety. “Because that, to me, is what this is all about. It’s about helping the people that are still amid their alcoholism to come out of the closet.”

Samuels is correct. Whether it is Ben Affleck’s admission of alcoholism or Demi Lovato’s activism for substance abuse and eating disorder awareness, it can still be very difficult for those in the public eye to come forward and publicly talk about their struggles with personal issues. But, it is important that they do.

Samuels and others who have been affected by substance abuse in their lives are applauding Affleck’s message, and hopefully it will encourage others in the public eye to continue speaking out. “Addiction and alcoholism is such a crisis in this country that we need people like Ben to come forward and be leaders so other people in the country aren’t ashamed to get help,” concludes Samuels.

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