A few years ago I was talking to a friend about my views on addiction, and won him over to my side. Eventually, he told me about an experience he once had reading a book by the popular talk show host Wendy Williams. In the book, she talks about how she was abusing cocaine, and decided to quit. Apparently, she found a man she was in love with, decided to get married and have a family, and subsequently decided to stop using cocaine, as she told Essence magazine:
Meeting my husband Kevin in 1995 was a turning point. I wanted to get married and have children, and I knew he wasn’t going to put up with my mess. I have a lot of nerve for saying this, but I didn’t want to introduce him to my problem. My recovery was a gradual process until I completely stopped. Drugs are the devil, and I’ll never go back to that lifestyle.
My friend recalls that at the time when he was reading this he thought that Wendy was being very irresponsible, because in his opinion, she downplayed addiction and made it seem easy to stop, she didn’t mention treatment or 12 step meetings, she just proclaimed that she decided to stop so she could have a life with her new man.
This is how addictions often end. The addict moves on to a new, more responsible role in their life and they simply leave the drugs in the past without a struggle. It’s called “maturing out”. The literature on self-change is filled with examples of it, and as Gene Heyman points out, there’s even an average age when it happens, at about 32 years old. It appears Williams stopped when she was at about that age.
I haven’t been able to find out if Wendy Williams attended any sort of treatment or 12-step programs, but it’s clear what saved her – her attitude. She is an empowered woman. She decided to grow up and change – and then she proceeded to do that. You can see the attitude displayed in the clip below where she addresses Whitney Houston’s addiction. Wendy speaks of ownership, and owning your “habits”. You’ll notice she also refers to herself as an ex-addict, or ex-offender, but she looks at her notes and then says something about always being an addict, here it seems like she was expressing her real view first, and then making a concession to political correctness on the issue. It’s obvious that she realizes she was behaving in a way that was wrong for her life, she owned it, decided to change it, and moved on – she doesn’t view herself as a victim, or as a lifelong addict.
Ms Williams could be a strong example for so many people struggling with addiction. I hope she talks more about it, and shows us what self-change is all about!