Celebrities like actress Lindsay Lohan and pop star Britney Spears are making a mockery of rehabilitation programs by appearing not to take treatment seriously, U.S. addiction experts warned.
Lohan was arrested Tuesday on a second drunken-driving charge just days after leaving her second stint in rehab flaunting an alcohol-monitoring ankle bracelet at nightclubs.
Spears twice spent less than a day in rehab before entering a third time for a month after behaving erratically.
"It is making a mockery of rehabs," said Harris Stratyner, a psychologist with Caron, a non-profit addiction treatment organization.
"In some ways it's starting to make rehabs look like a joke and that's very sad because hundreds of thousands of people a year are saved."
Lohan, 21, spent a month in rehab in January. But after crashing her car May 26, she checked in for another six weeks of treatment at another centre. She was charged last week with drunken driving in relation to that accident.
Hours after Tuesday's arrest, Lohan's lawyer said she had suffered a relapse and was "presently receiving medical care."
In February, Spears checked into rehab -- for the third time in a week -- where she spent the minimum 30 days after a spree of high-profile partying and unusual behavior such as shaving off her hair.
Upon finishing treatment, the 25-year-old singer completed her divorce from dancer and aspiring rapper Kevin Federline.
To avoid relapsing, rehab patients are advised to stay away from "high-risk" situations, including people who could put direct or subtle pressure on them and places where it is easy to obtain drugs or alcohol. They are also told to reduce the stress in their lives and engage in healthy activities.
Most treatment centres also recommend they attend a 12-step recovery program meeting every day for the first month after leaving rehab and then go regularly to such meetings.
Jon Morgenstern, of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, said it was not uncommon for people to need several rounds of treatment but that those "waltzing" in and out of rehab for short periods could be perceived as not taking their problem seriously.source: Michelle Nichols, Reuters