Addiction expert reveals what life in treatment center is like for politicians

Rehab clinic founder Dr. Morteza Khaleghi says he thinks a lawmaker might have a tougher time in a treatment facility than an average Joe, saying it’s more difficult for politicians.

“Because of their obligations, responsibilities, reputation,” he said. “With anything psychiatric or substance abuse-related, we still have a lot of taboo that’s passed on. So it’s definitely more taxing for a congressman or senator.”

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Amid growing speculation about his absence from the House since late May, the office of Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) released a statement last week acknowledging he is “receiving intensive medical treatment at a residential treatment facility for a mood disorder.” 

Jackson is currently at the center of a House Ethics Committee investigation, which Khaleghi — who founded Malibu’s Creative Care treatment facility — believes might be a source of trouble for the congressman. ”Mood disorders certainly get exacerbated by a lot of stress,” he said. “I can imagine there’s been a lot of stress in his life in the last couple of months.”

Jackson also recently survived a challenging primary. He was so concerned about it that he personally asked, and received, President Obama’s endorsement.

Khaleghi, the author of The Anatomy of Addiction: Overcoming the Triggers That Stand in the Way of Recovery, says Jackson’s political life probably won’t come into play at a rehab center, unless the lawmaker is attempting to do work during his recovery.

“Whether he’s in tune with the Ethics Committee and that sort of thing would continue to stress him out. I would imagine people working with him are trying to create a bit of a buffer so he can at least evaluate the root of this stress and anxiety.”

Critics have blasted Jackson for not being more upfront about his health issues. “We always say the more secrets, the sicker you are. Secrets are really what kills the individual, because you continue to numb whatever’s happening underneath. We always encourage transparency but not self-exposure, because you have to know how to really balance those things when you’re in the political life,” advises Khaleghi.

The doctor, who does not treat Jackson, says the House member could go back to work “but it’s going to take time.” The addiction expert has a few tips for Jackson: “We would advise him to take it easy, pick up yoga, do things to regulate your emotions, learn how to relax, follow medications thoroughly [and] continue receiving treatment … It’s a very, very high-pressure life and job that he has. [He has to] be able to learn how to deal with that.”