Criminal Law

I Can Fix It: Who and How Does Rehab Help?

Making mistakes and poor decisions are part of being human and imperfect. Unlike many things in life, it's practically guaranteed we'll all do something that we'll later wish for a do-over because it led to family problems or even legal troubles.

Rehabilitation treatment ("rehab") is a current trend for celebrities and some facing legal issues to make amends and better themselves. Sometimes it's used for less honorable purposes, like ducking the limelight, or shifting blame for a criminal act.

Whether it works for you depends on your motivation and goals for seeking treatment.

Why They Sought Treatment

Celebrities and other high-profile individuals often go through rehab after making poor decisions, often ones that threaten their careers or pose criminal penalties. For example:

Why Enter Rehab?

The only person who can answer the question is the person who actually makes the choice to enter rehab. In the high-profile examples above, it seems pretty clear that rehab was selected as a ploy - a damage control tactic:

  • Weiner says he wants rehab to help him be a better husband and overall person. But, it also helps him avoid the limelight at a time when he's facing calls for his resignation and the collapse of his political career
  • Clearly, Lohan entered rehab with the hopes of getting a light sentence for the probation violation
  • Tiger was almost certainly concerned about the loss of his marriage and millions of dollars in endorsements, which could hinge on morals' clauses in his contracts

It's for the Not-So-Famous, Too

Everyday people use rehab, too. For example, an unfaithful spouse may seek therapy or treatment to save the marriage. Also, it's not uncommon for courts to sentence people convicted on drug- or alcohol-related crimes to undergo rehab. Like Lohan's case, it could be part of probation, or part of a larger sentence.

Anyone faced with potential jail time or other criminal sanctions may use rehab as damage control, too. For example, someone charged with a domestic violence offense may voluntarily enter rehab or treatment. It may convince a judge or jury that the accused isn't a violent person, wants to learn from the mistake and avoid repeating it.

Does Rehab "Work?"

Again, the answer depends on the person, but it also depends on the goal.

Damage Control

So, if your only goal is to salvage career or financial well-being, or to get a judge to go easy at sentencing you for a crime, rehab works if you actually get it. It does work, but you have to be careful.

Lohan's antics before, during and her after her voluntary commitment to rehab led to a second, court-ordered rehab stint. Ultimately, her probation was revoked and she faced other criminal charges. Damage uncontrolled!

And rest assured, not every person facing criminal charges gets off the hook or a lighter sentence by voluntarily entering rehab. Judges and juries aren't gullible and know how to measure a person's character.

Personal Goals

Goals like becoming a better spouse, family member or human being are very personal. It takes more motivation and effort than the damage control ploy. With hard work and the right rehabilitation treatment, though, there's no reason why rehab can't work in these situations, too.

Deciding If Rehab Is Right For You

Rehab may or may not be the answer to your particular problem. Here are some things to help you make the decision and the best of the treatment if you choose to go that route:

  • Figure out what your goals are and if rehab can help you reach them
  • Talk to an attorney to see if rehab will help you avoid legal trouble, if that's part of your goal, and if the overall effect is going to be worth it
  • Can you afford it? Lohan and Tiger have the money to pay; US taxpayers are paying for Weiner. Check to see if your health insurance covers rehab

Making the Most of It

You get out of rehab what you put into it, so your goals dictate how to make rehab work for you:

  • Don't engage in the conduct or activity you're in rehab for while you're in rehab, especially if it's court-ordered rehab or probation. It could lead to even more legal woes
  • Show up! A court may revoke probation for not showing up for or completing rehab or order more rehab
  • Work at achieving your goal. Show up and behave if you're waiting for the storm to blow over; try your best to learn how to be a better person

It's easy to be cynical when you hear about someone - usually a celeb - entering rehab. Not everyone entering rehab is trying to pull the wool over the public's eyes, though. There are legitimate and healthy reasons to look into rehab, too. If it's done properly, it can help anyone reach their goals.

Questions for Your Attorney

  • Will only criminal charges be dismissed if I go to rehab?
  • Can I take FMLA time to enter rehab?
  • Can I be fired from my job for voluntarily entering rehab, even if my sessions don't interfere with my work schedule?
Have a criminal law question?
Get answers from local attorneys.
It's free and easy.
Ask a Lawyer

Get Professional Help

Find a Criminal Law lawyer
Practice Area:
Zip Code:
How It Works
  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Connect with local attorneys

Talk to an attorney

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you