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DRY IDEA

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Entertainers will always have Aspen and the Hamptons, but steadily gaining in popularity as travel spots are Rancho Mirage, Calif., and Center City, Minn. — home of the Betty Ford Center and Hazelden Foundation, respectively. And in ’96, celebs flocked to rehab with the fanfare once reserved for baby announcements.

Some, like heroin abusers Robert Downey Jr. and Stone Temple Pilots’ Scott Weiland, had no choice; judges forced them to dry out. The law also influenced Kelsey Grammer’s decision to seek treatment when he was arrested Sept. 21 for suspicion of drunk driving after flipping his Dodge Viper.

Jean-Claude Van Damme, on the other hand, checked himself into rehab Dec. 7 to battle unspecified ”substance abuse.” But he did not go quietly: The actor (who sees himself as a ”role model to children”) alerted the press he was seeking treatment. And while Brett Butler was receiving outpatient care for addiction to painkillers, she joked to David Letterman about having a ”Percodan patch.” Then there’s Pamela Anderson Lee, who agreed to reconcile with her husband, Tommy Lee, after he publicly declared he was seeking treatment for alcoholism.

Of course, it’s not only stars seeking the cure. Don Ohlmeyer, West Coast president of NBC, entered the Betty Ford Center Dec. 5 to deal with his alcoholism, which prompted NBC to issue a statement of support. Is publicly owning up to treatment the new 13th step? ”Celebrities…have a choice whether to go public,” says John Schwarzlose, president of the Betty Ford Center. ”We recommend they don’t.”

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