The Real "Dream Team" Lindsay Lohan Needs

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

When news circulated last week that Lindsay Lohan had hired attorney Robert Shapiro, I believed that things were finally looking up for the troubled star. Shapiro, whose son died from a drug overdose five years ago, clearly understands the disease of addiction—and seemed to have a sincere interest in ensuring Lindsay’s recovery. That is, until he mysteriously quit her case Monday night, just hours before she “surrendered” for her 90-day prison term.

Lindsay no longer has Shapiro in her corner, but watching her estranged father and “friends” on Larry King Live on Tuesday night, I realized that what she really needs is a “dream team” of a different sort. I’m not talking about agents or PR reps who could remake her image. I’m referring to a dedicated team of treatment professionals and other recovery supporters who could help her get back on track.

After her stint in jail—which is likely to be around three weeks—she’ll head to three months of mandated in-patient drug treatment. Some commentators have suggested that treatment won’t work for Lindsay unless she’s ready to admit she needs it, but people who become addicted are rarely able to see that their behavior is out of control before others do. Research has shown that those who are coerced into treatment by the criminal justice system can be just as successful as those who seek treatment voluntarily. That said, barring a miracle or a spiritual epiphany, 90 days of treatment will not be enough to change Lindsay’s behavioral patterns. After all, she’s been in rehab three times before—without much success.

What will make the difference this time is if she remains in residential treatment for an extended period of time— at least six months, followed by a minimum of six months of outpatient care and ongoing monitoring. At the beginning, she should not head to a transitional living facility as she did in the days leading up to her surrender. Her best shot at recovery will be an intensive, medically based program where doctors and other addiction specialists are on staff—and are actively involved with the treatment plan.

According to probation reports, Lindsay has been taking a dangerous cocktail of pills, including the powerful opiate painkiller Dilaudid —leading her father and others to suspect prescription drug addiction. According to SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, “The non-medical use of prescription drugs is now the second most prevalent form of illicit drug use in the nation.” In May of 2008, my stepson died from mixing alcohol with prescription drugs, so I know first-hand that prescription medications can be just as lethal as heroin. If it turns out that Lindsay is, in fact, abusing prescription meds, she’ll need a team of experts to work with her and with each other: a psychiatrist who is highly skilled in psycho-pharmacology, a pain specialist, and a host of other substance abuse professionals.

Additionally, the criminal justice system should remain involved to ensure that Lindsay’s progress and her drug use is continually monitored—and that she stays engaged with the process. In the treatment system, those who have the most success are those who are monitored for a considerable length of time. This type of supportive monitoring will hold Lindsay accountable and offer her additional treatment if she veers off course.

The eventual goal for Lindsay—or for anyone who struggles with substance abuse—is independence and self-management. Like diabetes, addiction is a chronic condition. However, relapse is not inevitable. Just as diabetics must monitor their disease and adjust their medications, Lindsay must learn to adjust the volume and intensity of her recovery support for the rest of her life. She needs a “dream team,” but she also needs to keep her eyes on the prize. This could be her moment to get it right.

Deni Carise
Chief Clinical Officer, Phoenix House

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  • I have often thought that if Lindsay Lohan can engage in recovery for the long-haul, she will become a strong advocate of recovery. I hope that it will go this way for her, because the only other option I can see for her is one that will silence her forever. I hope that doesn’t happen–she’s talented (see Georgia Rule if you haven’t already), a whole young generation of people connect with her, and her demise is so predictable if she isn’t saved from herself. Here’s hoping that the judge in this case has started her on a path that she will gain some traction on.

  • I am in complete agreement with the plan of action that has been laid out in this post. I began following Lindsay’s case several years ago and recent events have prompted me to create the ground work for a non-profit group for her to get involved with to help keep her sober as well as help other struggling young high profiles. I have also dispatched messages to her agency and attorneys but these have been ignored. Long term treatment, 12-step program work, structured living, and charity work will help to not only keep her sober but repair her struggling public image.
    Serenity Project coupled with HOME are just these things!
    Let me know if you are interested in hearing more or co-collaborating!

  • Good article and I totally agree. Unlike most she has the resources to afford the best treatment. I hope and pray she get the help and support she needs.

  • have read the articile and she really needs to want it or she will wind up again in prison or DEAD!!! she needs to really get serious with her addiction, and realize that she has a real DRUG problem and have to want it, there are some many people out there that don’t know where to go for help and she has it, and doesn’t even want to help herself,I am a Phoenixhouse graduate and believe me it does work you have to want it bad enough and there are so many programs willing to help you.

  • Successful celebrity recovery includes releasing the grip on the trappings of fame. Long term, intensive, chronic relapse work is needed to break through the ego and money barriers. Lindsay might benefit from a conversation with Robert Downey, Jr.

  • Pray for her to Hit her bottom without killing or maming herself! Mandate her to the 24 hour club on Ross ave in Dallas Texas where she can sleep on the floor get humble and see recovering and wet alcoholics and addicts daily and see the disease in action from mild to chronic she needs Humility. Some must die that others may live! Get Eric Clapton to talk to her!

  • Earl Alexander

    i think our phoenix houses of New York would be great place for Lindsay Lohan. our 6 to 12 month would help her alot. ,she can even enroll in the womens program that we offer here. i think lindsay is a great actress she needs her life back on track and focus on her carreer. she really has to want the help and i think phoenix house would be a great place for her to start her recovery

  • In addition to all of the comments above, Lindsey needs a strong support system of people in recovery. Certainly, people, places and things play a huge part of her relapse. Anyone who is co-signing her behavior is literally killing her and until it becomes totally unacceptable and she is held accountable for her actions as well as admits that she has a problem, will she then begin her recovery process. There are many celebrities who are in recovery and these are the people that she should seek out and who should reach out to her. I think this would be a great place to start and to learn that there is life after drugs.
    Wishing Lindsey all of the best!!!!!!

  • I think Lindsey needs to go to a theraputic behavioral modification treatment center,and not to a treatment center that caters to the wealthy and famous because i dont feel they get real treatment there. She should go to a program where its differant walks of life, like a nonprofit treatment facility where she can see the real affects of addiction from people from the streets.

  • Lindsey is a repeated offender. Why break the law for Lindsey. Double Standards I say. Ex., Michael Vick went to prison for killing dogs. Ben Rosenberger Star Quarterback with the Steeler RAPES and WOMEN goes to a treatment center. Double Standard…

  • Gotta agree with Kathy on this one. Celebrities get the rub and are treated to an unlimited number of chances while regular Joes are deemed hopeless by most. Plus, in order for her to become successful in kicking the habit, Lindsey must also drop her acting gig and most especially her social life, which I think is next to impossible since she’s established a reputation of partying all night long. The proposal of this article is noble but is highly improbable, in my opinion.