PLAYBOY: That sounds suicidal to us.
SHEEN: Maybe subconsciously.
PLAYBOY: And it all ended up with you in the Los Robles Hospital. What happened?
SHEEN: I got bored with smoking and snorting. A buddy of mine who's kind of a speed junkie had left a rig behind. It was still in the package and unused, and I thought I would shoot some cocaine. I had never done it before and I was all alone—a good time to shoot, right? [Shakes head and laughs]
PLAYBOY: You loaded up the needle and put it in your arm.
SHEEN: Oh yeah. Fired it straight home. Just like I'd seen in Pulp Fiction, or in that movie with Gary Busey and Dustin Hoffman, Straight Time. And nothing happened. I thought, This sucks—so I did some more. Then it all hit me at once. My legs went out. They disappeared. I couldn't walk. I tried to get downstairs to get some vodka, to try to bring everything down, and I couldn't. I was fucking terrified. I thought, OK, I'm going. I checked my blood pressure and my heart rate. My vitals were up, but they weren't code. Finally, I managed to take little baby steps down the stairwell. It took 20 minutes; it felt like 20 days. Horrifying.
PLAYBOY: Your heart going boom-boom-boom?
SHEEN: From the panic. I thought something really wrong had happened. I didn't want to just tough it out. I called my bodyguard and said, "Dude, we've got to 911 it." So we did. In the ambulance they gave me a big shot of something to bring me down, and I fell asleep. That's when the paramedic called the press and sold me like a loaf of bread. This was news, and he wanted to be the one to report it.
PLAYBOY: The paramedic called the media right from the ambulance?
SHEEN: Must have, because there were too many people waiting when I got there. At the hospital I just wanted a shot of Ativan or something mellowing. Instead, I got a doctor who came right into the room and got way too close to my face and said, "You need AA and you need it now." I'm thinking, Fuck you and your AA. Give me some Valium. Then I drifted into half-sleep, a dream state. I never had an official overdose, but I think that's where I was headed. Then Dad went on the news, and the judge heard that I had OD'd. I was on this watch for probation. It didn't involve testing, but I was supposed to obey all laws, so they hauled me in.
PLAYBOY: Didn't your dad ask the judge to arrest you?
SHEEN: Right. He went on the news and said, "My son has had a drug overdose." That triggered Judge Mira.
PLAYBOY: He seems to get all the young actors.
SHEEN: Yeah, we keep him busy. But I've got to tell you, I really came to respect the guy I initially deeply resented and held so much animosity toward. He could see a little more progress in me each time I'd go in for updates and visits. He'd say, "I have to keep the probation on, but you're doing great, you look great and I hear great things. Keep up the good work." I think he was inspired because I was really the first guy who followed his code and held true to what he imposed. I accepted it and knew that it was because he wanted to save my life, not because he wanted to punish me. He saw past the textbook punitive avenues. He dug deeper into himself for something more humane, because he didn't see a criminal, he just saw a guy who had become a drug addict and needed therapy.
But believe me, I knew if I got loaded I was going away for a while. In fact, people would say, "Oh, you're just sober because you're on probation." I'd say, "Well, maybe today. But maybe tomorrow that won't be the case." What you come to discover is, it isn't how you get there, it's that you get there. If that's what it took to get me where I'm at today, so be it.
PLAYBOY: Any temptations afterward?
SHEEN: Sure. I had plans early on, the day I got off probation, to go to Amsterdam and go on a whole run. I wanted to control the disease again, so I could take back the power. Going would have been giving away the power.
PLAYBOY: Why haven't you ever discussed this part of the experience publicly?
SHEEN: It's nice to talk about it and know that I don't have to go through it ever again. That's terrifying shit. I would have given anything—any movie, any car, any woman, anything—to just be normal. I'm talking about it because some kid who's struggling with his own addictions might read an interview I've given, looking for something inspirational or truthful that might save or deter him.
PLAYBOY: We don't mean to be naysayers, but you've never listened to people who tried to help you.
SHEEN: You're right. When you're in the grips of it, everybody can basically fuck off. But that doesn't mean I shouldn't try.
PLAYBOY: Do you remember the day you got off probation?
SHEEN: I drove up to Promises, my rehab alma mater, and I talked with my drug counselor, who had done time and was on probation, too. I wanted to talk to another addict about this blessing and about the progress that had taken place. I said, "I don't have any desire to get loaded right now. I'm really so grateful and so happy to have my freedom back." When I was in camp and had to wear the Lo-Jack ankle bracelet monitor, I vowed there and then that I would never again do anything to lose my freedom.
PLAYBOY: Do movies get rehab right?
SHEEN: No. It's bullshit. I saw 28 Days. I don't remember rehab being like a day camp or being that funny. Rehab is a dumping ground. It's a big landfill where you go to unload all your shit. You kind of pick through what's worth keeping and fixing, reassemble some of the pieces and hopefully move on. Of the 20-some people in my original group, only one other person I know for sure is sober.
PLAYBOY: So what does that say about rehab?
SHEEN: It says more about the disease, how insidious it is. It's the only disease that tells you that you don't have it. Rehab is a motherfucker, especially if you've had any kind of life where you've been the man. Suddenly you're in a place where there's no special treatment. You're equalized.
PLAYBOY: So now drugs are out, drink is out. How about sex?
SHEEN: [Laughs] Of course not. I got sober, I didn't get stupid.
PLAYBOY: Just curious: How well were you able to function sexually on cocaine?
SHEEN: I was never shut down by the drugs; that was my problem. Cocaine was an aphrodisiac, it wasn't a cancellation element. I think that was a bit of a curse. Anybody else would say, "What do you mean? You did an eight-ball and had sex all night?" I'd be like, Yeah, didn't you?
PLAYBOY: And the women were easy to come by?
SHEEN: Yeah. But for every perk, there's a pitfall. For every free meal, there's a tabloid story. For every girl who sleeps with you, there are two who don't—and not until the end of the night, when they're alone with you and back at your place, do you realize they had it planned from the get-go.
PLAYBOY: You didn't expect to get lucky every time, did you?
SHEEN: No. But they could have told us that at the bar, before we left with them, instead of at three A.M., when everybody else is gone and the options are done.
PLAYBOY: Can we clear up a few Charlie Sheen rumors?
PLAYBOY: Is it true that you hired hookers and had them dress up as cheerleaders?
SHEEN: Total bullshit.
PLAYBOY: Five women in one bed at a time?
SHEEN: True, but it happened only once. It wasn't a habitual thing.
PLAYBOY: Did you have them laid out in a pentagon?
SHEEN: [Smiles] No, it was just the end of the night and everybody had split. It was me and five girls, and I said, "Well, I'm up for it if you girls are." They're like, "Yeah, right." That was a challenge, so I went for it. I was with one at a time with the other four watching. It was a little uncomfortable, actually. I think I said, "Can you guys just look the other way until it's your turn?" I wouldn't recommend five at once. There's just not enough guy to go around.
PLAYBOY: Where do you normally draw the line?
SHEEN: At two. Even with two, somebody's always jealous. Even if it's their idea, someone comes away pissed off. Something happens and you spend the rest of the night apologizing for something they initiated. A lot of times you'll be with your steady and she'll invite a girlfriend; they'll get a couple drinks in them and say, "Hey, whaddya think?" Before you know it, you're into it. Then you pay more attention to one or the other and there are problems. Two women is a big guy fantasy that looks better on paper.