How ironic! The talented, precocious young actress, Lindsay Lohan at twelve, was cast in the double role of twin daughters in the romantic, fairy tale re-make of the original 1961 film, THE PARENT TRAP. Ironic, because now at twenty-four, she is the one who is totally trapped! If only she could magically produce a double of herself - a saner, non-addicted, non-law offending woman - not the one who is soon to serve time in jail, followed by months in rehab.
I doubt that any serious statistics are available comparing the percentage of the rich and famous who become addicts and those in the general population. However, it is certainly true that the price for fame is often that we see too much about the private lives of those who are famous; we read about them and become overly involved in their successes as well as their failures and tragedies.
Surely, there are many young talented artists in every genre who are not victims of addiction or of lives gone completely out of control. But their stories don’t sell papers or blanket our television screens.Addiction is a complex disease: Physiological, genetic, psychosocial, nutritional and environmental factors are often thought to lead to the development of this disorder.
In Lohan’s case, we have to wonder if being lauded at such a young age – starting to model at age three and acting not long thereafter – whether she even stood a chance of beating the odds. Even now, every lawyer, judge, addictions specialist, as well as the public, is left questioning whether this sentencing of jail time followed by months in a Rehab will make the difference that makes a difference!
In February when I wrote about my concerns for Tiger Woods and anyone who’s in the spotlight being able to “recover” in the fullest sense of the word, I say here, too, that I have the same – if not greater concern about Lindsey Lohan. Why? Because she’s younger, because her drugs of choice are many, and because in gaining fame at such a young age she never experienced a normal family life or the normal joys of being a child or overcoming the challenges of adolescence and young adulthood. In short, she never has lived and still does not live in the same world as most of us do. I accentuate “normal,” only to clarify that her normal was: a life seemingly filled with false impressions and the belief that whatever she wanted she could get and whatever she did would be acceptable and excused because, after all, she was Lindsey Lohan. As with Tiger Woods and other celebrities, I truly believe that it’s harder rather than easier for them to free themselves of their demons, to take recovery seriously enough to realize that their very life is at stake (if not the lives of others). Again, I repeat what I said about Tiger Woods: staying focused while the entire world is watching – and while not everyone is truly rooting for you – is no small task.
We all know that life and growing up aren’t easy at best, but for those who aren’t grounded in reality, who are flying high because the world has objectified them and their personhood has gotten lost in the mix – they’re left to soar (with or without drugs!) and then to drop all the harder.
Watching Lohan in the courtroom this past week was nothing short of pathetic and painful. A beautiful, young, talented woman who seemingly convinced herself that the judge would buy her story that she never expected special treatment and that she respected the court, when her contempt for the law has been evident as far back as in 2007 when she lied about possessing drugs and drinking during her DUI arrest.
That she has now been sentenced to ninety days in jail is something that the judge had to do, if she was to be law abiding. However, statistically, serving time in jail (no matter how the number of days may or may not ultimately be reduced) will do little, if anything, to cleanse Lohan of her addictions. First, she has to be treated for withdrawal and not all jails do that. Even if the one she’s placed in does, we then have to hope that she survives being in jail. She’s not a tough, street-smart junkie. She’s rich, famous, and, like all addicts, terribly fragile. Add to that, she has never had to live without the necessities – let alone the luxuries – of life. Those who are less fortunate may find it hard to pity her, but I suggest that she needs as much help as any addict for that very reason. There is nothing enviable about her life at this time!
The mandate that she stay in Rehab for six months after serving her jail term is more likely to offer her the possibility of becoming abstinent, taking her recovery and her life seriously. Unfortunately, though, from all that I have read, it doesn’t seem likely that this young woman will be able to avoid the people, places or things that have continuously caused her to relapse. My fear is that the same world of the paparazzi, the lights of the cameras, the people who want her money and not what is best for her, will continue to trigger her need for drugs, feeding her disease rather than helping her to heal.
There are many wonderful young performers and artists of every ilk who are not addicts. Those like Lohan, however, who start to self-medicate at an early age, lose total sight of the transparency of their behavior, their choices, their lack of self-respect and respect for others. They are simultaneously self-centered and insecure, grandiose in their thinking and destructive in their actions. All that makes them less likely to succeed, to stay clean and to be able to turn their lives around.
I have treated many addicts who have taken their recovery very seriously and have gone on to live honorable lives, but I do think that when someone’s in the spotlight – as Tiger (amongst others) will no doubt continue to be and Lindsay certainly is – their chance for success is slimmer, not greater, because there are more distractions for those who are famous. Staying focused while the entire world is watching makes it far more daunting, the stakes far higher.
I also believe it will be harder for Lohan because she is a woman, because she has been sexualized since she was very young, and because her family of origin is not merely dysfunctional but at odds with one another about Lindsay and about what’s in her best interest.
Who amongst us can truly regain health without the support of a medical community, the community of those who love us ... and a prayer or two?
Naturally, I hope that she survives her stay in jail and that she is placed in the best possible rehabilitation facility, totally secluded from the paparazzi ... with time to find herself, her inner beauty, and her strength. Without that she will remain lost or worse.
The best medication for any addict is the medication of love, guidance, spirituality, and the desire to become and remain abstinent without believing that the world revolves around them but that they – like the rest of us – must have the capacity to reflect upon their values and know that there are very real consequences for illegal actions that place their own life at risk as well as the lives of others.
My heart goes out to Lohan. I wish that we could create a healthy twin for her, both of whom she played so convincingly, so astutely in the film. But, she is no longer a precocious child star. She is a very troubled and desperate young woman who needs all the help she can get.
To any of you who may have a problem with drugs or addictions of any kind, I hope you have people in your life who know how best to get you the help that you deserve.