Matthew Perry heads back to rehab - just in case

Actors Matthew Perry and Allison Janney speak onstage during the 'Mr. Sunshine' panel during the summer Television Critics Association press tour on August 1, 2010 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
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Matthew Perry is headed back to rehab.
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Matthew Perry can hold down a starring role on a TV sitcom, but off camera the funnyman actor seems to be having trouble shaking substance abuse issues.

"I'm making plans to go away for a month to focus on my sobriety and to continue my life in recovery," Perry told TMZ. "Please enjoy making fun of me on the world wide web."

But substance abuse is no laughing matter, Matthew.

This trip to rehab marks at least the third go-round for the 41-year-old star of "Friends" and "Mr. Sunshine." Perry sought treatment in 1997 and then again 2001, later telling People magazine that he had been downing 20 to 30 Vicodins and "probably a quart of vodka" a day.

Why do so many substance abusers keep returning to rehab? Because it's a chronic disease, addiction specialist Dr. Omar Manejwala, medical director of the Hazelden Foundation substance abuse treatment facility in Center City, Minn., told CBS News. "Evidence suggests that the majority of the people need repeated treatment," he said. "If the initial treatment is only partially effective, we don't call that a failure."

Failure or not, Perry's got lots of company in the in-again, out-again world of rehab. Two million Americans enter rehab each year, and up to 60 percent relapse after treatment.

Perry's latest trip to rehab wasn't occasioned by a relapse but was a preventive measure, according to People. Sounds odd, but Dr. Carol J. Weiss told CBS News that former substance abusers go to rehab for all sorts of reasons. Some are seeking help for emotional problems, while others are thinking about using again and want to make sure they don't.

"There are programs specifically designed for people who are not pleased with how their recovery is going but haven't actually relapsed," said Weiss, a psychiatrist at New York Presbyterian Hospital in New York City.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse has more on substance abuse.