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Many Find Solace in Charlie Sheen Drama, Expert Contends
Date:3/11/2011

laxington said. "He has us wondering, 'Under enough stress, could I get to that point?' "

Others see Sheen's exploits as signs of serious psychiatric or substance use issues.

"What's pretty clear is something is going on, and it's probably not just the inappropriate acting out of a celebrity," said Jeffrey Parsons, a psychology professor at Hunter College in New York City and an addiction specialist.

"It could be, as some have suggested, an indication of bipolar disorder," said Parsons, citing the uncontrolled commentary, impulsivity, property damage and sexual acting-out attributed to Sheen in news reports.

"Or we could be seeing the long-term effects of substance abuse, which he has talked about," Parsons said. "Although he is testing clean now, it doesn't negate the kind of long-term psychological and brain effects of cocaine abuse."

Bruce Goldman, an addiction specialist at Zucker Hillside Hospital in West Hempstead, N.Y., has similar thoughts.

"When you see irrational behavior, inconsistencies, changes in mood and other symptoms, it could be a symptom of addiction or a serious psychiatric condition -- or both," said Goldman, a licensed social worker.

The first step would be a thorough evaluation, he said.

Because Sheen has reportedly denied any emotional or substance problems, getting him into treatment could be difficult, Parsons said. Someone with that apparent degree of denial and resistance "will need therapy to build trust and meet him where he is," he noted.

"A confrontational approach would be ineffective," Parsons added.

As Sheen's list of reported indiscretions mounts, it could be an eye-opener for him, Parsons said, adding that "a good therapist could use this as a potential way to get in."

The sooner treatment begins, the better the prognosis, Goldman said. "By the time someone reaches rock bottom, the disease is in a more progressed state and intervention is more difficult.
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