Rehab should be taken seriously

Rehab should be taken seriously

By Stephanie Shore

At one time, checking into rehab was something to be embarrassed about. It was the last step when a person reached rock bottom. Rehab was where someone went when every other option had expired, or if a court ordered him or her to go. Nowadays, it’s a career saver for celebrities – a Band Aid.

At least, that’s how it is in the public spotlight. For regular people, rehab is still a last resort. It’s real, and it’s not pleasant. It sometimes means losing your job. It means seriously committing to a long-term stay in a clinic. And if people find out, it can mean a lifelong stigma.

However, if you’re a politician or a celebrity, it simply means a quick fix for public embarrassment. As Mark Harris wrote in Entertainment Weekly, Feb. 2, “Pop culture (and that includes all of us who are pop culture consumers) has become addicted to a cycle of misbehavior followed by regret followed by a warm wallow in forgiveness in which we agree to pretend that saying you’re sorry undoes whatever was done.”

The examples are endless.

Tara Conner, Miss USA 2006, recently agreed to check into rehab after drinking underage and testing positive for cocaine. Because she agreed to rehab, she will be allowed to keep her title. Sure, she broke the law and used illegal drugs, but hey, she’s “seeking treatment,” and therefore, she must still be a model citizen.

“Grey’s Anatomy” star Isaiah Washington, after allegedly using an anti-gay slur on the set, checked himself in for intensive counseling in January, saying, “I regard this as a necessary step toward understanding why I did what I did and making sure it never happens again.” He will continue to appear on the show.

Last year Mark Foley, a Republican Congressman from Florida, checked into rehab, also for alcoholism, after it was made public that he sent sexual messages to teenage boys working as congressional pages.

And who could forget the Mel Gibson debacle? After launching a drunken anti-Semitic tirade on a cop, Gibson checked himself into rehab for alcoholism, and swore he didn’t actually have a problem with Jews. It was just the booze talking, really. Whatever, Mel. Ever heard the saying, “A drunken man’s words are a sober man’s thoughts?” Oh, well. Rehab it is.

Essentially, Michael Richards referred himself for treatment for being a racist (“anger issues”). Rev. Ted Haggard went through three weeks of treatment for being gay (“allegations of sexual misconduct with a man”), and “emerged convinced that he is ‘completely heterosexual,'” according to CNN.

So in 2007, you can check into rehab for bigotry, sexual harassment and even racism. If the media is criticizing you, just claim to be an alcoholic. That’s much better than being – gasp – gay!

And going to rehab is easier now, too. One day, Lindsay Lohan was checking in to the Wonderland Center in Los Angeles. Nine days later, she was out taking her Mercedes to be serviced.

In response to widespread news of Lindsay’s day trips, her publicist told TMZ.com, a celebrity gossip website, “Lindsay is 100 percent not getting special treatment

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