The one aspect of the Sheen situation that everyone has been talking about while simultaneously not talking about it, is the claim that he has “cured” himself of addiction*. Everyone has reported this claim, and then immediately dismissed it as the rantings of a crazy person. No one in the major media has really cared to report about this honestly – that is, they haven’t been willing to practice real journalism and determine whether “recovery” without treatment or 12-step programs is actually a real phenomenon.
Well, it is a real phenomenon. The vast majority of people with substance use problems (about 75%) change their habits without ever attending a treatment program or a single 12-step meeting. But of course, most people won’t tell you that because they tow the line for the recovery culture – also, they couldn’t smear Sheen quite so much if they acknowledged this fact.
The article reports some facts well known to some of my readers – namely that 60-80% of those who abuse substances in their teens and twenties quit by age 30, and that 90% of Vietnam vets with heroin dependence quit without treatment. Check out the article at Scientific American, it also includes a great interview with Sally Satel.
* I avoid the term “cure” because it presupposes the existence of a disease, but use it only as a quote here. Also, I’m not fond of the term “recovery” for the same reasons, I just use it here for the benefit of new readers.