The news reports on Charlie Sheen’s recent exploits make excellent fodder for examining our culture’s beliefs about addiction. They’re giving me too many ideas to write about. For now, I’ll focus on the schizophrenic nature of our beliefs. A report in the Daily News questions the wisdom of Sheen’s latest treatment episode, which he will undergo at home rather than at a treatment center:
The clearest benefit for a patient receiving rehabilitation treatment at home is that he receives all the comforts of, well, home.
But this can be a mixed blessing.
The only mixed thing here is the logic of the recovery culture. The article goes on to bring up a bunch of non-issues – that it’s inconvenient to bring medical equipment to him, or that it’s expensive. Like I said, these are non-issues, because he has tons of money to facilitate such things, not to mention he’s probably been using cocaine which doesn’t result in the need for the kind of intensive detox procedures that opiate, barbiturate, and alcohol users sometimes need. He’ll get the medical care he wants, and a few doctors and nurses will get healthy paychecks, what’s the big deal? Oh, here’s the big deal:
Making an addict feel “at home” isn’t always the wisest treatment move.
“Every time you sacrifice something to make rehab more ‘like home’—you are catering to the way the addict’s life is currently operating,” said Dr. David Moore, psychologist and author of the NY Daily News weekly column ‘Addictions & Answers.’
For example, Sheen is likely to have full access to his cell phone and internet, a luxury that is usually denied to patients first entering rehab.
Notice the word “catering” in that quote, there’s a boatload of contempt hiding underneath it – contempt which creeps out from under the rock long enough to extend it’s claws towards cell phones and internet service.
Even if the patient being treated at home has every medical marvel at his fingertips, there’s one thing he’s likely to miss out on – group counseling.
Sheen may be intent on avoiding the cameras but he may have trouble succeeding in sobriety if he doesn’t have contact with non-celebrity addicts.
“It requires a very motivated person,” said Levounis. “Part of rehabilitation is asking for help, having humility and the ability for introspection. You can’t bring an AA meeting into someone’s home. It’s helpful if the patient is willing to leave the home for group therapy and counseling.”
Ahhh yes, he needs to humble himself. It all becomes clear now, he needs to be taken down a peg, be deprived of the ability to communicate freely via cellphones and internet, stop being catered to, get off his high horse and mix it up with non-celebs, he needs AA meetings and group therapy. These are the attitudes of people whose ideas have no real basis in reality. Is addiction a disease which requires treatment? That seems to be the consensus, after all, the experts in this article are discussing medical treatment – yet it sounds like they’re also discussing the best way to punish him and crush his ego. This situation gives me so much insight into their constant calls to “accept that it’s a disease so we can stop punishing people and start treating them”. I now realize that when they say that, it’s really directed at themselves, not the people like me who challenge the disease concept. They don’t see a man who could choose to change, they see nothing more than an animal who at best, could possibly be tamed into submission. To them, the question is whether this dog is rabid, or simply behaving badly. To be sure, they’ll give him some rabies shots, then hit his nose with a rolled up newspaper and wipe his face in his own piss for good measure.
Those of us who don’t buy the disease concept see a third option – we don’t need to try to control this man, punish him, or beat him into submission, we’d like to try to appeal to him as a human being, we’d like to appeal to his mind, wouldn’t that be an amazing tact to take?
Read the full story at The Daily News:
For the record, I’ve read quite a few studies recently that show no added benefit to group therapy when compared to individual therapy – the main difference is cost.