7 Reasons Why Lindsay's Recovery Plan Is A Train Wreck

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I was excited for the premiere of Lindsay on OWN. I love the network, love Oprah, and fully believe in an individual's ability to rewrite her story. And so it came as a surprise when, by the end of the show, I found myself staring at my twitter feed, which was devoid of my usual positive-isms and instead showed an hour’s worth of 140-character rants.

Lindsay is trying to change her life. The show documents her discharge from rehab through her transition to Manhattan. It's got the makings of a real breakthrough - Lindsay's getting a chance to be sober, to change her reputation, and to control the direction of the next chapter of her life.  She's even brought a sober coach from her Malibu rehab to New York to help support her sobriety.

Sounds great, right? Except that it’s a fucking train wreck that even today, a full 12 hours since it aired, has me jacked up. There are so many problems with her sobriety plan (if you can call it a plan) that even a rookie recovery counselor would pause and wonder what planet of recovery this descends from. Below is an incomplete list of my objections:

  1. Lindsay wants a fresh start, which is why she moves to Manhattan. In addiction, we call this pulling a geography. People who tend to externalize their problems (which Lindsay admits to having a history of doing) also tend to believe that if they only lived somewhere other than the place that they currently reside, all their problems would vanish. It’s like a parent blaming a teenager’s problems on the teen’s friends. If the teen (or Lindsay) were to make some internal changes, there would be no need for an external makeover. Nonetheless, Lindsay, welcome to New York.
  2. Lindsay’s rehab had no business discharging her without a real discharge plan. Let me be clear: This plan should have included Lindsay immediately going into an intensive outpatient program, even here in New York (we have more of them than we need, particularly for the rich).
  3. Because of the above-referenced ‘oversight,’ Lindsay finds herself 30 days out of rehab WITHOUT A SPONSOR. This is unheard of. And beyond unacceptable. She should have had an interim sponsor within 2-3 days of arriving in New York. It’s a recipe for relapse. But her ‘sober coach’ doesn’t seem to have a problem with that. More on him later.
  4. Lindsay’s major task upon coming to New York should have been anchoring herself to her recovery. Instead, it’s finding an apartment, which again, is a huge problem – a distraction, if you will, from what her priority should be. She should have been discharged to a sober living facility – again, which we have a plethora of in this city, and FYI, they cater to the rich (and famous), which are the only people who can afford these facilities. That she’s traipsing around with her entourage is reminiscent of days gone by. If it doesn’t look different, it isn’t really different. You can see this, right? And you’re not even an addictions counselor.
  5. The entourage is a problem. They are people in her employ, and they appear to be the only people she’s exposed to. Understandably, they are all hesitant to (read: emotionally incapable of) call(ing) her out on her behaviors, most egregiously, HER SOBER COACH (code for adult babysitter with absolutely no mandatory qualifications) who is likely being paid thousands of dollars a day to smell every drink before she ingests it, and who either isn’t skilled enough to call her out on what appears to be her hair-trigger temper, or is so terrified of being relieved of his services that he vacillates between being mute and robotically validating her feelings in an effort to deescalte her. If I were him, I’d be suicidal after that first episode, and I’d be looking for a new career.
  6. Lindsay can’t go to meetings because of the paparazzi. This may sound like bullshit to you, but it makes sense to me. AA meetings are public – open to anyone – and if Lindsay walks into one, 40 paparazzi will follow, which would cause the meeting to implode, for obvious reasons. With that said, THIS WAS COMPLETELY PREDICTABLE. This is Lindsay Lohan we’re talking about. That her sober coach didn’t anticipate this little roadblock simply underscores the extent to which he was not qualified to deal with her, and points back to this ridiculous rehab’s discharge plan. Note to viewers: While it is beneath me to disparage a treatment facility by name, this particular facility advertises during Lindsay. Get the name and stay away from this spa, I mean, rehab. In any event, this colossal failure results in Lindsay finding herself some 30 days out of rehab without regular meetings to attend – and it could have been avoided if she’d been living in a sober living facility or attending an IOP, because in both instances, meetings are held in the privacy of the facility for just exactly these reasons.
  7. I won’t even go into the fact that there is no mention of a therapist (yet – maybe that will come) or any qualified person guiding the ship of Lindsay. This is like her childhood revisited: No proper adult supervision and we wonder why she’s sailing aimlessly into dangerous waters. I honestly want to give this kid a hug. The system has failed her, and this makes me angry.

Treating addiction is not rocket science. You need to go to meetings. A lot of fucking meetings. You need a sponsor. Like, the minute you leave rehab.  You need to be in constant contact with other recovering addicts. And your sober coach needs to be one member of a larger treatment team consisting of licensed professionals – not a standalone guy dealing with a young adult who is in dire need of a grownup who isn’t afraid of her.

Holiday Survival Guide

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Welcome back to the Holiday Edition of Tuesday’s Tips. For the entire month of December, I’m dedicating every Tuesdayto dispensing 1 tip designed to help YOU survive the holidays.

Last week we talked about the importance of self-care in managing stress. I expect that you’ve amped it up in the past week. If you missed last week’s blog, I’ve linked to it here.

This week I want to talk about boundaries. I’m talking to those of you who ascribe to a peace at any price philosophy. This steadfast commitment to pleasing those around you is the surest way to invite holiday heartache, so listen up:

You can’t say YES to every person, every request and every invitation. And I know that you don’t have the vaguest idea of how to begin saying NO, so I’m giving you a script:

This week, you are obligated to respond to a request, a person or an invitation by saying the following:  “I would love to but unfortunately I can’t.” That’s all. No detailed explanation of why because it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you communicate that you wish you could have [fill in blank here].

I want to hear how you do with this challenge. Let me know on Facebook or Twitter.

Surviving Holiday Stress

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Welcome to Tuesday’s Tips, the one day a week when I dispense useful, actionable and empowering tips!

The holiday season is upon us, Folks. How do I know? Because I can’t fit another client into my schedule, that’s how. Did you know that shrinks have a ‘busy season’? We do, and from mid October through the end of the year, I have as many client hours as I generally have in 6 months.

Holidays stress people out. Whether it’s the additional responsibility of gift buying, impending family visits, memories of loved ones no longer with us or a still-mending-heart following a breakup, November and December are the most stressful months of the year.

This year, I’m dedicating every Tuesday to dispensing 1 tip designed to help YOU survive the holidays.

SELF-CARE. Don’t roll your eyes at me. I know it’s a lame-sounding term. It’s also essential to increase it if you want to compensate for the stress of the holidays.

Today, I want you to commit to the following:

Increase your water intake.  Technically, you’re supposed to drink half your body weight in ounces of water a day. So if you weigh 120 pounds, that’s 60 ounces of water daily. That’s 3 ½ medium-sized bottles of water. Yes, it’s a lot, but did you know that roughly 30% of anxiety and depressive symptoms can be attributed to dehydration? If you’re thirsty, it’s too late. You should be drinking so much water that your pee has no color and you should never feel thirst. PS it will also cut down on your hunger – bonus.

Adhere to a workout regime. Don’t wait until January 1st. That’s such a fucking cliché. Be unique. Find a friend who will commit with you to working out 3 times a week through the end of the year. When all is said and done, you’ll have created a healthy habit for stress relief and you’ll have managed to navigate the holidays without packing on an extra 10 pounds.

I’ll see you next Tuesday for another tip designed to help YOU survive the holidays.