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Rehab's Role in Treating Addiction

Experts explain the treatment process at rehab clinics -- for celebrities and for regular folks.

High Cost of Treatment

Treatment at Sierra Tucson -- which has treated Ringo Starr, Michael Douglas, and Mark Foley -- costs about $1,200 a day. There's a pool, spa, gym, climbing wall, and even equestrian stables. But Sierra Tucson isn't just a retreat, says Scott; patients spend most of their waking hours in "emotionally draining" recovery activities. "We treat them intensively, and they do well."

Other, simpler inpatient facilities charge lower rates. The RightStep chain, based in Houston, charges $8,500 for a one-month inpatient stay, and says it has "preferred agreements" with many major insurers. (Intensive outpatient treatment costs $3,000).

How to find a good clinic? Ask your doctor or friends, suggests Berger. Look for a clinic that is staffed with addiction-certified counselors and medical staff, says Galusha. And look for a clinic with medical staff that can treat the psychiatric problems that so often accompany substance abuse, says Gordon. That usually means access to psychiatrists as well as counselors, he says.

Treating the High-Profile Ego

Maybe celebrities and others in the public spotlight can afford fancy clinics. But they also face special challenges when it comes to getting clean and sober, say the experts who treat them regularly.

Celebrities and other high-profile people are surrounded by "groups of people who have a vested interest in their success," says Scott. A lot is at stake, whether it's a political campaign, a concert tour, or a movie production. So not everyone in the entourage may be so accepting when an addict needs to take time out for group therapy or to stay away from events where liquor is served.

Successful people with large egos are especially difficult to treat, Scott says. "They have accomplished so much in their lives, so they cannot believe they can't [kick the habit] themselves," Scott says.

O'Connor treats a lot of high-flying professionals in addition to the occasional celebrity. Doctors, pilots, and the like are expected to be high achievers, O'Connor says, and addicts in these professions have developed a matching ability to deny and rationalize their abuse. So it is especially difficult for these people to admit that they have let people down because of their addiction. "An enormous cistern of grief accompanies them into the center," O'Connor says. "What we really treat is the shame of it all."

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Reviewed on November 30, 2006

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