"The world can be very forgiving, especially if his behaviors are viewed by others as victimless," Caine said. "Having a powerful negative impact on the people around him would tip the balance. Short of that, many are allowed to recover from being fools or buffoons."
Sheen reportedly threatened to cut off ex-wife Brooke Mueller's head and send it to her mom. He also called "Two and a Half Men" creator Chuck Lorre a "clown," a "stupid, stupid little man" and a "p***y punk that I never want to be like."
But acknowledging past mistakes is part of the recovery process, said Martin Binks, clinical psychologist and CEO of Binks Behavioral Health PLLC, citing the 12-step program from Alcoholics Anonymous. Sheen's media frenzy might therefore aid in his recovery, said Binks, such that "he will have lots of data to look back on and remind himself of his bottom."
Sheen called Alcoholics Anonymous a "bootleg cult" with a 5 percent success rate in a Feb. 24 interview on "The Alex Jones Show."
As for Sheen's future, learning to live with the consequences of the past is part of recovery, said Mark Williamson, a psychiatrist at Memorial Hermann Prevention and Recovery Center in Houston.
"It is often quoted in treatment circles, 'You cannot save your behind and your face at the same time,'" Williamson said. "With appropriate treatment, people will be informed by their past behavior as it relates to their everyday lives moving forward."
Although Sheen's behavior on TV and online might appear to be his last act, they could be his best performance ever, according to Randy Roberts, author and distinguished professor of history at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind.
"Beyond rehab, jail or death, I think there's a fourth option here," Roberts said. "A realty-TV show."
Roberts said Sheen "pressed the limits of what can be done on TV and now he'll press the limits of realty TV.
"Everybody's playing their part in this made-for-TV drama," Roberts said, adding that the tape of the police taking his kids away should have tipped everyone off.
George Santo Pietro, another friend of Sheen's, said Sheen is still in control.
"There's a method to his madness," Pietro said. "There's a bigger story to Charlie than everyone has seen."
The University of Alabama's Klapow said it is possible that Sheen's behavior is calculated.
"We don't know what is orchestrated, we don't know what is drug induced, and we don't know what are his demons coming to the surface," Klapow said. "All we can do is sit, watch and hope and pray that we are seeing a performance and not the real Charlie Sheen."