Hollywood Hills party? Check.
VIP guest list? Check.
For the young, rich and famous, this is a pretty typical Hollywood weekend, insiders say.
And they tell Pop Tarts that Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan, who have fessed up in recent weeks to possessing and using cocaine, respectively, aren’t the only ones partying hard. While the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institute of Health do not track drug use by occupation (like model, actress or musician), many closely connected to the entertainment arena tell Pop Tarts recreational drug use is on a dangerous rise.
“The drug problem is growing, but what is certainly true is that the media no longer shields celebrities by not publicizing their problems with drugs and alcohol," said Dr. David Sack, CEO of Promises Rehab Facility in Malibu, Calif. "Similarly, the criminal justice system no longer is 'star struck' and prosecutors are no longer reluctant to pursue a celebrity whose drug related behaviors threaten public safety.”
So how do celebrities get their fix? Can just about anyone get a “hook up” if they want?
“All it takes is one phone call,” a prominent L.A party boy said. “The celebrities are rarely the designated drivers, and they like to have fun inside the clubs. So you know there's definitely some 'partying' going on.”
Anyone from club promoters, to drivers, to doormen, to VIP concierges can be “appropriately connected” with the “right people," said another source, and L.A. has no shortage of suppliers. Insiders says some club owners even “pay” celebs with coke to entice them into their venue.
Furthermore, another source said, many young drug-using stars are hardly shy about their habits.
“(Users) usually start off at a club and continue it at a house party – mostly coke and weed,” said the L.A nightlife event planner. “A lot of the time you’ll see people doing it in the bathroom or celebrities even doing it out in the open. Most people in Hollywood don’t find the need to be discreet about it.”
According to our sources, most of the time, celebrities have their “friends” and assistants make the necessary arrangements get their illegal substances, and are careful about not to seek drugs directly. Sometimes the celeb will pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars a week, but Hollywood insiders said often they’ll score a freebie or at least a good discount from a seller who, in exchange, wants to hang out in the “in” crowd.
“Apparently Lindsay told her friends to ‘come over with the drugs or don’t come at all,’ and anyone who didn’t obey the orders she shut out, she only wanted to be friends with people that will facilitate the habit,” said Robin Sax, a former Los Angeles County deputy district attorney who now serves as a leading legal analyst, author and adjunct professor of women and crime at Cal State Los Angeles. “It really isn’t that much different to Michael Jackson or Anna Nicole Smith – it is like going through enough doctors until you find one that will prescribe you whatever you want. Lindsay was known to do that with her friends.”
Another source close to the “Mean Girls” star said that Lohan blocked anybody from her friendship circle who refused to get her what she wanted.
Reps for Lohan did not respond for repeated requests for comment.
Candace Bruce, CEO of Addiction & Dual Diagnosis Facility, Morningside Recovery, believes those in the limelight are more susceptible to substance abuse problems.
“Celebrities and high profile people are more prone to anxiety and stress, and given the ubiquity of alcohol and other drugs in our culture, they are wildly prone to addiction. Alcohol and other drugs ease people’s fears related to their social environment (‘Will I fit in?’), body image (‘Do I look fat?’), competency and effectiveness (‘Am I good enough?’), and comparative success (‘What’s enough?’),” Bruce explained. “Given that these are huge concerns on the red carpet and the roads that lead there, people find themselves relying more and more on mood altering substances to take away their anxiety."
But this isn’t exclusively a celebrity problem. Perhaps more disturbing is that, in some cases, parents may actually be the ones behind the problem.
“The drug scene in Hollywood is huge, but I’m hearing more and more about these big Malibu parties where the rich parents are the first dealers and are saying they want to teach their kids to ‘responsibly do drugs’ because they figure they’ll probably do them anywhere,” Sax said. “California is known to be particularly compassionate when it comes to cracking down on drug offenses. Perhaps if we used harsher sentences the first time around, and the likes of Paris and Lindsay couldn’t work the court system so much, drugs wouldn’t be such a big problem.”
The Los Angeles Police Department told Tarts that they are taking great measures to deal with the local drug scene, but said they do not specifically target celebrities as suspects for illegal activity.
“There is definitely a Hollywood drug scene and we definitely police it. We diligently investigate nightlife, street life, and the influx of drugs in the Hollywood scene. We do not target celebrities but we do operate out of affluent clubs,” a rep for the Hollywood Narcotics division of the LAPD said. “We don't turn a blind eye on anyone or any of it, and we arrest whoever is in violation of selling or using drugs.”
A representative from the Drug Enforcement Administration in Los Angeles told Pop Tarts that often small, celebrity-based drug busts can lead to progress in combating the drug epidemic on a larger scale.
“If the LAPD has a case involving a well known individual, that may tie into a larger case where maybe it's a pharmacy or an organization we know and we'll get involved on that side, and work our way up, looking at the bigger picture,” said the rep. “We're looking to get the biggest bang for our efforts.”
And if there's one thing Hollywood knows how to do, it is make a big bang.
-- Deidre Behar contributed to this report