Hollywood: Stop the Deadly Spin

Actor Corey Haim lost his long battle with drugs and alcohol, and now he's dead at 38. The world has watched the progression of his disease for a decade. We saw sobriety slip away from him over and over again. Unfortunately, Corey is not an isolated case. Millions of Americans die of alcoholism and addiction, because they don't fully surrender to the fact that they can't pick up no matter what. It's a slow death sentence.

I hope Charlie Sheen and his wife, Brooke Mueller, are paying attention, and that the rest of America wakes up to listen to the message that alcoholism kills.

As for Hollywood, I'm sick and tired of the spin. I've been working in the field of drug rehabilitation for over twenty years, have been a recovering alcoholic and addict for 25 years, and never have I heard of "prehab." It's the creation of a management team that is more interested in protecting their financial interest in the product called Charlie Sheen.

Charlie Sheen is a human being who has been known for years as an addict/alcoholic. Let's call a spade a spade. He relapsed, and he needs to go back into treatment for his addiction.

There is no such thing as preventative treatment for alcoholism. That's like being a little pregnant. If you got it, you got it.

Charlie Sheen and Brooke Mueller are professionals at drugging and drinking. Somewhere in their use of alcohol and drugs to fix their problems they crossed the line. Despite serious consequences, they continued with their insanity. It got worse and worse, as it does for all of us with this disease.

The sad thing is that now they have children -- so it is imperative that for the sake of their children, they face the reality that they need to surrender to the fact that they have to abstain from all mind-altering substances. As parents, they have a responsibility to look after their
disease, just as they would if they had diabetes or cancer and do the work to stay sober on a daily basis.

Charlie and Brooke have to regularly attend 12-step meetings, just like the rest of us. For all their money and fame, they still have to do the work. They can hire nannies, chefs, personal trainers, drivers and the rest of the entourage, but they have to take their 'medicine' or they will keep relapsing over and over. They will stay in the drama, and it will be jails, institutions or death.

Corey Haim, Michael Jackson, Anna Nicole Smith -- the list goes on and on. Their deaths could have been prevented by looking after their addictions. When Hollywood publicists, agents and managers lie to protect, they actually perpetuate their clients' shame and denial, which keeps them in the vicious cycle of relapse. Obviously, the handlers do this out of ignorance of the disease and fear of losing their money makers, but the damage has a domino effect that can be deadly. The addict and alcoholic's secrets keep him sick. If you avoid your daily treatment, you die.

Hollywood needs to get honest, so it can start to become a leader in helping people get better, instead of helping people to cover up an incurable, progressive disease. Over 8 million people suffer from alcoholism, and 13.8 million are problem drinkers. What can be prevented with honesty about your disease is the avoidance of deaths and the suffering of the families and friends who watch their loved ones self-destruct.

If I were to spin here, I would say half of Hollywood is sober and we're waiting for the other half -- and I wouldn't be too far off. Recovery is possible and rewarding, but it's a process, and chronic relapsing can ultimately be deadly, as we see with the tragic death of Corey Haim.