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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Book Me a Room at Rehab!!

Lindsay, Britney, Colin Farrell, Joaquin Phoenix, Mel Gibson, Daniel Baldwin, Billy Joel, Robert Downey, Jr., Boy George, Jesse Metcalfe, Whitney Houston, Pete Doherty, Robbin Williams . . . and the list goes on for celebs who chose the rehab route—to get clean, to improve their image, to atone for bigoted comments, or to just have a vacation in a place with a peaceful name, like “Crossroads,” “Promises,” or “Wonderland.”

Britney Spears checked into rehab for the third time in a week after shearing her hair. A 30-day-stay away from a habitual life of excesses can do nothing, especially when a person returns to that life, the very one addicts are advised to avoid. So this brand of rehab couldn’t have helped her.

Lindsay Lohan cycled in and out of rehab, the last time sporting ankle gear to accessorize a faux Victoria’s Secret ensemble, more a fashion statement than a serious accountability guide. Her “treatment” allowed exit whenever she choose to shop, eat out, party, or just breathe free. This kind of rehab couldn’t have helped her, either.

We are told it takes 21 days to change a habit. But that’s when someone is serious that her habit needs changing. Anna David, ex-drug addict, alcoholic, and author of “Party Girl,” says that rehab works for desperate people, and the trouble is that celebs are not desperate enough. Well put! Nobody can change unless she wants to, unless she is, indeed, “desperate” to get better. Britney says she never needed rehab, and is now angry at those who put her there, so obviously, she wasn’t desperate for any sort of salvation. For her, for Lindsay, and for too many other celebs, rehab visits are simply image control mechanisms, not self-directed necessities to get healthy. Even if there is buy-in, with relapse rates ranging from 50 to 90 percent, many rounds of treatment are often necessary. Daniel Baldwin rehabbed 9 times! How fortunate he had the funds to finance all his re-visits.

In order for healing to occur: 1) The effort behind the rehab entrance must be more than just a cliché. A celeb must break through his/her denial barrier, and admit s/he has a true problem; 2) s/he needs a controlled environment, not a cushy spa, and not one in which s/he can waltz in and out at whim depending on which enabler is partying where. In the Betty Ford days of celebrity check-in, no one heard from a star until s/he was better; 3) a rehab facility must be more than just a place to lay low. It must provide tools to get to the core of why the person is addicted in the first place.

Getting healthy is a tough, continuing goal. For real healing to occur, there must be commitment and accountability not only before, but also, long after the rehab retreat is over. That means avoiding the parties, people, and places that enabled the addiction from the start. It requires a total change of life style. Unfortunately, the decision-making part of the brain, the pre-frontal cortex, doesn’t fully mature until a person is in his/her mid-twenties. So, in addition to drastically changing the only life these child stars have known, there is also need for a support system of mature thinkers. Although Britney is 26, she had rebelled against her mother before, and now she has totally disowned her. Lindsay is just 21, but her mom appears to be more friend than maternal influence. Both these girls are very talented. How sad that as rich as they are financially, they are so impoverished of mature, loving adults to guide them.