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Opioid Awareness

Sharon Osbourne Opens Up About Her Family’s Struggle With Opioid Use

Photos: Courtesy of James Breneman

The Osbournes are no strangers to the spotlight. In recent years, beloved TV personality and matriarch of the clan, Sharon Osbourne, has taken on a new kind of role as an advocate for those living with substance-use disorder and their caregivers.   

Though she’s never been known to pull punches, Osbourne’s radical honesty about the challenges her family has faced with opioids has offered Americans a glimpse into the indiscriminating nature of addiction. “For me there is no stigma,” Osbourne told Mediaplanet. “This affects millions of people, not just in this country, but all over the world.” 

Osbourne’s husband, Black Sabbath frontman Ozzy, and her children, Jack and Kelly, have all gone public about their struggle with opioids — “all prescribed by a doctor and all for pain or anxiety,” Sharon says. But for Osbourne, the pain was enormous, and it was suffered privately. “I’ve seen what each of them have gone through with their addiction and also with their individual different roads for recovery,” she shared. “It’s heartbreaking to see.”

Last year, Osbourne, who is currently a co-host on the daytime television show “The Talk,” lent her story to “Let’s Change the Conversation.” The public-health campaign hopes to lessen stigma through storytelling and encourages caregivers to educate themselves about treatment options available for substance-use disorder. For some, programs like AA can be effective, and they might not need to enter a treatment center. But those with SUD shouldn’t feel like a failure if this method of recovery doesn’t stick, Osbourne said. She advocates for more holistic, medication-assisted treatment, explaining: “The greater majority of people need to do it through a clinic where they are monitored and also at the same time going through therapy.”

Signature bluntness

The Osbournes have also been candid about their negative experience with doctors who irresponsibly prescribed medication that led to issues with addiction. Theirs is a cautionary tale on the importance of carefully researching the facilities and medical providers where you or your loved one intend to seek treatment. When asked what solutions she’d like to see to combat the opioid epidemic, Osbourne responded with her signature bluntness: “The doctors and pharmaceutical companies that are pushing it down patients’ necks must stop overprescribing.” She added, “There are other alternative drugs that can be used that aren’t opioid-based for pain. It’s down to the pharmaceutical companies to stop aggressively pushing these drugs on doctors and pharmacists.”

For the many fellow caregivers around the country and the world, Osbourne shares a message of tough love: “Once [your loved one] becomes educated about their problem and how to deal with it and how to stay clean and sober, it’s really up to them whether they seriously want to stay clean and sober.” Though you can stay educated on the most effective and cutting-edge treatments, provide support, compassion, empathy and endless love, “You cannot force them.”

Emily Gawlak, [email protected]

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