Money doesn’t mean you can keep your children safe and sober. Just ask Michael Douglas, whose son Cameron Douglas, age 34, is back in court appealing an addition to his 5-year jail sentence. The actor’s son was sentenced in January 2010 when he pled guilty to narcotics distribution charges. Now a judge wants to add almost 5 more years to the sentence because he obtained drugs while in jail, and he lied to the court about how he got them.
The younger Douglas’s problems started way back when he was 13. Was he enabled by rich parents too busy to care for him? That’s the claim of Paul Schechtman, Cameron’s lawyer, in a brief filed during the appeal of this extra sentence.
An enabler is someone whose actions make it possible for a person to get away with some negative action, such as substance abuse. Do you ever wonder, are you an enabler? Consider these statements:
- You overlook the person’s negative behavior, but just to keep peace in the house.
- You tell yourself that the problem is not really that bad.
- You have the patience of a saint, telling yourself that sooner or later things will change.
- If you’re guilty of anything, it’s of covering up for the person who’s using.
- Things would be better if that person would just do everything you say!
Who knows if Michael Douglas and his then-wife, Diandra Douglas, were guilty of enabling? It’s hard to know the truth of any family’s inner dynamics, especially when the people involved wield both money and power. But Manhattan Judge Richard M. Berman has cited Michael Douglas’s repeated staged interventions as an indication that the father had indeed taken notice of Cameron’s flagrant and increasing use of drugs. When those attempts failed, Douglas cut Cameron off from access to family funds.
Nevertheless, Cameron has undergone two decades of drug treatment. His longest period of sobriety occurred during his incarceration.
As a teenager, Cameron drank and snorted cocaine. He claimed his drug use prevented panic attacks and depression. By the time he was 20, he was injecting cocaine, and a few years later he turned to heroin. By the time he was arrested in 2009, he was mainlining up to six times daily.
At that point he was put on house arrest and placed at his mother’s home, but soon after he talked a girlfriend into bringing him heroin. He was caught and jailed. Instead of the 10-year sentence that the charges carried, he texted his suppliers and led law enforcement officials to two of them. Their arrest cut his sentence in half.
But even before the ink was dry on his court papers, he had sweet-talked a lawyer into smuggling Xanax pills into prison. Then he was caught again, this time with Suboxone and heroin, which he claimed he found on the floor of a chapel during a church service. Did you ever hear a better story told by any druggie? Unfortunately an unnamed “cooperator” told officials that he actually brought the stuff to Douglas in his cell. And now Douglas is trying to squirm out of his additional 4.5-year sentence.
Michael Douglas, in the meantime, seems happy to know that his son is safe in a jail cell. It’s true that Cameron has suffered a broken femur sustained during a handball game—maybe courtesy of a drug lord who reached into jail to punish him for snitching. But he’s safer in jail than he would be on the street, dealing with the worst kinds of people and putting poison into his veins.
Douglas has stated for the record that his son’s prison sentence is a blessing in disguise. It’s hard to reach that level of peace and self-assurance of your actions when you have to help a loved one seek drug treatment. But if you wonder, are you an enabler, test yourself and get your loved one some help. You just might save his or her life.