Anne Heche Cocaine Use and Failing Mental Health
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Anne Heche was an American actress who found fame in both television and motion pictures. By her own admission, including the title of her memoir, Call Me Crazy, Ms. Heche suffered from mental illness. She also had a storied history of drug and alcohol abuse.
On August 5, 2022, Heche crashed her car into a home in a Los Angeles suburb. At the scene, her car burst into flames, igniting the house, which was badly damaged. She later was pronounced brain dead on August 11th, and life support was removed on August 15th.
The coroner ruled the crash as accidental, although the toxicology report showed that she had cocaine in her system. It isn’t known if she was suffering from mental illness at the time of her accident. However, Anne Heche’s cocaine use along with her failing mental health was likely both involved in her tragic end.
Anne Heche History of Mental Illness
Anne Heche opened up about her mental health struggles in 2001 when she was interviewed by Barbara Walters. She had just authored her memoir, which was a very transparent look at her troubled life. Heche described her family life as very dysfunctional and that her father abused her sexually during her childhood.
By her own admission, Heche suffered from mental illness. She described living in a fantasy world and having a dual identity, which she named Celestia. She declared that this alter-personality lived on a different planet and spoke to God. She stated that she believed she had schizophrenia. In reality, her illness was more aligned with dissociative identity disorder (DID), also called multiple personality disorder.
What Is DID?
DID is a mental disorder where the person develops alter egos. Each personality is distinct from the others and can control its behavior at different times. A person with DID can have many “alters” and each one is different from the other. DID is a rare illness that is often caused by sexual or physical abuse in childhood.
Symptoms of DID include:
- Substance abuse.
- Loss of memory.
- Suicidal thoughts or self-harm.
An interesting side note is that Anne Heche had visited a hair salon and purchased a red wig shortly before the crash that ended up taking her life.
Ms. Heche also struggled with substance abuse for many years. The drug that was in her system at the time of the accident was cocaine. Cocaine is a white powdery byproduct of the coca plant grown in South America. It is a stimulant that revs up the central nervous system.
The effects of cocaine are what attract people to this drug. It gives the user a sense of confidence, a burst of energy, and a feeling of euphoria. The high is short-lived, lasting about one hour. To extend the sensation, people will often do several rounds of cocaine in an evening.
Signs of Cocaine Abuse and Addiction
Cocaine is a highly addictive substance. With repeated use of this drug, tolerance begins to build up to its effects. This causes the user to increase their dosage and frequency as they chase the initial high.
Signs and symptoms of cocaine addiction include:
- Manic mood.
- Weight loss.
- Sores around the mouth.
- Going for long periods without sleep.
- Muscle tics
- Risk-taking behavior; impulsivity.
- Drug cravings.
- Obsessed with obtaining the drug and getting high.
- Financial problems.
- Withdrawal symptoms when the drug wears off.
Dual Diagnosis: Cocaine and Mental Illness
Anne Heche struggled with cocaine use and failing mental health. This is called dual diagnosis, or the presence of more than one mental health challenge. Most times, the mental health issue will emerge first and the substance abuse follows. This is because the substance is used as a way to numb the mental health struggles.
When someone has a dual diagnosis, they will require a specialized treatment program. These programs are staffed with both addiction experts and psychiatrists, who then provide treatment for both disorders.
Seeing the Signs of Mental Illness
Although it is still not known if Ms. Heche was exhibiting overt signs of a mental health crisis on the day she crashed the car, she has in the past. She described in her own words her symptoms. In fact, in 2000 she was found in Fresno knocking on a stranger’s door. It was reported that she claimed to have spoken to God who told her they would be going to a different planet.
Different mental illnesses have different warning signs. Here are some other types of red flags that someone is in the midst of a mental health crisis:
- Paranoid thoughts.
- Personality changes.
- Inappropriate behavior.
- Irrational thoughts.
- Delusional thoughts.
- Disorganized thinking.
- Extreme fatigue.
- Mental confusion.
- Angry outbursts; violent acts.
- Strange speech or writings.
- Decline in work performance.
- Odd movements.
- Withdraw socially.
- Loss of interest in hygiene.
Psychiatric Help When Facing a Mental Health Crisis
When facing a mental health crisis, it is critical that you or the loved one get the help they need in a timely manner. The highest level of crisis care, for acute stabilization, is the mental health ward in a hospital setting. The next highest level of care is a residential mental health program. Someone in crisis may start off at the hospital and then transfer to a residential program.
The basic treatment elements will include:
- Medication. A broad range of psych meds offers help for managing symptoms of a mental health disorder. The drugs are prescribed in along with psychotherapy and other treatment measures.
- Psychotherapy. Therapy is central to mental health treatment, no matter which type of mental illness is present. Therapy involves both one-on-one and group sessions. Patients are guided to examine and discuss the issues that may be factors. Through therapy, they receive guidance to help them change the way they react to stressors. If trauma is a factor, they will receive therapy tailored to treating PTSD.
The Treatment Specialist a Trusted Online Resource for Mental Health and Addiction Guidance
The Treatment Specialist is an online resource for informative articles on mental health conditions and treatment options for adults, teens, and families. If you or someone you know is struggling with a cocaine problem, please reach out today at (866) 644-7911.
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