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As humans, we all face struggles from time to time. While these struggles can be of different natures, some of them lead us toward substance addictions, mental health issues, or even both at the same time. Things are no different when it comes to famous people, including musicians, as substance abuse continues to affect everyone, regardless of gender, race, or socioeconomic background.
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It can be a bit hard to imagine a famous person who is admired worldwide suffering from an addiction or mental illness. That said, the world has witnessed many famous pop stars battle these issues due to the high-stress lifestyles and pressures of stardom. One such musician who has spent her entire life is Britney Spears.
Britney Spears on Drugs: An Overview of How it Began
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Britney Spears, a literal music icon, has lived one of the most tragic lives in the entertainment industry’s history. She has been through a lot, but things were not always like this. In fact, Britney had been one of the most successful and popular singers in the history of music. Ironically, she was also one of the most controversial musicians, with the media covering her struggles and controversies time and again.
Britney has been in the limelight since a very young age. At the young age of 11 years, she secured a role in The All-New Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, following which she began her career as a performer and pop singer. In addition to being a hobby, her career became a passion for her. However, as the world watched her rise, Britney also started using alcohol at only 13 years of age. Despite being caught by her mother, she continued drinking after seeking approval.
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In 1998, Britney released “Baby One More Time,” which topped Billboard Music and won her many awards. The singer was 15 at the moment and had reportedly already started experimenting with drugs while recording the song. By age 16, Britney frequently partied in bars and nightclubs, often with her brother Bryan who was only five years older than her.
Britney continued with her meteoric rise and substance use, giving one hit after another. Unfortunately, soon after she gained her residential spot in the limelight, Britney started experiencing professional and personal setbacks. One of these setbacks included her struggles with mental health, but that did not stop her from continuing her residency in Las Vegas, which remained intact until 2017. In 2019, the singer finally realized her struggles and canceled her upcoming Las Vegas residency and a tour to take an indefinite leave. Soon after, she entered a wellness facility to regain control of her life.
Britney Spears Addiction and Mental Health: The Details
The mental health struggles for Britney Spears officially started in 2007 when she attempted to shave her head as a part of her breakdown. According to her, she did it to signal others to stay away from her life and give her some space. This mental breakdown was reportedly due to the immense pressure she had been under while growing up to maintain her public image. Since there was no proper social media development back in the day, Britney photographed her action and shared her images with tabloids for the world to see.
Years later, Sam Lutfi, the former manager of Britney Spears, appeared in court and testified that Britney was under the influence of amphetamine addiction. He claimed that she had a prescription for this medication and often misused them. The head-shaving attempt, according to Lutfi, was to avoid a drug test. Lutfi also revealed that he had drug-sniffing dogs tour Britney Spears’ house and claimed them to find a substance that closely resembled crystal meth.
Following the head shave, Britney’s behavior quickly spiraled out of control as the media continued to share her images where she was using an umbrella to strike an SUV. She underwent several psychiatric evaluations and refused to return her children to their father after paying them a court-appointed visit. As a result, she ended up losing their custody.
Britney Spears Drug Addiction: The Beginning of a Conservatory Relationship
In 2008, Britney Spears got into a conservatory relationship with her lawyer and father. As a conservator, her father received the authority to manage her affairs as she was deemed unfit to care for herself properly. Conservatorship refers to a legal appointment made by a judge to help the conservatee with their financial affairs and everyday life due to their physical or mental limitations.
As a result of this conservatory relationship, Britney was put under an involuntary psychiatric hold as her father stepped up to take charge of her matters. He used to keep detailed records of all her finances and associated decisions she made for court documentation. Britney’s father soon gained complete control over her business deals with her lawyer and even started monitoring her tiny purchases, such as a cup of coffee. The relationship continued until 2019, when her lawyer finally resigned from his role, leaving her father behind to gain complete control with a newly appointed lawyer. Following this in April 2019, Britney also checked herself into a mental rehab to cope with her father’s declining health.
Britney Spears on Drugs: The Forced Lithium Intake
While not many people know about the drugs Britney Spears was taking before, her experience of being put on lithium has been disclosed recently. Lithium is a mood stabilizer typically used to manage the symptoms of bipolar disorder. It is a very heavy drug that can quickly impact energy, mood, and interest in engaging with other people. Taking too much of this drug can even mentally impair a person, especially if they keep taking it for more than five months, and this is exactly what happened with Spears.
Spears also mentioned how after being put on this drug against her will, she felt “drunk: and was even unable to effectively communicate with her parents. She gave a statement in court about how six nurses at her home monitored her behavior all the time, not allowing her to leave the premises.
There are not enough details about the dose of lithium Britney was taking and what for her condition. This is particularly important since lithium is infamous for having a very narrow therapeutic window, indicating a low difference between its recommended and toxic doses. Moreover, the drug can also cause different reactions in different people where some may respond to the treatment well, while others may struggle with side effects like blurry vision.
Lithium is commonly prescribed to manage conditions such as mania and is considered a strong prescription medication. In addition to the risk of causing dangerous side effects, it can also interact with a long list of medications and even some natural foods. Lithium toxicity is also a fairly common complication that can easily affect anyone who is not precautious enough, leading to deadly circumstances.
Perhaps the most worrisome aspect of this scenario is the lack of consent during this alleged treatment given to Spears. Had she not been under a conservatorship, it would be mandatory for experts to get her through an informed consent process before prescribing lithium to her. As a part of this process, a doctor’s job is to describe why they are prescribing a certain medication; all expected benefits and side effects, and the possible alternative treatments if any. Conservatees like Spears, however, do not hold a right to consent or even refuse treatment unless indicated otherwise by a judge.
While lithium can potentially be a lifesaving drug for many people who need it for treatment, Spears blames it as an excuse that her father used to gain further control of her career and life while undermining her independence.
What did Britney spears substance abuse include?
As reported, Britney Spears has been experimenting with different substances throughout her life, such as alcohol, cocaine, and amphetamines like Adderall.
Does Britney Spears have bipolar disorder?
Even though the world has seen two completely different personalities of Britney Spears, the famous singer never got an official evaluation or diagnosis of bipolar disorder. During her conservatory relationship, a psychiatrist did suspect her to be suffering from this disorder and put her under a heavy dose of lithium. However, the singer claims that the medication did more damage to her than made her feel any better.
Did a forced conservatorship worsen Britney Spears mental health issues and addictions?
Forced psychiatric care such as the one Spears had to endure can intensely affect a person’s life. While the whole purpose of a conservatorship is to save a person with severe mental illness who cannot make sound decisions on their own, it apparently did the opposite in the singer’s case. Sometimes, forcing a person to get treatment, no matter how beneficial it is for them, can lead to less success as such people are unwilling to put in any conscious effort in the process. Many people believe that Britney Spears could have gotten much better treatment on her own without the conservatorship.
How can I stop becoming a conservatee if I have similar issues as Britney Spears?
Being in a conservatory relationship can be extremely difficult and even dangerous for your mental health. While the rules regarding a conservatory relationship vary from state to state, it is almost impossible to revoke such a relationship once you have entered it. Hence, it is best to avoid getting into one by seeking treatment for your mental health or underlying addiction through a professional rehab before things worsen. Plenty of rehabs are actively working to provide support and treatment to people needing psychiatric care without judgment or bias.