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Charlie Sheen's 'home-based rehab' draws skepticism

Booster Shots: Oddities, musings and news from the
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February 25, 2011|By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times
  • Charlie Sheen arrives at the Pitkin County Courthouse on Aug. 2, 2010, in Aspen, Colo.
Charlie Sheen arrives at the Pitkin County Courthouse on Aug. 2, 2010, in… (Riccardo S. Savi / Getty…)

Charlie's Sheen's most recent antics have led to the cancellation of his show for the remainder of the season just days before Sheen was to return to production after a "home-based" substance-abuse rehab program.

Sheen seems to heap one bad decision after another. Among them, his choice of home-based rehab after being briefly hospitalized last month. According to specialists in addiction medicine, a home-based rehab program is not considered a legitimate treatment. Multiple studies show that the best chance for recovery comes from long-term inpatient or intensive outpatient therapies that include both individual and group counseling.

"There is no such thing as home-based rehab," said John Schwarzlose, chief executive for the Betty Ford Center, a hospital for addiction treatment in Rancho Mirage. "When I saw that term -- home-based rehab -- I got very sad because we are watching someone who is going to die. No doctor would advise this. It doesn't ring of legitimacy."

Most doctors recommend a minimum of 30 days of inpatient treatment for someone who is addicted or has relapsed. Some people, typically celebrities or people with demanding careers, may participate in outpatient therapies with the help of a coach, Schwarzlose said. These so-called sober companions live with and accompany the patient to their jobs, on errands and to 12-step meetings. Texas Rangers star Josh Hamilton, who has battled drug addiction, has used a sober companion in recent seasons.

"But that only works if it comes after a legitimate treatment," Schwarzlose said.

Other types of outpatient treatments typically involve at least 12 hours of week of meetings at a treatment center. Isolation is not recommended. In fact, he said, one of the central tenets of treatment is separation from one's normal environment in favor of involvement with other people who are in treatment.

"It's important that you are immersed into a community," he said. "The group is at the core."

Schwarzlose said he is concerned that some people will read about Sheen's home-based rehab and will seek similar treatment instead of the tried-and-true methods.

"There will be people who read that and say, well, hell, I'm going to do it at home," he said. "People always look for a softer, easier way."

Recovery from addiction isn't easy. But, with his show on indefinite hiatus, Sheen now has plenty of time to dedicate himself to the real work of recovery.

Related: Fast Track: Charlie Sheen's rants lead to a 'Two and a Half Men' shutdown

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