Comedian George Carlin, a counter-culture hero who gained fame in the 1970s with routines about drugs and dirty words, said on Monday he was voluntarily entering a drug and alcohol treatment program.
“I’m going into rehab because I use too much wine and Vicodin,” Carlin, 67, whose latest book “When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops?” is a national bestseller, said in a statement. “No one told me I needed this; I recognized the problem and took the step myself.”
The announcement came weeks after the veteran stand-up comic caused a stir at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas with a performance that questioned the intellect of people who visit the resort city.
According to media accounts of the incident, Carlin’s bit about “moronic” Vegas tourists touched off a bitter, profane exchange with members of the audience, including one woman who shouted “Stop degrading us.”
Carlin has acknowledged having battled cocaine addiction in the 1980s but said he quit on his own by tapering off the drug. He also has suffered three heart attacks.
Speaking of his current problem, he said: “My levels of use are nowhere near the worst you hear about these days; I could easily have continued functioning at a good level … for awhile. But my use would have progressed, I would have been in deeper trouble, and I didn’t want to tolerate that.”
Carlin’s spokesman, Jeff Abraham, said the comedian entered rehab on Monday but did not know how long he would remain in treatment. He said Carlin was currently scheduled to begin a new engagement at Stardust Hotel in Vegas in February.