The Today Show recently did a spot on the trend of celebrities checking into fancy rehab centers to “cure addictions” (Watch: Is detox the new vacation?). They discussed the good and bad of publicizing addiction treatment essentially as a vacation. Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan’s recent stints with rehab have been well documented in the media. And you’ve probably heard about the lavish amenities that come with celebrity rehab – spas, acupuncture, private tennis lessons, gourmet chefs, etc.
It was noted that one of the reasons the rehab centers were so luxurious was to lure the celebrities into treatment. It was also noted that going to rehab for a month was often used as a public relations stunt so the public could see that their favorite troubled star was getting some sort of help for their erratic behavior.
What does this kind of publicity do to the idea of rehabilitating from an active addiction?
Publicizing such moves by celebrities may have a positive effect by putting the topic of addiction into the limelight. It works to erase some of the stigma that people put onto those that are struggling with addiction. However, how will the public get the message that recovering from an addiction is hard work when they see the stars retreat to for a month to a lavish center and reportedly come back “fully recovered?”
Addiction is a life-long disease that the recovering individual, no matter what kind of treatment they’ve had, has to actively work on. Says Dr. Keith Ablow, the psychiatrist Ann Curry interviewed in the spot, “Look for something that hurts a little bit.” In the end, addicts have to face the things that hurt and drove them to their addiction before they can start to recover.