Saturday, April 21, 2007


This week's Entertanment Weekly contains a fine column by Stephen King about rehab for alcoholics and drug users. Noting how many celebrities have gone into rehab recently (many, it seems, against their will), he talks about his own time in rehab in the early 1980s.

The contrast between the rehab center he chose (one of the images is of a room furnished in "Early YWCA" and you get the impression that this applies to the entire place) and the opulence of the rehab facilities where stars go today.

When my time came to give up drink and drugs, I rented a cabin on the river for two weeks and rode it out alone. I'd had friends who'd gone into rehab--hell, I 'd taken several of them there--but I knew I'd never make it with other people around. Cold turkey worked for me for two weeks. Tears, rage, fear, constant mood swings. Yes I can do this; of course I can't do this. I was proud of myself when I got back to the city. What I hadn't realized till then was that the cabin had been an escape. Staying dry in the course of days and nights with all my anger, shame, melancholy, loneliness and simple overwhelming need for whiskey and drugs...seeing people I hated and who hated me in return...going through the grind and pressure of shooting commercials...dealing with the shame of being the crazed self-destructive attack-dog addict I'd been...this was going to be very different from staying dry in the cabin. This was going to be one son of a bitch to master.

King talks about the process of stripping away as many of your self-delusions as you can in hopes of finally seeing yourslf as you really are. And who you really are addict. Doesn't matter if you're a world-famous writer or a garage mechanic. What you are first and foremost is an addict. Until you deal with that you can't sufficiently deal with anything else.

King wonders if this is the process the stars go through in their posh retreats. Like him, I doubt it it. I saw a ten minute cable report on one of these places and it resembled a luxurous resort more than anything else. The slick dude who ran the place had memorzied every feel good cliche that Dr. Phil hadn't already copyrighted. The rehab places I'd taken my buddies to were much like a boot camp. Strictly regimented, few visitors, constant counseling including group therapy. TV off at 9:30. I don't know if this is the right way to go but at least you have to face up to what you've done with your life.

As I watched Mr. New Age walk us through the paradise rehab he manages, it soon became obvious that what he was was the cruise director. He was there to see that his famous guests were happy. Difficult to imagine him putting the hammer down on somebody making several mil a year, especially when they're sharing the wealth with him. Somebody who can get your luxury rehab some serious media time. Somebody it'll be fun to gossip about with your intimates. Somebody who can get you invited to some pretty keen Hollywood parties after their month long stay is over.

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