I know Charlie Sheen. I've never met him, and I don't wish to. But I know who he is and how he feels. He is no super-star and he is not unique. He is merely a typical addict/alcoholic.
Charlie Sheen's continuing public meltdowns come as no surprise to anyone who has ever attended an Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous meeting. His drug induced behavior is the norm for millions who struggle daily with substance abuse. Some give in to it, as Sheen has, and others manage, for a day at a time, to remain clean and sober.
Make no mistake, drugs and booze offer an enticing alternative to harsh reality. When one is under the influence, reality becomes whatever you want it to be. The capacity for self-delusion is unequaled, at least till it's time for another fix or drink. For most substance abusers, this imagined reality must be maintained at any cost. Hey, who wants to admit to needing a crutch? Better to redefine reality to a less judgmental interpretation.
Science has not yet determined whether alcoholism or drug addiction is genetically determined. No-one has figured out why one person can have just one drink while another must continue drinking well past the drunken stage. There are, however, certain common patterns of behavior that remain exclusive to substance abusers. And Charlie Sheen exhibits them all.
Denial: The stock-in-trade of drunks who have not yet lost everything. To acknowledge a problem means having to deal with it. And taking a pill or drink instantly banishes that annoying intrusion of reality. Until the day it doesn't.
Grandiosity: Anyone who has seen Sheen's recent appearances on TV should be able to recognize his increasing disconnect from reality.
Because Sheen has mucho bucks and an entourage of enabling sycophants, it is unlikely that he will beat his addiction. He will continue to insist his version of reality is the correct one and will continue to willfully ignore the myriad warning signs that are so obvious to the unimpaired.
Charlie Sheen is a pathetic drunk. The only thing that separates him from the gutter is his money. He is not unique. He is a typical substance abuser, just like the homeless drunks you see in the inner city. The only difference is, Charlie isn't homeless. And despite his insistence on redefining reality to his specifications, there are certain realities he can't change. Namely:
Alcoholism is a progressive disease. There comes a point when ever larger quantities of drugs or booze are required to maintain the illusion of euphoria. Soon the drugs cease to produce a high and instead result in severe depression and the inability to reason logically. Many drunks hit their bottom when this happens. Many die. A lucky few are forced to start the rough road to recovery.
Another reality Sheen can't change is the fact that when drunks and users are under the influence, they don't mature normally. If a drunk started drinking at age 17, the emotional and social maturity remains at 17 years old. Sheen's show, "Two and a Half Men," is appropriately titled. Sheen is half a man -- lacking the behavioral maturity that normally comes with age.
Charlie Sheen is one of the unlucky ones, like Anna Nicole, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, and many other stars. He has the means to indulge his addiction and the money to enable him to continue to escape the consequences of his destructive behavior. So far.
Charlie has publicly stated that being sober is boring. It appears he does not have the will or desire to change his behavior. I doubt Charlie has the fortitude or character to ever admit he is just a typical addict, which is the one essential step on the road to recovery. I predict that when Charlie hits bottom, and he will, he will not be able to bounce back.
Rasmussen just published a poll showing that 71% have an unfavorable impression of the "Two and a Half Men" star. But that doesn't keep Americans from eagerly watching his life become a train wreck. Sheen's oh so public appearances titillate those that need someone to feel better than. Sheen interprets the interest as support. I'm embarrassed for him. Like all of those who live their lives under the influence, the day is coming when Charlie will hit his bottom. He will self-destruct and finally have to make a choice that all addicts are eventually forced to make. Death or sobriety. Personally, I think he has already decided.
Nancy Morgan is a columnist and news editor for conservative news site RightBias.com
She lives in South Carolina.