In 2008, Charlie Sheen was the highest paid actor on television (People Magazine, 2016). His career in movies was already strong having starred in major motion pictures such as Platoon, Wall Street, and Major League. At the time, he was the star of the hit comedy Two and a Half Men. Yet, in 2011 Charlie Sheen had a major mental breakdown. But long before Charlie Sheen ended his role on Two and a Half Men, he had several addictions. Featured in this project is an exploration of Charlie Sheen’s alcohol and drug addictions, as well as his rehab attempts.
In 1998, Charlie Sheen suffered a stroke that was caused from a cocaine overdosed (People Magazine, 2016). Sheen was discovered in his house by paramedics who had to revive Sheen before taking the actor to a local hospital to have his stomach pumped. After leaving the hospital, Sheen was transported to a local rehab center despite Sheen’s pleas to be released immediately. In fact, Sheen would quickly try to exit the rehab clinic and had to be forced back by the local authorities. Sheen pled guilty to drug charges and was release on parole, but later that year violated the terms of his parole. Sheen was forced back into rehab under the conditions of his parole violation. Years later Sheen admitted that his overdose was the result of excessive cocaine use.
Sheen was arrested in 2009 for assaulting his wife (People Magazine, 2016). Sheen pled guilty to misdemeanor assault and was required to complete 30 days in a drug rehab facility. In 1020, Sheen was arrested for disorderly conduct and the destruction of property at a New York hotel. Sheen admitted to heavy drinking and using cocaine that night. On many other occasions between 1998 and today, Sheen has had violent outburst and, at time, incomprehensive speech, likely due to years of drug and alcohol abuse. While Sheen has entered rehab for drug and alcohol abuse on multiple occasions, he rarely did so voluntarily.
There are a number of environmental factors that may have contributed to Sheen’s seemingly constant addiction to drugs and alcohol. One of the primary environmental factors is that Charlie Sheen had access to a large amount of money at a very young age. This, combined with a lack of parental supervision, may have created conditions favorable for Charlie Sheen to experiment with drugs and alcohol at an early age. Charlie’s father Martin Sheen is also a famous actor who have accumulated a significant amount of wealth while Charlie was young (Lawler, 2010). In an interview, Charlie Sheen admitted that he used his father’s credit card to purchase drugs and alcohol at the age of 15 and prostitutes at the age of 17 (People Magazine, 2016). Charlie also stated that his father travelled frequently when Charlie was young. Addictions to alcohol and drugs early in life significantly increase the chance for relapse later in life if the addictions are not caught and addressed early (Wise & Koob, 2014).
Charlie Sheen also played in a number of film and television roles that may have reinforced his behaviors. This can be considered a professional or social factor that may have contributed to Charlie Sheen frequently being required to enter a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center. For example, Sheen starred in Wall Street in which his character frequently consumed alcohol and occasionally consumed drugs like cocaine. More recently, Sheen starred in Two and a Half Men in which he played an alcohol, drug-using playboy who frequently engaged in risky promiscuous sexual encounters. The libertine lifestyle that he portrayed in Two and a Half Men may have served as reinforcement to Sheen’s addictive behavior.
The physical toll that the years of alcohol and drug abuse have taken on Sheen is apparent. Almost two decades ago Sheen suffered a stroke because of his drug and alcohol abuse. In the video interview given by Sheen in the past decade, there has been a noticeable change in his appearance. Sheen can no longer stay still and his speech is erratic at times (People Magazine, 2016). Psychologically the toll may be even worse. Sheen has been in and out of relationships and marriages for more than a decade. At times he appears manic, while at other times he appears exhausted and depressed. Alcohol and drug additions have been shown to increase one’s chances for mental illness including bipolar disorder and depression (Wise & Koob, 2014). Charlie’s most recent revelation that he has HIV (Ayers et al., 2016) may be indirectly linked to his alcohol and drug abuse.
Although Sheen has entered rehabilitation programs on multiple occasions, he clearly has not received the help that he needs. Sheen needs a long-term solution. In most cases, group therapy is beneficial in helping drug and alcohol addicts continue sobriety even after rehab. However, in Sheen’s case, it may be difficult to find a good therapy group, given that he is a well-known actor and has a long history now of drug and alcohol abuse. Also, the media follows Sheen wherever he goes, making it all but impossible for Sheen to enter a program anonymously or without drawing crowds. Perhaps a more philosophical approach would be beneficial for Sheen. For example, a humanist-based approach such as positive psychology may can help him manage his addictions long-term, rather than relying simply on the occasional trip to the rehabilitation center for short-term treatment. As Sheen continues to garner heavy media attention, he needs to find a quality long-term treatment that will keep him from being distracted and remain committed to staying sober.