Lindsay Lohan has been on my mind recently, and not just because I have seen her on countless new stories. She has been in the spotlight recently after having completed her court-ordered 90-day rehab stay. I admit to being skeptical when I learned that Lohan was going to rehab—again. Mind you, this was her sixth stay in six years. She first went in to the Wonderland Clinic in January 2007 for a thirty-day program. May 2007 meant a second trip to rehab, this time to Promises for 45 days. In August 2007, the Cirque Lodge in Utah welcomed her in, where she stayed until October 5th. About three years later, Lohan began a court-ordered rehab stay at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in August 2010. Though sentenced to ninety days, she stayed for 23. In September 2010, she went to the Betty Ford Center in California, where she was ordered to stay until January of 2011. She complied and was released on January 3rd, 2011. May 2013 saw Lindsay return to Betty Ford for a 90-day, court-ordered stay. She left after a little more than a month, but transferred to Cliffside Malibu, where she stayed until July 31st, 2013, thus completing 90 days in rehab. It’s been a long rehab story, and I am sure no one has felt it more than Lindsay. Some could argue that she really doesn’t want it, since she has been in rehab so many times. Surely, one could say, she would be clean already if she just had the will to be clean. It should be reminded, though, that fighting addiction is not just a matter of willpower and that it doesn’t make it on the same level as, say, going to the gym a routine workout on the treadmill, or saying no to an extra cookie. Addictions, and especially those that are based on substance abuse, warp the mind. They have been scientifically shown to change the course of the brain and rewire the thoughts. It can become all the addict knows in life, all they care about, all that is left for them. It can become your identity, and who would ever want to give up their identity? Worse, it is not just something you want, but something you become convinced that you desperately, full-heartedly, absolutely need to have. This, of course, is where some would say that extra help is required. One cannot break an addiction alone. But where is the line between helping someone and forcing them to get help? How does one know how to stop? Considering that half of her stays have been court-ordered, it seems safe to say that forcing someone to go to rehab does not stop the addiction. This is understandable. Any rehab, no matter how nice the facility is or how caring the staff are, is not going to do a person any good if that person does not want to truly get better. Rehab and getting clean are not totally identical with each other. Rehab means getting clean and learning how to manage without your drug of choice, but getting clean means putting those steps into practice—more often than not, again and again and again until they start to become natural. Only a small percentage of the true work is done in a rehab facility. Going back to the real life and learning how to deal is the true test. And how can you force someone to deal with their life? You can’t. You can send them to rehab and have them learn alternative ways of living, but that does not mean that they will pursue a different lifestyle once the program is completed. I suppose that the hope of any court-ordered stay is that the person going to rehab will experience a drastic change of heart once they begin to get sober and realize what life without their drug could be like. While this is understandable (someone in the midst of addiction may not be thinking as clearly as someone who has been given time to start recovery and let the mind heal), I do wonder if this is the best thing. If a person is not ready or willing to change their life, why force them? When I was researching for this, I expected to find appalling statistics for court-ordered rehab stays. However, research seems to suggest that the initial motivation for going to rehab is not the make-or-break factor for determining success outside of rehab. It seems that the rate of success is roughly the same whether or not the rehab is court-ordered. This translates to a 40-60% success rate.
Looking through research, it also seems that there are benefits to being forced to do something (or as forced as you go without physical/mental torture involved). For one, an addict may start to realize the downward path that their addiction is taking them: nowhere. If you have nowhere else to go but rehab (or jail), why not make the most of it? Of course you can fake it until leaving, but if you know that you will relapse and, possibly, get another court-ordered rehab stay, you will only turn your life into a series of hits and relapses and lockdowns. That’s hardly appealing. A court-ordered stay could also give an addict the sense of urgency that comes with their addiction. It may be that the person finally gets and understands that they were in such bad condition that they had to be legally forced to get help. However, I have never been court-ordered to a rehabilitation, and so cannot say for certain what it feels like to go through the experience.
Reader, what is your opinion of the issue? Should addicts be court-ordered to go to rehab regardless of the addict’s attitude prior to going? Or should rehab be reserved only for those who are willing to make the effort?
As for Lindsay, while I do not know the specifics of her situation, I did get a chance to see her recent interview with Oprah. I felt that, in total, the responses she gave were appropriate and had some level of logic to them. I did feel that she may have been holding back on some information (such as saying she had only done cocaine 10-15 times) and being purposely vague on select answers, but she did seem to be mostly genuine. Only the passing of time can reveal where her mindset is. She says that she is in a much better spot right now and wishes to hold onto this feeling. I wish her the best and hope that this rehab stay, despite being court-ordered, was worth it.
*Photo Courtesy of thelundreport.org.