Lindsay Lohan 07: What makes rehab successful?

You might be tired of the media coverage about Lindsay Lohan’s struggles with alcohol, but, if you know someone with substance abuse problems, then you probably have seen firsthand the difficulty of recovery.

Some people think that the much publicized drunken and drugged out behavior of celebrities is nothing more than “growing pains” or a personal defiance of our culture and authority. After all, some people reason, there are always detox centers—and second and third and tenth chances. In other words, it is easy to glean from celebrities’ behavior that it’s all no big deal.

We are a forgiving culture, often incapable of “judging others.” Empathy and compassion are necessary attributes, but often, when they are used too broadly and repeatedly, they get in the way of instilling expectations in ourselves and others.

Addictions are serious problems. Drunk drivers take many lives, including their own, every year. Addictive behavior is not glamorous. It can be bloody, ugly and criminal. If you know someone with addictions, what should you do?

There is no right answer. The long-term recovery of addicts is not encouraging, and abusers can fall back on this poor rate of success to justify why they can’t get better. Here are a few suggestions to help abusers. No magic answer exists. However, since many addicts believe that they can beat the problem only after they “hit bottom,” here are some thoughts about how to increase the abuser’s motivation.

  1. Consider doing an “intervention” with friends or family members. This is a form of group-pressure tough love. It works for some and not for others. It seems to work best when the interveners already have an established loving and trusting relationship with the abuser.
  2. Since denial is the friend of the addict—and the friend of the friends of addicts-- try keeping a diary of how many times and how much alcohol or drugs your friend or family member consumes. Don’t be fooled into thinking that just because the abuser is not “fall down” drunks, for example, that there is no problem. Abusers can often delay abusing substances until the weekend or end of the day. Look for signs of binge drinking or “lost weekends.” The diary helps friends and family members overcome their own denial. You can then show the diary as “proof” that the behavior is out of control.
  3. Lecturing your friend or family member usually doesn’t work—unless you have some kind of “leverage” over them. In minors, you can take away privileges or send them to a detox center, but in adults, leverage is far more difficult. Some partners have withheld sex or threatened divorce and break ups, but the abusers knows that their partners often can’t follow through on the threat. Don’t say or do anything unless you are prepared to keep your word. These techniques work for some abusers and not at all for others.
  4. Getting a health scare often works. Make an appointment with the family doctor and drag the person there if necessary. Yet, even this technique can backfire. Many addicts, for example, are healthy and show no sign of disease or organ damage.
  5. Employers are sometimes willing to refer employees to the Human Resource Department or put the person on leave. If you have employees with substance abuse problems, do something about it. Consult with Human Resources or your attorney as to the right way to lay off or suspend someone. You don’t do anyone any favor by over-tolerating such destructive behavior—even if the person is one of your “whiz kids.” Eventually, these people not only self-destruct, but they also take the project or other colleagues down with them.
  6. The final question is, “How many times and for how long do I nag, remind, understand, help or get angry at the abuser?” We know about the danger of being a “co-dependent” helpmate who gets burdened with the responsibility of tolerating and helping the abuser. Again, there is no magic answer. Ask yourself, 1) If I didn’t take on the nag-role, what else would I be doing with my life? Am I holding on to it in order to avoid other serious choices about my life? 2) On a scale of 1-10, how tired, exhausted and ill am I for carrying this burden? 3)Am I being abused? 4) Are my children being abused? See what your answers reveal about you.

Let’s hope that Lindsay Lohan will not have to go through too many detox programs and years of struggle before getting her life back on a healthy track.

*** For Women Only: If you would like to be part of Dr. Wish’s research for her next book on women’s love relationships and get one hour of FREE counseling, go to her website and click in the Research box in the upper right and take the online research survey. Be sure to include you contact information and the word SELFGROWTH so that Dr. Wish can contact you.

Author's Bio: 

LeslieBeth Wish is a Psychologist, Clinical Social Worker and author who is nationally recognized for her contributions to women, love, relationships, family, career, workplace, and organizations.

Additional Resources covering Family can be found at:
Website Directory for Family
Articles on Family
Products for Family
Discussion Board
Dr. LeslieBeth Wish, the Official Guide To Family