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Could Anything Have Saved Peaches Geldof?

Updated on July 29, 2014

Peaches Geldof

Heroin

Heroin. It's not a surprise really to anyone who regularly works with addicts, as I do, to learn that Peaches Geldof's death is being blamed on the drug.

Following an investigation into Ms. Geldof's death, toxicology reports revealed that a heroin overdose had ended her life.

Public Backlash

It's not something one wants to think about, a young mother having succumbed to drugs again after apparently getting clean. But relapse is a pitfall for most addicts -- and unfortunately in the case of heroin, taking the drug after being clean for some time is more likely to kill an addict, as their tolerance for the drug has reduced.

From reading comments posted by the public, some have very little sympathy for Peaches. The sad thing is that I know that whatever I say will not change some people's minds. Because most people are fortunate enough not to have to understand how addiction works, how powerful it is, and how some people have a genetic predisposition towards it.

Addiction: A Family Affair

Addictions run in families -- not just because (as some might believe) of the lifestyle, but because the predisposition is in the very genes. Some people point out that it is the addict's fault for ever trying drugs at all. But the people who are most prone to trying drugs in the first place are the very people who are most likely to become addicted. It's a Catch 22.

If you look at the science, it shows that people who have addictive tendencies may well have started out with lower levels of the brain chemicals that naturally make people feel content, at ease and happy, than the rest of the population -- before they ever picked up an addiction.

Is it any surprise that if you're going through life feeling significantly sadder, more anxious, more awkward and more pent-up than everyone else seems to, you'd be looking for some kind of serious relief?

The Tragedy of Paula Yates

Not all predisposed people end up with a serious addiction problem, but those who do are usually people who have experienced trauma, tragedy or mental health issues. Peaches had to deal with the death of her mother, Paula Yates, when she was only an 11-year-old child. Her mother died of a heroin overdose. Do you see the picture forming?

Relapsing onto drugs following clean time isn't a given. Long-term recovery can be achieved, but it takes a lot of work to complete the healing, and former addicts have to spend the rest of their lives watching their stress levels. And they must come to terms with whatever trauma or tragedy blighted their lives in the first place.

Paula and Peaches

The Picture That Told a Thousand Words

For me, the most telling thing was that Peaches posted a picture of herself as a child in her mother's arms on social media just before she died. Ms. Geldof had admitted to struggling to deal with her mother's death, and thought she had made progress. For me, it is clear that she never completed the healing process.

With the best will in the world, Peaches tried her hardest to overcome the shadows of her past. She wanted to make her own name for herself and embarked very early on forging a career. But we can run and run, and still there we are -- until we deal with the demons that we are trying to outrun.

Lessons to Be Learned

I have no doubt that Peaches still felt the sadness of her mother's death, the sense of loss, the past still seen through the eyes, and felt with the heart, of a child. I see it every day in my own work. Until an addict can work through and heal that pain of early trauma, nothing can save them.

If anything, I hope that lessons are learned by this tragic case of history repeating itself. I hope Peaches' children seek out the very best support early on to work through their own tragic loss -- so that we won't be reading the same sad story again when they are grown up, possibly with children of their own.

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