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I liked Charlie Sheen’s “Platoon,” but not his comedic “work” (that’s a pretentious word used by America’s self-aggrandizing entertainers and jesters to describe their occupation). Sheen does, however, get high marks for bucking the drug-addiction industry, which bullies drug users into treatment and has fabricated a science in support of the disease theory of addiction.
Following a dispute with the CBS television network, which screens “Two and a Half Men,” Sheen’s highly contrived sitcom, the actor offered up some fighting words for the addiction industry’s emissaries. He told CNN’s Piers Morgan that he’d been around them for 22 years and that they’ve been lying to him for the duration:
“I’m a winner, and their lives look like they’re – you know, ruled by losers. Just to put it in black-and-white terms. I don’t want their lives, and they want mine, but they want to criticize the hell out of it. … I don’t believe myself to be an addict. I really don’t. I think that I just ignore or smash or finally dismiss a model that I think is rooted in vintage balderdash, for lack of a better word.”
On the “Alex Jones Show,” Sheen called Alcoholics Anonymous a “bootleg cult,” which had shackled and oppressed him for decades. “I finally [extricated] myself from their troll hole and started living my life the way I want to live it.”
Celebrity News Service reported that the 45-year-old actor went on to accuse AA of suffocating his soul: “They hijacked my brain; they brainwashed my friends and my family. Now I hate them violently, and I will use every soldier in my army to defend myself against them, ’cause they will come at me. They will come at me with all of their doctors and their talking heads and all their other freakin’ loser clowns.”
Unlike the automatons of the entertainment industry – and the population at large – the intemperate Mr. Sheen refuses to accept as holy writ the teachings of a therapeutic cult that coerces its adherents into conformity.
Mr. Sheen’s bare-fanged fury notwithstanding, he has said nothing that Stanton Peele, a renowned addiction expert, has not said before him. The author of “Diseasing of America: How We Allowed Recovery Zealots and the Treatment Industry to Convince Us We Are Out of Control” has strongly opposed the “troll” treatment model, which relies on scare tactics and junk science to gain lifelong, unrivaled control over patients.
The object of Sheen’s barbs on the “Today” show shifted to the AA’s “5 percent success rate.” Not even addiction agony aunt Dr. Drew Pinsky could dispute Sheen’s irreverent but oh-so-right recitation of AA’s record. “He’s got a point,” Pinsky admitted to TMZ.com. “Their success rates aren’t that great … but it does work when people do it.”
Precisely: Addicts are “cured” when they decide to give up the habit. “Those who beat their addictions do so, in every case, by aligning themselves with their own values and purpose in life,” writes Peele.
The rationale for erroneously applying the medical-disease model to complex, coordinated and volitional actions, cultivated over years, might help to remove the stigma from these lifestyle choices. However, drug addicts recover once they resolve to quit or moderate their excesses. As Dr. Peele told this writer (in an interview conducted some years back for the Calgary Herald): “The toughest addiction to quit is smoking. Right now about 50 million Americans have quit smoking, over 90 percent without a patch or formal therapy. Most recovery occurs outside treatment.”
If anything, a 4,500-subject-strong epidemiological study, conducted in 1996 by the National Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiological Survey, has confirmed that treated alcoholics are more heavily alcohol dependent on average than untreated alcoholics. If the AA method works for you, fine. But “the cults that beckon with their disempowering siren song” are not for everyone – and certainly not for an individualist such as Sheen.
At his boldest and most subversive, Dr. Peele informed me that “there is no inherited mechanism that leads a person to be unable to control their substance use, to go on tremendous binges, or to leave off their connection to people and environments in order to consume a substance. Genetic theories, being the modest things they are, can never explain the experience of loss of control. An overview of the research on alcohol and drugs never supports the wild claims made by some proponents of the disease model. These claims reflect fundamentally antiscientific attitudes and a lack of understanding of the confluence of human motivation in response to experience, biology and external stimuli.”
Naturally, the shamans, left and right, are furious with Sheen (and would be with Dr. Peele had he not joined The Huffington Post, where he now takes a softer, less strident position, better suited to left-liberal sensibilities). In thinking about addiction, opinions have converged. So-called social progressives and conservatives alike share the same ideological hangover from the Prohibition era (with a touch of AA sadism). Dr. Keith Ablo, like Drew Pinsky, is thus every bit as religious about roping the actor into abstinence and AA.
Oh well, at least one hedonist is having a hell of a time flouting their fiction. I commend Mr. Sheen for copping to being a bad boy, and not a sick boy, desperate for the ministrations of prissy prohibitionists.