What’s Wrong With Justin Bieber?

A lawyer, a drug counselor, an addiction expert and a former child star weigh in on what's behind Bieber's recent behavior.
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(Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

(Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Justin Gone Wild

Being Bieber

beingbieber235 Whats Wrong With Justin Bieber?

By Shannon Carlin

After a tumultuous 2013 in which Justin Bieber made headlines for fighting with his neighborsgoing nuts at a NYC nightclub, peeing on Bill Clinton (well, sort of) and losing custody of his pet monkey, the pop star swore this year would be different. But only 23 days into 2014 and it seems like it’s more of the same.

Earlier today (Jan. 23), Bieber was arrested in Florida for drag-racing and driving under the influence with the official report stating that the officer smelled an “odor of alcohol emanating from the drivers breath and bloodshot eyes.” Bieber—who was charged with resisting arrest without violence, a DUI and driving with an expired drivers license—was later released on a $2,500 bail, stopping on his way out to wave at photographers and blow kisses to his fans.

Related: Read Justin Bieber’s Police Report

“This is the best thing that could have happened to him,” said former child star Danny Bonaduce on his radio morning show on Seattle’s KZOK-FM (a station) hours after news of Bieber’s arrest went public. “Speaking from personal experience, this could save his life.”

In an interview with hours later, Bonaduce spoke further on his claims that jail could be a saving grace for the pop star. “I used to be something like Justin Bieber,” Bonaduce said. “I didn’t have the cash, but you know, every time something I would think was bad happened, somebody would say, ‘Best thing that ever happened to Bonaduce.’ I think there’s absolutely a real chance that the cops saved his life today.”

Bonaduce, who became famous for his role on The Partridge Family in the early ’70s, is no stranger to the law himself, having been arrested numerous times on drug charges including a 1990 arrest for trying to buy cocaine in Daytona Beach. It should be noted, Bonaduce was there to speak at an anti-drug campaign aimed at keeping kids off drugs. Looking at Bieber’s recent troubles, Bonaduce can’t help but see similarities between the pop star and his younger self.

“Being young, stupid and in jail. That’s the exact signs that I see I have in common with this kid,” Bonaduce said, “You know, you can Google it, I can Google it, I went through some ridiculously hard times for very close to 30 years before I got it together. If someone can help get him together without wasting 30 years of his life that would be wonderful.”

Related: Listen to ‘The Danny Bonaduce Show’ on

Bonaduce says he has no stake in Bieber, but believes he’s a talented kid who he’d like to see get his act together before it’s too late. “What is it going to escalate to? What will it be next week?” Bonaduce questioned. “And seriously, if he doesn’t educate himself we’re going to be talking about, ‘Can you believe Justin Bieber is dead?’ I think anyone would actually say, ‘Yeah, I saw this coming.'”

But looking back five years ago, when Bieber first hit the scene, most people wouldn’t have seen this coming.

The Canadian singer—who talked openly about his faith and his close relationship with his mom—got his start on YouTube at the tender age of 14. He made a name for himself with innocent pop songs like “One Less Lonely Girl” and “Baby,” earning him a loyal group of fans better known as his Beliebers. The sugary sweet teen sensation, who found a mentor in Usher and earned the 2012 cover of Forbes for his venture capitalist ways, seemed to be on top of the world. That was, until hormones kicked in.

Dr. Adi Jaffe, Research Director at Alternatives Addiction Treatment Center in Beverly Hills, believes in all seriousness that Bieber’s age could be a factor in his most recent reckless behavior, which follows a search warrant executed on Bieber’s home in Calabasas, California, where drugs and drug paraphernalia were found. Bieber was not charged.

“Rebellion could be an issue here, since that is common among teens and young adults Justin’s age, but it could be a sign that he is becoming less able to control, or hide, that rebellion,” Dr. Jaffe wrote in an email to “Justin is just 19 and we know that, especially for boys, self-control doesn’t fully mature in the brain until around the age of 25.”

Justin Bieber exits the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center in Miami, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)Bieber exits the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center in Miami on Jan. 23. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Dr. Jaffe pointed out that though Bieber would like to say he’s a normal 19-year-old, your average teen isn’t being followed by hundreds of cameras and having their daily lives publicized in the daily tabloids. “I would say Justin is what happens when you take a normal young adult and put them under a microscope – everything looks much bigger and more extreme,” he wrote.

In his opinion, Bieber’s arrest could simply be nothing more than “an inflated 19-year-old ego with a license to do things most people dream of and little consequence,” but notes that if left unchecked his actions could escalate and eventually lead to a complete disregard for boundaries, regardless of who sets them. “That’s where real legal and criminal consequences may begin to amass,” Dr. Jaffe wrote.

DeAnna Jordan, Clinical Director at New Method Wellness in San Juan Capistrano, California, agreed that Bieber is still young, but expressed concern over the media’s handling of the arrest. Calling Bieber’s actions “signs of rebellion,” she wrote in an email to, is the public’s way of  “staying in denial of Hollywood’s normalization of alcoholism and drug addiction.”

“Bieber’s denial is very common amongst drug addicts and alcoholics,” Jordan, a drug abuse counselor for over 20 years, wrote. “The public needs to realize that there are many 19-year-olds who do not drink, race cars and/or have friends arrested at their homes for possession charges.”

Jordan said going to jail isn’t the solution to Bieber’s problems (“getting arrested can be a valuable bottom but not always a necessary one”); instead she felt what he needed was a strong support system that could encourage him to get help.

“In my experience, the best way to help an addict who is out of control, is always an intervention,” Jordan wrote. “A confrontation of the consequences of one’s behavior, by loved ones, is often necessary for any sort of accountability. Bieber’s mother would be wise to confront his behavior, to get an interventionist and get him some professional help. The consequences of his behavior are only going to get worse.”

Related: Justin Bieber’s Party Posse: A Primer on Khalil, Lil Za & Lil Twist

For a star like Bieber, it’s questionable whether he will actually face any serious from his behavior. As lawyer Areva Martin pointed out in an email to, young stars like Lindsay Lohan and Chris Brown have managed to bypass serious jail time thanks to expert legal teams.

“It hurts in that there is pressure on prosecutors to ‘not give stars star treatment,'” Martin wrote. “We have too many examples from Lindsay to Britney [Spears] to Chris Brown of celebrities pushing the limits of the law and only when pushed to the brink actually ending up with severe penalties such as jail time. Often, they can avert jail by checking into rehab as we see many do.”

Since Bieber could face jail time due to his most recent misdemeanor charges, Martin does advise he check into rehab and anger management. “His prior conduct suggests he has a problem with authority, decision making and substance abuse,” she stated. “The judge is going to want to see that he understands the destructive path he is on and the serious nature of it. If he does these things, and stays out of trouble, he has a chance of staying out of jail.”

Dr. Jaffe also believed that Bieber could avoid jail time, but only if someone who he trusts is willing to step in and help the young star.

“The best solution is for someone close to JB, whom he respects, to sit him down and have a real honest conversation about the direction his life is taking,” Dr. Jaffe wrote. “Then it’s time to figure out what sort of help, if needed, Justin will partake in. I don’t think we’ve reached anything near a point-of-no-return situation but it is time for someone to explain what real adulthood is going bring along with it: consequences.”







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