The Celebrity Rehab host cautions that the actor not rush back to work and "take the time" to recover fully

By Cynthia Wang
January 31, 2011 11:45 AM
Credit: Gilbert Flores/Celebrity Photo; Michael Tran/FilmMagic

Charlie Sheen has made a career of playing down his real-life bad-boy tendencies by playing them up on screen.

That may be good for the actor’s career but, according to Dr. Drew Pinsky of VH1’s Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, it’s not a good strategy for addiction recovery.

Sheen “is not a cartoon character bad boy,” the internist, 52, tells PEOPLE. “This is somebody with some character [and] logical flaws that make him like to be a bad boy, but … [he] has a life-threatening illness.”

On Saturday, after taking a day to consider his options, the actor 45, voluntarily checked himself into a rehab facility after being rushed to a Los Angeles hospital on Thursday with abdominal pains.

“Let’s all be hopeful he’s going in the right direction,” says Pinsky. “Charlie’s been in recovery before. He’s actually been an active recovering person, so he knows what it is.”

In order to recover, repeat rehabbers “need a long term of structure for them to capitulate and take direction,” Pinsky says, “and not think they know better or know what they need to do.”

One thing people like Sheen should not do is return to work quickly.

“It’s like any form of rehabilitation,” Pinsky says. “Whether you are rehabilitating from an ankle injury or pneumonia, you’ve got to take the time and you’ve got to get out of the environments that impact adversely on the recovery process – whether it’s a limb, an organ or the brain.”