Charlie Sheen is going to rehab. Has this ever worked for *anyone*?

I’m asking because I just caught myself making a sarcastic joke about this to a friend. Now, I don’t have any beef with Mr. Sheen – in fact, before this, I was unaware that he had substance abuse issues. I just caught him and Martin Sheen on a clip, where they talk about his disease (and I’m not looking to start an argument over whether or not drug addiction is a disease – lets keep this to rehab).

I’ve had my own issues with substance abuse. It’s no fun. Well, rather, its a hell of a lot of fun at first, and then it gradually becomes quite awful. Chasing that dragon, and all that – pick your metaphor. I feel that the only way to quit substance abuse is to truly want to – and then to do it. That is, to literally STOP USING THE SUBSTANCE.

I should note that, with certain drugs (sheesh, why was I using the euphemism “substance”, there, anyway?), YES, you absolutely need to quit them under the care of a qualified professional. This is what I would call “detox” – the physical “getting off”. For example, hardcore alcoholics often need to take regular doses of benzodiazepines, in order to avoid the dreaded delirium tremens, and possible seizures, which can KILL you. So yes, by all means, see a doctor.

Rehab, on the other hand, strikes me as something that those who have the money use as a vacation, in a sense. Most insurance plans (as far as I know) don’t cover weeks of in-patient rehab – I’m not trying to make this a “class issue”, but certainly, people like Charlie Sheen can afford to go live in an idyllic setting for a few weeks, attend “group therapy classes”, and do all sorts of other activities designed to get him to avoid relapse.

My beef is this: I’ve never seen any evidence that its effective, particularly amongst those of means. I’m not talking Hollywood celebs, here, necessarily, either – I’m talking about friends of mine. People who’ve gone to rehab four, five, ten, twenty times. They come out feeling great, and ready to face their demons – and it lasts all of a few days (or weeks, if they have some stamina). I call this the “camp meeting” effect, after Mark Twain’s description of people who “get religion” during a camp meeting, and then lose their fervor once the whole circus packs up and leaves town. Basically, I believe that rehab only works while people are in rehab – after that point, they almost always go back to their old habits, they see their old friends (and dealers), and the cycle begins anew.

This wouldn’t really be an issue if not for two things. One is the hypocrisy: just as the new church member displays the strongest devotion, the recently “reborn” rehab-man is immediately above those who’re still struggling with their particular demons. After all, they went to rehab, and that cures you, right?

The second is…well, cynical. This is one we’ve certainly all observed, if we ever catch newsbites about the celebrity drug-abusers; they’re going to rehab because it allows them to avoid jail. How many times was Lindsay Lohan caught drunk driving and posessing cocaine? Four, five? She gets to buy her way out of the unpleasantness. Most people can’t afford it, so they either do the time, or they get pushed into the non-plush version of “rehab”, which is government-run “accelerated rehabilitation” classes. Nothing inherently wrong with these gov-run programs – the problem is that one’s punishment depends on one’s wallet, and thats not right.

I’m sure this got a little rambling. I suspect that in-patient, multi-week “plush” rehab centers have worked for plenty of people. Maybe I simply haven’t seen it. Further, I’m not sure what I’m arguing for, here – that Sheen go to jail? Certainly not. I’m ultimately for complete drug legalization. I suppose I’ll sum it up with this:

I think high-cost rehab centers are kidding themselves about their effectiveness. I think their effectiveness (in terms of those who attend, leave, and never “reoffend”) is probably in the single-digits, percent-wise. And for some people, I think the best thing for them is – if not jail – to simply separate them from their drug friends, and their dealers.

Anyway, what’re peoples’ thoughts, here? Is multi-week, inpatient rehab effective? Should people be sentenced to it, as opposed to jail-time? Should we just leave those who choose to use to their own devices?

I have a few friends that have been through different programs for addiction(s).

They have had varying degrees of success, I would say they and society are better off with them ‘clean and sober’.

I honestly don’t know how many inpatient, outpatient rehabs, halfway-houses and intensive counciling groups I have been to. No less than ten I am sure of that. One did stick for a time
I spent three months in jail waiting to go to a 9 month experimental rehab in a prison then 5 months halfway-house then three months outpatient while on probation. I probally got 6 months sober out of that one once counciling ended. I think I mostly agree. They don’t work all that well for keeping a person sober. My beef with them is that They are usually to cush. Circle groups patting each other on the ass, war stories, and crying. Way to much energy spent on why one started using than firm strong commands to stop. It does not matter why you started. It is like figuring out why yo have lung cancer. It don’t really mater. You Just have to deal now. Plus most are not in the right mind coming off drugs and alcohol to figure this shit out. Some of the more hard core places teach some good skills. And help with some underlying behaviors but they are rarely effective. And for some people it just takes ten times. I eneded up with over 12 years sober Just by deciding to stop. No AA and or professional meetings. Although all those rehabs did help me on one way or another overall. I learned how to talk listen feel and be open.

Russell Brand went through a successful rehab for heroin addiction at this place. According to his autobiography it was pretty gruelling.

I think the majority of rehab patients stop taking drugs. A rehab facility, after all, is an environment designed to support people not taking drugs. The trick is to continue not using drugs after you leave the rehab environment and go back to the environment where you were using drugs before.

We never hear about when rehab works successfully because it’s not newsworthy, we only hear about when they’re going back to jail/rehab AGAIN. I know Robert Downey, Jr. went to rehab and prison for his drug abuse, but he’s been clean and sober (as far as we know) since 2004.

If he spent ten years going (on and off) to rehab and only went clean at about the same time as a man his age would generally go clean, that’s not necessarily meaningful.

This thread could use a lot fewer anecdotes and a lot more cites.

What in the world does that mean? “…a man his age would generally go clean”?

Wasn’t sheens father an alcoholic?

Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of cites for this.

From what I know, relapse rate is over 50% though first time through residential rehab, but I don’t think I could find a cite.

But does it work for ANYONE? Yes. There are people who go through once and get clean. And there are people whose wealthy parents send them over and over again until they die.

Like cancer, addiction is a relapsing disease.

Some are fortunate to only need one intervention; others need more before they go into remission. And lots of others fail to achieve remission, or relapse after remission despite multiple interventions and the best efforts of treatment teams.

I’ve been to a couple rehabs.

Whether or not it works, as far as I can tell, depends mostly on one variable. That is if the person really wants to quit or not.

If the person really wants to quit then I think rehabs can be of tremendous value. There are a couple reasons. First, it gets the user into an environment where drugs are not available. Second it gets the user away from friends or family who might put pressure on the user to relapse. Third, and this is for the higher end rehabs, they make you confront and deal with the wreckage that the drugs or alcohol created with the people in your life.

IMHO, this last one is huge. I went to a very expensive rehab that is known as one of the best in the country. Up there with Betty Ford. I ended up relapsing after going there. At the same time, the things I did there helped enormously when I did get clean. The hardest, and best, part of the whole thing was called family week. Basically your family comes in and spends a week telling you how your addiction affected them. Then you and your family do all kinds of work on dealing with those issues. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to deal with. At the same time it was extremely helpful.

The reason for this is pretty simple. When you are an addict you end up hurting those in your life you love the most . When you get sober all that anger and hurt still exists. And guilt. And all kinds of other stuff. For may addicts who are trying to get clean these negative emotions are a huge problem. They end up using again to bury the guilt and shame. By confronting it with those you hurt you can, hopefully, get past those issues. Cleaning up the past emotional issues can make getting clean much easier.

Like I said, I used after going to that rehab. A couple notes about that. I was out of options when I went and went mainly because I didn’t have any other ideas of what to do at the time. My underlying motive was not to get clean but to do something. That didn’t help me in the long run. Second, I went from rehab to back out on my own way too quickly. I should of done a half way house. After care is huge. Third, when I finally did get sober, I was able to rely on all the tools and stuff I learned at that rehab to do the right things with family and friends.

On a side note, I went to rehab with three very famous folks. You’d know them if I said their names. Out of the three, two are still sober. One had a major relapse that hit the news IIRC and I believe is sober again.

Out of the people I went to rehab with and keep in contact with, one other person relapsed but is now sober for 5 + years. The other 4 have been clean since they went through the program*.


Sober for 6 years and 11 months

*Yeah, it is anecdotal but there ya go.

I seem to recall reading something about Martin Sheen having to stop drinking, although possibly he is not what one would consider an alcoholic. I think he said something about having to “white knuckle” his way out of drinking, but he never went so far that he had to hit bottom and go into rehab or something like that.

Amy Winehouse made a song about it, so it does indeed work.

He was a heavy drinker - during the shoot for Apocalypse Now, when he had a heart attack in his mid-thirties, he has said he was drinking quite heavily. As for an addict, I don’t know. Certainly not to the level of, say, Charlie Sheen. Martin says that his Catholicism helped him quit drinking, but later started attending AA meetings in order to learn if there was a way to help Charlie out.

It must be terrible spending twenty years trying to get your kid sober. I wonder if he’s just given up.

Alice Cooper and Nikki Syxx are pretty good examples of people who rehab worked for (after multiple relapses, natch).

The OP is a little OT at least as to old Charlie because from the start he backpedaled on “rehab” and clarified that he would be doing “rehab at home,” which is to say, not doing rehab at all, because there’s no such thing as “rehab at home.”

In his case, at least, “rehab” was intended as nothing other than a faux-regretful excuse (more generally, “I’m going to rehab” often spins quickly into “the real victim, amongst all my bad behavior, is me, with my illness.”).

If you had any doubt about the nature of Charlie’s “rehab at home,” consider that it has apparently now morphed to “rehab in the Bahamas with three concubines.”

I wonder if rehab for celebrities is more likely to help if their career has pretty much disappeared. Charlie snorts, drinks, and bangs his way through anything he can grab and then shows up to collect his ludicrously large paycheques for his piece of shit show. Where’s his incentive to stop? While someone like Downey has said that the breakup of his marriage and being unable to get movie roles were pretty good motivations to get sober.

Might be a wash as the pain of being on the skids could incentivize even more self-medication. Who knows?

I think you have a good point. I recall Nell “Gimme A Break” Carter was asked why she was broke. She said that while she was making $20,000 a week she was spending $20,000 a week on cocaine. It was only after she went broke and had no way to obtain drug money that she was finally able to break the cycle.

That’s one problem

Maureen “Marcia Brady” McCormick was also addicted to coke. She said, it never really occured to her all the time she was using what she was losing, until one day she and her husband were arguing. She said, her husband was always kind and polite to her and in the middle of an argument, McCormick said she said something not true and very nasty and her husband came back with, “At least I didn’t put a quater of a million dollars up my nose.”

She said it was at that point, when she, for the first time in her life, was hurting for money did she realize what she was doing and was able to stop it.

Did Betty Ford ever fall off the wagon again?