Dr. Keith Ablow on David Hasselhoff’s Addiction

 According to a recent report, David Hasselhoff was hospitalized with a dangerous level of alcohol in his bloodstream. The actor was apparently at home with his 17-year-old daughter Hayley and had been drinking for more than a day when she called 911, worried that he wouldn’t survive the binge. He was hospitalized with a high blood-alcohol level in May.

Dr. Keith Ablow wrote in an article for Fox News, “David Hasselhoff’s reported hospitalization for a dangerous level of alcohol in his bloodstream, if confirmed, means that he needs a long period of inpatient rehabilitation, followed by more aggressive outpatient treatment, in order to stay sober and stay alive.”

“Alcohol dependence is a notoriously difficult condition to overcome. Getting sober and staying sober can take daily 12-step-meetings, for years. It can take two or four or more inpatient detoxes. I have treated patients who had not stopped drinking after a 20th detox,” Dr. Ablow wrote.

Dr. Ablow explains that over the years he has learned that overcome alcoholism takes a multidisciplinary and very aggressive approach that can include a period of acute detoxification in a hospital setting, a longer period of rehabilitation in a treatment center, and a very long period of outpatient treatment that is very structured and involves the patient, his or her family and friends, and others.

Stating that too many people die of alcohol abuse because clinicians aren’t willing to go to “war” to battle the condition, Dr. Ablow wrote, “A real war means treating any co-existing psychiatric condition, like depression or attention deficit disorder.”

“A real war means motivating the patient to look at his character. The idea that a person chooses alcohol over his obligations to self and others means that he is unable or unwilling to do the right thing. Lots of therapists don’t want to judge the alcoholic, but judging a man who collapses repeatedly in front of his teenage daughter and makes her worry about him dying is OK by me.”

“A real war means motivating family members to cease all co-dependent behavior. That may mean telling the alcoholic that he can’t live at home anymore (or at least for an extended period of time), because home isn’t for people who get drunk,” he continued.

“A real war means motivating the person’s employer to submit the alcoholic to random drug tests and to make his employment contingent on his sobriety. A real war can mean coaching a family through going to court to become the medical guardians of the alcoholic and remove his decision-making capacity over his health affairs. That renders the alcoholic a child in the eyes of the law, allowing family members to hospitalize him for detox when it’s needed, not when the alcoholic likes the idea.”

Dr. Ablow concluded by writing that David Hasselhoff seems to need all of the above. “I wish him and his family well,” he wrote, “And I wish for all of them a doctor willing to go to the wall and wage war on his illness.”