Melinda thought her career as an actor had already peaked, and she spent her early forties looking for any work she could get. She’d always prided herself on clean living as the reason she’d aged with grace (her idea of partying was little more than a bottle of wine with dinner or a few prescribed anxiety pills before bed), and it was that grace that helped revitalize her career.
When she was beginning to wonder if it was time to leave Los Angeles, Melinda finally found a small part in a low-budget movie working with an up-and-coming director. When the film ended up gaining mainstream attention, casting directors started calling her, and after showing her spark on the big screen, her agent was getting more offers than she could accept. Her older films even began to develop a cult following, and before long, her name started appearing in the tabloids again.
In her late forties, Melinda landed the biggest role of her career—the opportunity to cement her status as a household name. Her regained celebrity status had also brought out a group of female and male admirers, many fellow actors who wanted to learn the secret to her newfound success, but also an old friend she hadn’t heard from in many years. When her old friend invited her to a party, Melinda assumed it was to celebrate her upcoming role and catch up for old time’s sake.
Little did she know, her old “friend” was jealous of her revitalized success and wanted to drag her down the same path of addiction he’d gone down. After the party, he handed her a joint laced with heroin. By the time Melinda realized something wasn’t right, she felt a sense of euphoria that was more intense and soothing than any of her anxiety medication had ever felt. It wasn’t until she awoke on her couch the following morning that she realized what must have happened. She’d experienced a high that felt better than her revitalized career, and she spent months leading up to her big project chasing that newfound feeling.
Melinda missed her first day on set, and when she didn’t pick up her agent’s calls, he showed up at her apartment. When she didn’t answer the door, he called the police to perform a welfare check since he hadn’t heard from her in more than a week. She’d told him she was going to get clean before shooting started, and he’d trusted her, but when they opened the door, Melinda had overdosed on the couch and was barely breathing.
Fortunately, one of the officers happened to have Narcan in her patrol car, and within a few minutes, Melinda’s breathing and heart rate had returned to normal. The paramedics were called, and Melinda had to spend the night in the hospital because doctors were concerned about her history of irregular heartbeat. When she woke up in the middle of the night to use the restroom, she looked in the mirror and noticed how much the past four months had weathered her face. She was no longer aging with grace, she realized.
Her agent explained the situation to the film’s producers and director, and while they were glad the root of Melinda’s problems had come to light, they couldn’t delay shooting any longer than a week. After she’d returned home from the hospital, her agent visited her and explained the situation. Fortunately, Melinda had already come to terms with the reality that she needed help. She looked at her face in the magazines and then at her face in the mirror and saw two different people—the one she wanted to be and the one she didn’t.
Melinda knew she needed help, but she didn’t want it to tarnish all the work she’d put in until now. At the same time, her agent and director wanted to ensure rumors or gossip didn’t hurt Melinda’s recovery or the success of her upcoming project. They knew conventional addiction recovery wasn’t an option. Melinda’s situation was unique, and she needed a more personalized, private approach. That’s when her agent began researching alternatives to rehab, and that’s when he discovered the at-home addiction treatment model.
In her first week of treatment, Melinda relied on her Certified Recovery Agent (CRA) to help her navigate detox, cope with withdrawals, and even begin preparing for her role. Together, they stayed on top of her initial psychiatry appointments, and Melinda gained insight into why she’d continued to seek out that high after she’d first been introduced to it. Every time she saw herself in the media or thought about her upcoming project, she felt fear that she’d lose it all again, and that fear triggered her addiction. As she worked with her psychiatrist and CRA, she began to realize that she was allowing that fear to overshadow what she still had to gain with the role of a lifetime.
In the first week of shooting, the director and producers went from wondering if they’d cast the wrong person to realizing that Melinda had been made for the role. In the mornings, she’d arrive on set before anyone else with her CRA by her side as her personal assistant. In the afternoons, she returned home and worked through the day’s anxiety with her psychiatrist as she learned and practiced new coping strategies.
Her agent was afraid that Melinda’s issues might come to light in the press, triggering a relapse, but to his amazement, her addiction and treatment never came to light. All members of Melinda’s treatment prioritized her confidentiality to the highest degree, and when the project wrapped up, she and her agent reflected that it felt like they had accomplished the impossible.
Leading up to the film’s release date, Melinda felt like she’d taken a step back in her recovery. In anticipation of the release, any mention of the project, her co-stars, or herself was enough to trigger her urge to use again. During that time, she worked with her psychiatrist and CRA to come to the realization that it wasn’t a step back; her anxiety was heightened due to her uncertainty about the outcome of the project because she no longer found an outlet in acting. Together, they worked to find a healthy outlet for anxiety—helping develop the careers of the young, aspiring actors around her.
When the film was released, it was hailed by critics as Melinda’s best performance yet. As the awards rolled in, her anxieties diminished, but she realized she’d found more fulfillment in helping the actors around her than in her own career’s success, and that path helped her sustain long-term recovery. The only people who ever learned about her addiction were her agent, the director, and those she chose to share it with.