Doctor Optimistic About Lindsay Lohan’s Recovery
It’s been nearly a month since Celebuzz last sought insight from Harvard and UCLA Med School Professor Dr. John Sharp on the subject of Lindsay Lohan’s early dismissal from rehab, and as it turns out, that’s all the time it took for the troubled actress to end up right back in police custody.
However, the good doctor is hopeful LiLo can follow in the footsteps of Robert Downey Jr., who is well known for having visited the lowest points of drug addiction before bouncing back to reclaim his stature as an A-list leading man.
Dr. Sharp has dealt with many addiction predicaments that he believes are similar to Lindsay’s, but he has not treated her directly. Here’s what he had to say:
CELEBUZZ: What does her relapse indicate about her mental state?
SHARP: The relapse that’s she’s having clearly indicates that she has to take her illness more seriously. As far as we can tell, apparently she is accepting that she has a problem, and she has to deal with it. The nature of the problem is that it can jump up and bite you when you’re not looking. You have to be vigilant, and you have to be more careful. I’m inferring on some of this, but what we know is that she says that she has a problem. When she was discharged from UCLA, the story at the time was that perhaps she was misdiagnosed with ADD or perhaps she was taking Adderall or the medicine for ADD that she didn’t need, and that perhaps off of that she was a whole different person and perhaps could do it on her own in terms of taking on the responsibility for a pretty heavy duty out-patient set of responsibilities. Now, we’ve seen that she’s been running around a little bit too much, that she’s failed maybe not one but two drug tests that include maybe cocaine and maybe amphetamines, and it’s evident that she’s accepting that she can’t handle this, that she has an illness that she really has to face up to. From my point of view, that’s good. The fact that she might have to go to jail because of this, the fact that that might be the consequence of her not being able to do her part, that’s heavy. That’s not necessarily theraputic to have to go to jail, but realizing that your actions have consequences, that is healthy for all of us to recognize. I think that it shows you how bad her illness is that knowing that was the consequence, knowing that was hanging over her head, she still couldn’t keep herself clean.
CELEBUZZ: It’s hard to digest sometimes knowing that she probably isn’t a stupid person. Would you say she is compelled to take drugs?
SHARP: Well, yeah, we don’t have any better explanation than this must be the monkey on her back. This must be the thing that’s beyond her own ability to control based on will power. Either she chose to violate her probation, do drugs, and didn’t care about getting in trouble, or she really didn’t choose that, but that she was in a circumstance where that kind of addictive part of her took action, and she, through her own will power, couldn’t control it. That is what happens with people who are addicts. They may have the best intentions. ‘I’m going to go to that party and not drink. I’m going to go to that party. I’m not going to let anyone tempt me with anything to do with drugs,’ but then later, you can’t keep your guard up. I think that some of us may look at the fact that she even went to New York, went to the Chateau Marmont, went to places where perhaps it was going to be more difficult for her, and worry that may have been poor judgement, but ultimately, giving in when you’re an addict isn’t thought to be poor judgement; it’s thought to be just a direct consequence of the addiction problem.
CELEBUZZ: If and when she does go back to rehab, in what ways will the treatment differ for her as a person who’s been through the process a few times already?
SHARP: Many people with addiction need to try and fail on a number of occasions before they really can surrender to the fact that they’re not in control, that they really need to get a higher level of support that they would like to think that they wouldn’t need. That concept of surrender is really important. It’s not giving up but rather giving yourself over to the reality of, ‘You know what, I don’t have the upper hand on this. You know what, I’m going to really have to listen and take to heart the advice that’s coming my way, and I’m going to have to act accordingly.’ As a result of what we’re seeing now, certainly the advice coming her way would be weighted towards maintaining her health in the context of sobriety. She has to change her life style. She has to change her friends. She has to change her ways. You can’t keep doing the same thing and expect a different result, as the wise man once said, and probably, her willingness to accept that will be greater. She’s already got a treatment plan that covers the bases in terms of individual therapy, in terms of sobriety support, in terms of check-ins on a daily basis, both with her treatment team and now apparently with the probation department, so she’s already supported and accountable.
CELEBUZZ: The director for her next film Inferno recently added a clause to her contract that requires that she stay sober or lose the role. What’s your take on that?
SHARP: Assuming that she cares about consequences that would be helpful. She seems to be going in the direction that she cares. The irony is that she gets busted because she broke her probation, did drugs, yet at the same time she’s saying that she recognizes now more than ever that she is dealing with a problem which includes addiction. It’s ironic that it is more hopeful in the end, even though right now she’s staring down more trouble than she would like to have.
CELEBUZZ: It’s really tricky because you want to call it progress.
SHARP: You do want to call it progress, but it’s hard won, man. This is the hard way, and sometimes that’s the only way. I think it is in her case.
CELEBUZZ: Her parents almost always have something to say to the press, but this time they haven’t played the blame game. What’s important for them to do now?
SHARP: That silence perhaps does speak to the fact that there’s not much more to be said. You can’t really blame this on somebody else or blame this on just circumstance. I think as we’ve said, she’s got to be very careful with the “somebody elses” that she trusts and hangs around with. Think of it as an illness. She was kind of denying that she had an addiction problem, and now, she’s kind of not. That could be a critical turning point for her, and I hope she continues to get the treatment that she needs and involve herself with it fully.
CELEBUZZ: Based on what you’ve seen before from addicts and celebrities, how many more chances do you think the American public will give Lindsay before their sympathy turns into something else?
SHARP: In most cases, I think we find that the American public can be very, very forgiving as long as somebody truly is able to turn over a new leaf at least for themselves. I think that after a while, it’s hard to keep up the same level of concern for somebody who seems to be repeating the same mistakes over and over again. If she is able to make whatever change is needed as soon as possible, even if that’s a long time away, I think people can jump on the bandwagon again and be very much a part of the happiness that can ensue. Rob Downey Jr. is a good example of that. He had a lot of trouble for a long time, and everyone is so thrilled to see his comeback and to see how well he’s doing. I don’t think it’s a matter of the length of time. I think it’s a matter of the person learning their lesson. In terms of the American public – people who are keeping up with the news – there are really two kinds of curiosities. One is more of a morbid curiosity, and the other is more of a healthy curiosity. Those of us with a morbid curiosity may not mind watching somebody slip and fall over and over again. People with more of a healthy curiosity might be the types to start losing interest because this is nothing new, so the amount of sustained interest people have in a situation like this depends a little bit on the situation but also a little bit on the nature of the interest that the person has.
Aside from teaching classes at Harvard and UCLA, Dr. John Sharp is a nationally renowned psychiatrist who specializes in integrated psychotherapy and psycho-pharmalogic treatment of disorders like depression, addiction, and attention deficit. He is also the executive medical director for Bridges to Recovery, a residential rehab located on the outskirts of Los Angeles.
What questions do you have for Dr. John Sharp? Tell us in the comments section.