Charlie Sheen was in Washington DC two nights ago, I read about the performance of his so called “Torpedo of Truth” tour-and I felt sorry for the man. Lots of people are expressing the same emotion, but mine is based on a far different reason than most of those shaking their heads and dismissing the man.
My reason is that I kind of understand why he feels compelled to humiliate himself this way. Most folks do not. They simply are shaking their heads and” tut-tut”- ing because they think he should just quit drinking, or snorting, or whatever it is he does, and if he doesn’t then it implies that there is some defect with him. Actually, the defect is not with Charlie ( really) it is with them-and their views of what right of control they think they have to exercise over his life.
Most of those looking down on Charlie Sheen just think that he needs to shuttle himself off to treatment. Take a couple of bouts of treatment, and everything will be all better. They generally say this while they themselves shuttle off to the refrigerator for another beer, or pour themselves some more wine, or mix themselves another drink.
Because they labor under the illusion-fostered and encouraged by America’s gigantic treatment machine-that the issue is simply about getting Charlie Sheen to stop drinking. Anyone can quite drinking for a period of time. Sailors prove that every cruise. Charlie however-and I am pretty confident in saying this-has discovered for himself what it is to be victimized by America’s ever growing machine of coerced 12 step treatment. And he, like many others, is not liking it very much. As a result he is angry-more than a little I’d say. The problem, my dear Scarlett, is not with Charlie Sheen’s drinking-its with understanding he can never quench his anger. The machine that is coerced 12 step treatment will never allow that. No matter how right one may be-it is simply a fight you can never win. And so the people who victimize you, get a free pass to go on victimizing you.
Because treatment for substance abuse-as practiced in the Whining States of America is not about quitting drinking. It’s about losing control of your life-where once you had it. When one is thrown into the pit of the treatment industry, the devil’s bargain they demand is that you cede control of your life to someone else. Or many someone else’s. Even if you continue to show up for work on time and do your job every day-as the majority of those shoved into the twelve step pit do. And nine times out of ten-that person you are forced to cede control of your life to-is even more fucked up than you ever will be.
And, their view-and the view that they have sold to many in books and TV shows like Dr. Phil , Dr. Drew and the rest of the herd-is that you can never have your life back.
And so-rightfully so- Charlie Sheen is angry as he discovers the magnitude of the sacrifice these hypocrites demand that he make. Eventually-Mr. Sheen will discover that living life on your own terms, without interference from the hordes-is the best revenge you can hope to make. However, until he learns that-his anger will remain unrequited.
And he probably has a right to be angry-but his very public playing out of this drama does not do him any favors. Sometimes-as disgusting as it is-you have to play the game, cooperate and graduate, and bide your time. Certainly every moment he spends on the tour is not doing his downstream prospects any favors. Of course when you are really angry-its hard to see that.
Because now-no matter what he does, no matter what changes he makes in his life-he (and they) will be forever stuck with albatross of the scarlett “A” wrapped around their necks. If he returns to drinking-they will hold the A up in his face. Which is really amazing when you consider a couple of really important statistics:
1) Better than 65% of folks who have difficulties with alcohol or other substances recover on their own. And many, if not most, of them are able to resume drinking, contrary to the orthodoxy put forth in treatment literature.
2) The majority of people shoved into treatment-are not and never will be –“dependent” in the classical definition.
3) The overall success rate of people in 12 step programs is actually worse than those who deal with their issues through other means.
Now mind you-I am not giving Charlie Sheen a pass for any actions that he may have taken that violated the law, his contract, or any other professional obligation. If he in fact broke those-and it appears he did-then he should be punished as required.
But beyond that-it’s his life to live. And eventually he will come to grip with the fact that he-and only he-has to take responsibility for that life. Most people do. Some people don’t. But it is their choice to make.
But that does not make it all right for an employer-or the state-to compel him or anyone else to go to treatment against his will, nor does it give them the right to dictate a particular outcome ( e.g. abstinence) in any particular case. This is especially true with respect to the America’s self-reinforcing cooperation between its traffic courts and its multi-billion dollar treatment industry. Especially since in any given year-barely 15% of those arrested for DUI meet the clinical standards to be qualified as “dependent”-whatever the hell that means.
When individuals become subject to coercive judicial or treatment systems, they are likely to be especially confused, self-doubting, and vulnerable. Great damage can be done at such times times which call for careful assessment and options. ..
Especially when you are forced into a program whose unstated goal is nothing less than religious indoctrination. Isn’t that right Mr. Bill?
Eventually though-I am confident he will find his own path. And it will probably include a drink or two and “goddessess”. I sure hope so.