British pop singer Amy Winehouse wasn't kidding when she released that single your grandchild's incessantly singing — called, what else, "Rehab" — earlier this year. Just months after the U.S. debut of the song, in which the soulstress belts, "They tried to make me go to rehab / I said no, no, no," Winehouse has been in and out of rehab facilities for alleged alcohol and drug abuse.
She's not the only teen idol to fall from grace. They've been flocking to rehab in droves. The story goes something like this: Celeb abuses drugs or alcohol. Celeb engages in crazy stunt (you know, stealing a white GMC or shaving head in front of paparazzi). Celeb hits rock bottom. Celeb enters rehab. Celeb quits rehab. Celeb repeats cycle.
Lindsay Lohan, Nicole Richie, Britney Spears all fit the mold. Each had the potential to be a teen role model. Now their rehab stints make up the don't-let-this-happen-to-you sob stories sprawled across Page Six.
Celebs in rehab are nothing new. But, the Internet makes people — especially your teenage grandchildren – more aware, says Annie Fox, teen expert and author of Too Stressed to Think? A Teen Guide to Staying Sane When Life Makes You Crazy (Free Spirit Publishing). "With the Internet, it's harder to keep it quiet. People's personal problems – especially if you live in the limelight — are just broadcast all over the place," she says.
The Day Rehab Became Hip
Worse than keeping kids up-to-date on celebrities' rehab escapades, says Fox, the exposure is making rehab seem...cool. "When the media shows images or footage of these places, they look like resorts. And, when you've got people like Lindsay Lohan going, there's an added cool factor."
Winehouse reportedly stayed at the Causeway Village, "a private and tranquil haven," according to its Web site. Guests stay in apartments or cottages "set in beautiful rural surroundings." While combating a substance-abuse problem at Causeway, one can garden, or sail. The Promises Treatment Center, where Britney Spears reportedly battled her alcohol demons, boasts "a gorgeous panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean."
This sends teens the message that it's okay to be irresponsible because rehab offers a quick fix, says Dr. Mark Menestrina, a physician at Brighton Hospital, a Michigan-based inpatient rehab treatment center. But Menestrina – a former addict who's treated more than 20,000 alcoholics and drug abusers – says kicking bad habits is far from easy.
What You Can Do
Try using pop culture to teach your grandchildren about addiction. "Take it right off the front page and put it into everyday life," says Robin Goodman, Ph.D., director of A Caring Hand Bereavement Center in New York City.
"Ask your grandkids candidly what they think about drug and alcohol addiction, and rehab," she continues. A good opener might be: "I see pop stars going to rehab on the front page a lot. What do you know about all that?"
Goodman also suggests role-playing with your grandchildren. "A lot of this is helping them learn how to handle those tough situations. Talk through it with them."
How well do you get along with your grandchild and other family members? Want to know if your personalities mesh?Find out here.