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Baptized by Rehab: When Saving Face Trumps Saving Lives

By Courtney Enlow | Think Pieces | January 24, 2014 |

By Courtney Enlow | Think Pieces | January 24, 2014 |

Well, as you may have heard, Justin Bieber got arrested for drag racing and drunk driving and it’s the most important news in the history of existence. According to nearly every news item touting information from “a source,” Bieber’s people say he needs “help” and want him to go to rehab.

I have…feelings.

On one hand, yes, Bieber needs help. And by help I mean to live his life over again raised by parents who send him to his room and ground him and this time without millions of dollars. He also needs help with his delusions of baby grandeur.


Ugh. He sucks. But, is he sick? Does he need rehab?

Based solely upon that which we know, the knowledge to which we are privy, I mean, no. He doesn’t seem sick at all. He seems like an asshole. And, if you’re keeping score, rehab doesn’t work for being an asshole.

Inpatient rehab is one of the most wonderful things in the world. It is an absolute lifesaver—not just for those who check in, but for the families whose lives are changed because the person they love has made the decision to get help with their addictions and whatever other mental illness co-exists with it. As one of those family members, it’s the best thing that ever happened to me—without it, I wouldn’t have my husband. We wouldn’t have our child. I’m grateful every single day for what that treatment center and all the others like it did to change us. To save us.

You know what it doesn’t do? Make a dickbag asshat of a human more palatable to the masses. That’s not what rehab is for. It’s not a reform school. It’s not a charm school. And to use the idea of rehabilitation as a face-saving device is not only offensive to the goals of these treatment centers, but to those suffering from mental illness everywhere.

No-hearted public apologies are no longer enough. Management teams know they need to make it stick if they want to keep making that money. So, rehab. Send your problem client off to lounge by the pool and do yoga for a month and let people forget what went wrong. It’s the perfect solution. Whether it’s for a problem partier, a vocal racist or homophobe, or a cheating husband, rehab! The duct tape of celebrity!

When Miley Cyrus first started “acting out” and grinding up on your wrecking balls and your Robin Thickes, rehab talk and the need for “help” was thrown around then, too. And at its heart, what she needed help for was being less than ladylike, not acting the way people want her to. And that’s what is happening with Bieber, too. Only he’s actually got the potential to injure someone. So, throw him in jail. Take away his license. Send him to Nova Scotia and make him do work release on a deep-sea trouting boat, eh? But rehab will not help him. At best, it will give us a month off from him. At worst, it will impede the treatment of the actual sick people in that facility (I’m sure actual addicts go to Promises, too, not just celebrity buttholes).

Rehab exists to help those who need it. And, unless I’m wrong, Bieber doesn’t need it. He needs someone to tell him “no.”

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