American entertainment figures cycle in and out of addiction rehab, stardom, prison - and, ultimately, Dr. Drew's Celebrity Rehab, for which he is constantly recruiting by analyzing whichever star addict is in the news.


The Stanton Peele Addiction Website, November 7, 2010. This blog post also appeared on Stanton's Addiction in Society blog at

Charlie Sheen, Dr. Drew, Prostitutes, and the Recovery Mafia

TV gossip shows are fed by a revolving band of recovered guys boasting about their recovery and discussing the relapses of other of their members.

CNN interviewed Tom Sizemore about Charlie Sheen, whom Sizemore said he had been unsuccessfully trying to reach. Sizemore is a man whose own acting career was derailed by drugs - he first underwent treatment for addiction in 1998. The Daily Beast says he was sober from 1997-2002, but then developed a meth addiction and beat girlfriend Heidi Fleiss - for which he was convicted in 2003 and served 17 months in prison. Sizemore entered Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew and then Sober House, and now at 47, he has been sober for 17 months. According to the Beast, Sizemore is hotter than ever and is now awash in projects.

CNN interviewed Sizemore about Charlie Sheen since they couldn't get anyone who actually had talked to him. He dropped Robert Downey's name as someone who was likewise trying to reach out to Charlie. So is Charlie's father, whose name Sizemore also drops, since he too is in recovery: "Marty knows all about it." Of course, Dr. Drew made his usual claims, "He needs to be in recovery, rather than going back to work - it is impossible to work and do rehab, in my opinion." Dr. Drew predicted doom if Sheen doesn't enter treatment: "We haven't learned from Michael Jackson and other cases that we are seeing someone who is seriously, seriously ill" - although so far it is the women in Sheen's life who have had the most to fear. Meanwhile, Sizemore fantasized about Charlie getting a heart attack but not dying, and being paralyzed!

Dr. Drew suggests a media vulture, circling the latest carrion. In a famous recent example, he recommended that Lindsay Lohan's father plant drugs in Lohan's car, then call the police, in order to get her into treatment . This, despite his acknowledgement that Lohan "has had excellent treatment in the past at outstanding treatment programs." So why should we expect better results this time? As I have suggested, Lohan and others may be receiving the wrong treatment since they respond so poorly to - and regularly relapse following - standard 12-step programs. Don't years of futility dictate attempting something new?

Like Lohan, Sizemore, Martin Sheen, and so many others who have cycled through treatment, Charlie himself knows all about rehab - he had a well-chronicled stay for his addiction to cocaine and pills in 1998. Then again, he had been in rehab before that, following which then-girlfriend Brittany Ashland filed charges that he beat her. But, after his second stint in '98, Sheen described how rehab saved him. In this period Sizemore says that Sheen tried to get him into treatment - it seems one is always attempting to get the other into rehab - a rotating crew of sobriety-addiction buffs.

There is a deep sexual-violence undercurrent to Sheen's substance use. CNN reviewed Denise Richards' accusations that Charlie was accessing porn sites about prepubescent girls, which provoked one of his outbursts towards her. He also put a knife to the throat of Brooke Mueller, the wife he is currently divorcing, when both were drunk. Both entered treatment, bringing along their two children . In terms of violence towards the women in his life, Sheen previously accidentally shot girlfriend Kelly Preston in the arm.

Not every man who becomes intoxicated strikes out at women (just as all drunks don't disparage Jews). The latest Charlie Sheen story involves an alleged prostitute at the Plaza Hotel whom he threatened in a violent outburst. Whether the woman in this case is a prostitute, Sheen's predilection for that profession and for porn stars has constantly erupted throughout his career - including his avid involvement with Fleiss' call girl business.

The character Sheen plays in his incredibly popular television series, Two and a Half Man, has non-stop women - and he doesn't have to pay for sex. What's the difference between Sheen the wealthy actor-family man (Richards was in the Plaza hotel with their two daughters for a family reunion when Sheen trashed his room, while Sheen also has two children with Mueller and another child from a prior relationship) and the single bon vivant he plays on television?

Well, Sheen can't control his prostitute habit, while the character he plays shows enough respect for his nephew that he doesn't go there (although he does parade women in and out of his bedroom on the show, sometimes several at once). One episode had Sheen and his brother in the series, Jon Cryer, being taken to Las Vegas where they were offered the services of prostitutes. On television, this inspired the men to reflect on the impact their mother's active sex life - with men revolving in and out of their home - had on them, leading to valuable self-insight. But we have never seen such introspection emanating from the actor behind the series - how do his frequent excursions with prostitutes impact his kids, like the two children staying in the Plaza?

Certainly, Sheen's repeated treatments haven't resolved his violent tendencies towards women. In his CNN interview, Sizemore excuses Sheen's anger with the woman in his room and the damage he did there because Sheen was reportedly upset over losing his watch - an anger Sizemore indicated was understandable, since he had had similar experiences himself. Perhaps Sheen and Sizemore need a different kind of treatment than one that convinces them they have an uncontrollable disease caused by external substances.