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Is It a Good Thing When Both Parents Are in Rehab?

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Charlie Sheen and Brooke Mueller, parents of infant twins, are both in rehab. An addiction specialist says this is a positive step.

charlie sheen and brooke mueller

Jennifer Ginsberg: Charlie Sheen has entered an addiction treatment facility, following speculation he was drinking again. "As a preventative measure, Charlie Sheen has entered a rehabilitation facility. He will take some time off his series 'Two and a Half Men,'" Sheen's representative said in a statement. Sheen's wife, Brooke Mueller, is also in rehab, where she can be visited by the couple's 11-month-old twins who are reportedly under the care of a nanny, Charlie's parents, and Brooke's mother.

The fact that both Brooke and Charlie have taken the steps to both admit they have a problem and seek help for their addictions speaks highly to the future of their relationship and their children.

One of the biggest concerns when an addict enters treatment is that once they are discharged, they will return home to a partner who is still drinking and using drugs, and their chances of maintaining sobriety is greatly diminished. In order to develop and maintain a healthy environment for their children, both Brooke and Charlie need to make sobriety their number one priority.

In my experience as a clinician in treatment centers, I have seen many people relapse after a period of sobriety because their partner began drinking or using again. This is especially true if the addict hasn't yet adequately dealt with the issues that led to his or her addiction, or is under extreme stress.

It's not surprising that both Brooke and Charlie relapsed during the first year of their children's lives. While many people would find it unthinkable that caring parents of infant children would drink or use drugs, it is all too common in the world of a recovering addict.

The post-partum period is a time of incredible stress. Caring for twins is exponentially difficult for new parents. The combination of exhaustion and tension can take a toll on a healthy relationship, let alone a marriage that is already fraught with complications.

If one or both partners is a recovering addict, they are particularly vulnerable to relapse. The fact that both Brooke and Charlie have begun drinking and using again is not surprising, however, they must take responsibility for their relapse and work diligently to stay sober. Children deserve sober parents, and if they are unable to achieve and maintain sobriety, then they are best cared for by someone else.

It is especially important that Brooke and Charlie have the time and space to focus on addressing the issues that led to their relapse and work on healing themselves before they attempt to heal their marriage. I am happy to hear that their children are able to visit them in rehab, as long as these visits don't cause too much stress or serve as a distraction.

Many couples don't have the financial resources or child care available to enter treatment simultaneously. However, it is still crucial for both partners to get sober for the sake of their children. In such a circumstance where only one person in the relationship can enter the treatment, the other person can attend 12-step meetings (which are very beneficial, readily available, and free) or an outpatient program if possible. The bottom line: if an alcoholic or addict is willing to get sober, then they must make it their number one priority, even if that means cutting back on personal or professional responsibilities for awhile. While inpatient treatment is often helpful for the alcoholic or addict to achieve sobriety, it isn't by any means mandatory. There are many people who get sober without entering an inpatient treatment center simply by attending 12-step meetings or other support groups and therapy.

While addiction is often characterized as an illness marked by relapse, it is my hope that both Brooke and Charlie have now hit their respective bottoms and will make sobriety their number-one priority. If a recovering addict is always mindful of their addiction and does not fall prey to the illusion that one day they can manage and control their drinking and using, long-term sobriety can be achieved.

They must remember that without being clean and sober, they have nothing. It is also my hope that other alcoholics and addicts out there realize that you don't have to be a celebrity to seek help, and will do whatever it takes to get clean and sober.

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2 comments so far | Post a comment now
DeniseRichards February 24, 2010, 7:42 PM

They can go on the next Celebrity Rehab together.

Heather February 24, 2010, 10:35 PM

Good points here; it’s true that people often reinforce each other in terms of good habits as well as bad ones. As Ms. Ginsberg points out, this couple can support each other—that’s awesome! A clear-headed analysis from Ms. Ginsberg, who by the way appeared tonight on “Extra!”

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