I don't know Lindsay Lohan, but I've worked with many young drug abusers and their well-meaning co-dependent families, and I believe one thing is true. The Hollywood and media industries need to come together and stage one big intervention before their not so well-meaning co-dependence with Lindsay ends in tragedy.
Lindsay has endless funds for drugs. People around her tend to give her exactly what she wants. Movie contracts help shorten her stay at rehab. The legal system is the only entity that seems to be able to say "no" but not for too long. She must feel like she can leap tall buildings in a single bound.
Sounds terrifying to me. How awful to live with no boundaries. How miserable to have only one's tendency to self destruct standing by when anxiety or depression overwhelms. How frightening to have a family (the media) make a living off her pain.
If Lindsay Lohan became my client, I'd ask her to bring along her parents and explain to all three of them that if this doesn't stop she could die too soon. I'd tell Lindsay it's nice that she's a gifted actress, but my sense is she's also a sensitive and insightful person or she wouldn't be the actress that she is, and her talent can wait. I would tell her I suspect she feels like a sham anyway (as do most abusers and addicts no matter what their career). She sashays around like a movie star, but inside she's hollow. She has to learn to fill the space with a sense of herself, not drugs and alcohol. What makes her special is not her talent but the idiosyncratic nature of her personality, humor, and intelligence and these things are getting lost in the tornado of substances she uses.
She needs an addiction specialist to accurately assess the degree of her illness and formulate a treatment plan which might look like this:
- A one month wilderness program, where no one will give a darn about Lindsay's movie star status. They're all too miserable being the star of their own unhappy lives. She has to follow the rules, be part of a team, participate in groups and start to notice her pain is hers to resolve. She needs to allow the raw honest elements of the rugged outdoors to breathe fresh, drug-free air into her body and soul.
- A residential treatment center and a three to six months out-patient program at which she would gain the strength to look at herself honestly, self-respect, set new goals and learn a skill set to maintain sobriety. (Enough of the one month here, skip a few weeks, two months there pattern culminating in the "I'm a different person now" claim which is nothing but a pretend recovery. The real thing takes time, courage and perseverance.)
- Once these programs are completed, AA meetings everyday for a few months and then a few times a week for years to come with a terrific sponsor she can't intimidate -- and/or she might choose a solid, unflappable therapist who doesn't mind confronting a movie star. I'd probably be good for her, but I'm too far away. Still I'm offering a consultation. Please note I take almost no insurance.
Finally, and now here's the crux of it, I'd say to her parents, "I know she's 24. You have limited control. And anyway Lindsay has to have some sense that it's time to stop herself for any of this to work. Parents famous, or not, are often helpless in the face of over 18 addicts. But you two may not be."
I'd suggest that they try and take legal control of her money based on the fact that she is a danger to herself. Then I'd tell them to spearhead a request that is perhaps naive, certainly unheard of and wildly dramatic of Lindsay's beloved industry. Hollywood and the media world in general should stage an intervention. I'd suggest they ask every movie studio and production company in town to make absolutely no offers; ask every tabloid to drop her picture from their pages and every radio or TV host or show to say "no" to interviews (and that would include with her parents). I'd suggest a total black out of all things Lindsay until she does what she needs to do to save her life.
Of course it would be better if Lindsay could decide to step away all on her own. But that's a tough one. Lindsay doesn't seem to understand or want to own the truth about her disease. That's a classic symptom. She, like so many drug abusers and addicts is possessed by the demon within. She desperately needs to feel important and since she can't provide that feeling for herself she's dependent on the media despite the way they mock and oblige her in the most repugnant ways. If Hollywood is as interested in interventions as television seems to indicate, let them show they care about and can face reality not just create reality shows. It would be the equivalent (in grand scale) of a family saying to a young adult addict, "We love you, but you can no longer live in our house if you insist on running your life this way. We refuse to watch you die. " Such stands can save a life. A move like this would send a profound message of support to everyone with an alcoholic, drug abuser or drug addict in their family.
Hooray for Hollywood!
Please do it before we are all drawn to watch yet another macabre memorial at the Staples Center filled with people who genuinely cared and those who didn't ... and that left everyone, even TV viewers wondering ... if there wasn't some way to have stopped this from happening.
Actually I have a suggestion. If Hollywood and the media pay me no mind, don't buy a single tabloid with her picture, don't go to a single movie in which she appears, and turn off the TV when her image pops up. A grassroots nationwide intervention! But not just for Lindsay's sake. Hopefully it will trickle down to the many families who need the strength to stand up to and with the beloved addict in their midst.
Follow Meg F. Schneider, MA, LCSW on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MegFSchneider