Robin Williams’ $25K Relapse Prevention
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Robin Williams’ $25K Relapse Prevention


When I first read the headline that recovering addict Robin Williams had checked himself into rehab—not because of a relapse but to prevent a relapse—I mentally rolled my eyes. No one actually goes to rehab for that reason. In fact, it sounds just like what a publicist who doesn’t know jack shit about addiction would come up with as a cover story. We don’t have to admit the client has relapsed, the thinking would surely go. We can just claim this is a preventative move! None of this is, of course, for me to say. But here’s what I can say: if this is a lie, it sure beats the hell out of the old “exhaustion” or “dehydration” excuse.

Checking In to Check Out

Still, as I furiously tapped the “end call” button after a highly intense conversation with AT&T about why they keep charging me for a DSL service I no longer have, I reflected on all the countless times in sobriety I wished I could take a vacation. Not just to some tropical island where I would be served virgin pina coladas by genetically superior black men, but to a mental health refuge—the kind of place where they do group therapy and colonics. Because having alcoholism is exhausting sometimes. When “the committee”—the broken record of negative self-talk in my head—starts obsessing about how I am a fatally flawed and worthless human who deserves nothing and hence has nothing, it doesn’t matter how dreamy my surroundings are (a beach, a mountain top, having sex with my married neighbor); all I am focused on is how much I hate myself and how I need to check out and check in to a place that can treat that. But since I don’t have the financial perks of Robin Williams’ career, or even a real job, I’m usually left with no choice but to just call my sponsor and hit a meeting.

What is slightly confusing in terms of the vacation fantasy is that Williams chose Hazelden for his relapse prevention vaca. A fine, no-frills treatment center isn’t the luxurious oasis I would expect a celebrity merely looking to get back in touch with his serenity would be drawn towards. Sure, Minnesota isn’t offering up its sub-zero temperature at this time of the year but Christ, it’s still Minnesota. I mean, if Williams just needs to get reconnected, why not do that while listening to the crashing coastal waves of the Pacific Ocean?

Admitting Envy

As strange as it may be, I am not judging Robin Williams. The truth is, I am jealous of him. Not just because he “made it” in my chosen profession and I just paid for a Carmel Macchiato with mostly nickels, but also because he has the luxury of pampering his illness. And I don’t mean that in a condescending way—addiction is like an ornery child that will drive you nuts without help. So rich people hire a nanny and poor people take Vicodin and lucky people hire a nanny and take Vicodin. Sober people say the Serenity Prayer, call their sponsor and get to a meeting.

Or they buy themselves $25K worth of rehab.

Photo Courtesy of U.S. Marines Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Luis P. Valdespino, Jr. (released) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons (resized and cropped)

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About Author

Danielle Stewart is a Los Angeles-based writer and recovering comedian. She has written for Showtime, E!, and MTV, as well as print publications such as Us Weekly and Life & Style Magazine. She returned to school and is currently working her way towards a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. She loves coffee, Law & Order SVU, and her emotional support dog, Benson.