Thingish Things

The Thing About Charlie Sheen

Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - Feb• 15•11

Charlie Sheen is giving us all something to talk about these days, but watching a talented 45-year-old playing chicken with death shouldn’t be considered entertainment, however sensational the antics.

Sheen appears to be a classic addict.  All the world can see he has a substance abuse problem, but he cannot. No matter how many hospital visits and rehab centers he enters and exits; no matter how many tabloid headline inches he owns, it’s the world that’s the problem, not him.

Sheen’s behavior defies all reason. But it probably makes perfect sense to him.

A couple of years back I watched an excruciating scene on a reality TV show on addiction I stumbled across on Channel 8- or 900. A man, well over 750 pounds and bedridden, was desperately explaining to a doctor working to save him at a clinic for obesity disorder that he did not have a problem.  That, after the doctor discovered a trove of chocolate bars hidden in the patient’s body folds.

The man was an immediately likable figure, a gentle giant, who had checked himself into the clinic after years of struggling with addiction, but he didn’t have a problem once he got there. He was as desperate to hold onto those candy bars as he was to explain them away. You could see the panic in his eyes.

The next day, he died. It was one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen on television.

It’s hard to avoid the Sheen story — or any story featuring celebrities in trouble. Turn on a television or open a newspaper and there they are: “Busted! Exposed! Out of Control!”

You can’t blame the media, though. With the public, indeed, publicized lives actors, singers, politicians, etc. choose to live, public blow-ups arguably are fair game. But I do have one gripe with the coverage, and I think a legitimate one: The people selected to comment in these stories should be experts on addiction, not celebrity wags. That might make coverage a bit less entertaining, but a whole lot more instructive.

I don’t sympathize with Charlie Sheen. I empathize with him, because I’ve been there. One can only pray he finds the clarity his dad and so many others have.

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  1. Me says:

    Nicely put, Mr. O’Reilly!

  2. liz feld says:

    Charlie Sheen’s behavior is neither “news” nor “entertainment.” It’s a cry for help from an addict. These things (almost) never have a happy ending and, in this case, the press will bear plenty of responsibility for feeding the addict if things go even further south.
    There are plenty of good stories out there, so let’s leave Lindsey Lohan and Charlie Sheen for the courts and rehab to handle.

  3. Pugsley says:

    so true…well said. Said part is how many other lives he is affecting…the canceling of episodes affects a production assistant that makes $75,000 a lot more than it affects Charlie and his millions.

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