I can’t help but wonder what kind of effect Charlie Sheen and the thankfully waning media fascination with him has had on teenagers.
Many adults see right through him, the sickness, the delusions, a man whose death spiral is seemingly in a holding pattern thanks to some memorable one-liners.
And what of shows like “Intervention” or “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew”? Is it mere entertainment to them? Is it like looking into the monkey cage at the zoo, where the animals seem to be throwing crap at each other 24/7 rather than having any relationship with what it means to live in the real world?
This is not another Charlie Sheen piece, so hopefully you haven’t stopped reading. He’s just not very funny to those who have been there, done that. Insanity in the midst of addiction is not fun; it’s frightening and feels all-consuming.
I wonder about today’s teens because I seriously don’t remember such public displays of human disaster when I was a kid. These types of shows didn’t exist. Charlie Sheen, the concept, was not out there for the world to see.
I’m almost two decades removed from my teenage years, and I’m starting to forget what it was like. The memories have started to get a bit hazy.
When I got drunk for the first time at 12 years old, when I had my first blackout at 14 or 15 (with dozens more to come), when I began to binge drink three to four times a week by my junior year, I didn’t give one thought to the fact that more than 20 years later I would end up in a treatment center for a month and be in recovery for the rest of my life.
I didn’t fathom that I would have to stay away from people I would consider my brothers, closest friends and confidants, because to be with them was too much of a temptation to slip, not just to slip up with a drink but slip into an old destructive way of thinking, living and obsessing; my issue, not theirs.
To know that choices I made at such a young age would haunt me the rest of my life was inconceivable.
I wonder how inconceivable that is to the teenagers who think powering through five or more drinks nearly every day isn’t a big deal. Last year more than 2,500 teens between grades 9 and 12 were polled on their attitudes toward drugs and alcohol, the results of which were released Wednesday by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America.
Some 45 percent of those teens feel this way, according to the study.
Certainly not every teenager who thinks binge-drinking is harmless is barreling toward alcoholism. But some of them will surely get there, and they’ll wake up one day and wonder what happened.
It’s hard to say where teens’ attitudes toward heavy partying is heading, but the study characterized the situation as worsening.
I’m not sure how the school districts handle education on drug and alcohol use and addiction now, but it wasn’t handled very well when I was of that age. Even if it was, I don’t know that I would have listened, understood or even cared.
Teens today need some real faces of addiction, not even the worst cases of it, but some that are close to home. I would have laughed with Charlie Sheen and laughed at Dr. Drew and the TV train wrecks on “Intervention.”
I’m not sure how I would have reacted to the guy next door or from down the street, but it certainly would have been more real, even downright scary.