“Today Show” host Kathie Lee Gifford is being slammed by addiction experts and fans for implying that the parents of drug addicts are failures as moms and dads and are ultimately at fault for their children’s drug and substance-abuse problems.
Gifford, 58, made the inflammatory statement in the September 2012 issue of “Family Circle” magazine, where she snorted: “I’m not a perfect mom, but my kids haven’t been arrested, in rehab or kicked out of school, so I must be doing something right!”
Since then, Kathie Lee has come under fire from offended fans, who barraged her Facebook page with comments such as the following:
“Well Kathy, here is a pic of my little brother who we lost at the age of 33 yrs old due to a DISEASE called DRUG ADDICTION … I find it funny we were both raised by the same woman called MOM … I am NOT an ADDICT and NEVER was … Poor parenting?? Gimme a break.”
“Shame on you Kathie Lee Gifford, shame on you. You are a thoughtless human being.”
“I’m glad you never had to face any of your babies drowning in a disease they could not be cured from. I lost my baby at the age of 32 to a heroin overdose in Sept 2010. I am a doctor and worked hard my entire life to give her the best.”
The gaffe-prone Gifford has also been criticized by addiction experts, who note that drug abuse and alcoholism are not the result of poor parenting, but rather, are brain diseases unrelated to the alleged moral failings of moms and dads.
“It really is exasperating that uneducated celebrities feel the need to pontificate about addiction as if they are experts,” says Ben Levenson, CEO of Origins Recovery Centers.
“It is shocking that someone like Kathie Lee would seemingly kick suffering parents when they are desperately trying to save their children’s lives. Enough misinformation already! Addiction is a disease which affects over 30 million Americans, approximately the same number of Americans suffering from diabetes. If bad parenting were causal of addiction, as Kathie Lee suggests, this number may be even higher.”
This stance was echoed by Dr. Frank Lawlis, director of psychology and neurological plasticity programs at Origins.
“It’s widely regarded among medical professionals that addiction is a disease of the brain specifically relating to the Accumbens Nucleus (the pleasure center), and it stems from the inability to properly metabolize dopamine,” says Lawlis.
“This imbalance promotes depression and these individuals, addicts, seek external stimuli like drugs or alcohol to feel normal. The brain’s neuro pathways in an addict cease to work normally, so the only way an addict can achieve happiness is from external stimulation.”
Kathie Lee, who has a son Cody, 22, and daughter Cassidy, 19, has been curiously quiet since the fallout began, but might want to be more careful with her comments next time.
After all, her husband, former NFL star Frank Gifford, 81, famously cheated on her in 1997 with a 46-year-old flight attendant, who interestingly, was older and less attractive than Kathie. Using Kathie Lee’s reasoning, it would be logical to conclude that her husband cheated because she was a terrible wife who was bad in bed.