Wife-beating actor Charlie Sheen has checked into rehab as a "preventative measure." Witness the ingenious invention of a new celebrity phenomenon: Prehab. A guide to the four advantages it provides over actual rehab.

Both Charlie and wife Brooke Mueller—who accused Charlie of beating her and threatening her with a switchblade on Christmas day—are now in rehab for unspecified problems, and are not addicted to any chemicals, according to their publicists. Commenter GlasgowRose dubs the phenomenon "prehab." Four reasons why famous people will love it:

1. Get that 'rehab' career bump without actually being an addict. Going to rehab is the colon cleanse of Hollywood careers: When your path to stardom is all gummed up with muck and pain-in-the-ass distractions, you abscond to a relaxing, chemical-free resort in Taos or Aspen, and emerge a month or two later as though a butterfly from chrysalis—refreshed, glowing, under-eye bags reduced. But it's so annoying, because to get into rehab, you have to be an addict, and sometimes you just want the sympathy and attention without first being reduced to sucking dick to score crack rocks, y'know? Prehab allows you to admit frailty and seek support without coming within a 100-foot radius of "rock bottom," which is an awfully humiliating place that would totally ruin your complexion.

2. If you are an addict, begin treatment before exiting the 'denial' phase. Admitting you have a problem is the first step. But the early bird catches the worm, so why not start your rehabilitation before you admit to having a problem? Somewhere in the back of your mind, perhaps, you recognize that a mug full of whiskey before your feet hit the ground in the morning is a problem. But you need someone to confirm it, to coax you down that treacherous path from "denial" to "acceptance." If you're a filthy rich celebrity, why not hang out at a 5-star resort with white linen sheets for that process?

3. Prehab is the poor man's private island getaway. Sometimes you just want to be alone, away from the scrutiny of the press, where the paparazzi cannot chase you, where the maids aren't stealing your used underwear and selling it on eBay. Rehab is great for this, because the 'help' is sworn to secrecy, by law and medical ethics boards. If you're Tiger Woods, they'll leak anyway, but if you're a run-of-the-mill tabloid fascination—tawdry enough for a National Enquirer sidebar, but not marketable enough for a solo cover—rehab is the best price-to-luxury-to-privacy ratio out there. Even if one of the nurse sells stories to the press—what's she going to sell? Without drugs, booze, or sexual opportunity, you can't get into that much trouble, anyway.

4. Get mental health help without the stigma. I suspect stars already seek in-patient mental health treatment under the guise of "rehab"; since chemical addictions frequently mask mental health deficits, rehab can double as psychiatric treatment. But once you break your addiction, what if you still need help? What if you need help and aren't addicted? After the disastrous circus of Britney Spears' stint in the crazy house, who can blame a mentally addled celeb for being wary of the looney bin stigma. For whatever reason, Americans are more forgiving of addicts than crazies. (Maybe it's less frightening if something synthetic caused it?) And Hollywood is chock full of crazies, so as long as the stigma remains, celebrities will concoct elaborate quasi-rehabilitative scenarios to explain away the time they need to deal with their brains and feelings and such. [Pics: Getty, Bauer-Griffin, Bauer-Griffin, X17]