What’s the Deal with Charlie Sheen?

by | Apr 26, 2011

We all know that Charlie Sheen\’s recent behavior has caused quite a stir. Everyone is questioning whether he\’s still addicted to drugs and denying it, or if he\’s possibly bipolar. Whether he is using or withdrawing from drugs or bipolar, the symptoms can be very similar and the experts are having difficulty diagnosing Sheen from afar.

After threatening legal action against his employers, CBS cancelled production of Two and a Half Men. His ex-wife, Brooke Mueller has gained full custody of their two-year-old twins after he bragged about his former drug abuse. Along with the resignation of his longtime manager and his grandiose, superior attitude, it\’s easy to see what has people wondering. (“I have a different constitution. I have a different brain; I have a different heart; I got tiger blood, man.”) Read more:

In both addiction and mental illness, confrontation often leads to denial, even in one who would admit to either problem under non-confrontational circumstances.

Although grandiose behavior can be a sign of drug abuse, it also may point toward the mania/hypomania of bipolar disease. Sheen\’s narcissistic and hyper verbal tendencies over the last several weeks, along with his anger can also be symptoms of both mania and drug abuse. All diagnoses aside, the situation of his custody battles and getting fired alone could make anyone irritable or angry.

Drugs or withdrawal? Once a person stops using drugs, extreme mood swings and erratic behavior can be seen, making any psychiatric diagnosis difficult to impossible. Occasionally, both of these problems of drugs/withdrawal may be seen simultaneously.

Bipolar disease is defined as alternating periods of elevated or irritable mood (mania) with periods of depression. Bipolar is subdivided into bipolar I and II, and mania/hypomania. The mood swings are often very dramatic and potentially violent, cycling between extreme euphoria and deep depression, although milder forms of the disease carry less extreme behaviors. Cocaine use/abuse and other chronic drug abuse problems can mimic manic-like behavior. Heavy and regular drug use can warp peoples\’ world views. Then, when facing the results of their actions, they become defensive, attempt retaliation and refuse to accept blame.

Additionally, psychiatric problems occur more frequently in people with addiction problems as well. Illegal drugs and alcohol give a false sense of coping. Self-medicating is a frequent “treatment” of people with a psychiatric disorder.

Sheen\’s recent behavior, despite his negative drug tests, may indicate continuing or resurgent drug use. Even so, a mental health issue cannot be discounted. He may even be suffering from a combination of drug use or withdrawal and bipolar disorder, combined. Withdrawal from other drugs and alcohol can sometimes produce a manic state; the side effects of other, even legitimate, drugs or even some medical conditions, non drug-related, can produce the symptoms and erratic behavior we have seen from Charlie Sheen. Even if none of the above is true, we\’ll still speculate with what\’s really up with this actor. His “Torpedo of Truth” tour has added more dates despite bad reviews because folks still want to experience the real-time Charlie Sheen package. It\’s easy to see how our fascination with celebrity has created “Tiger Blood” Sheen.


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