Sara Bellum
August 22 2013

“I’m an addict,” Lindsay Lohan told Oprah in a recent interview.

The actress is speaking publicly about her commitment to recovery from drug and alcohol abuse—after 6 visits to rehab, a stint in jail, 2 drunk driving arrests, and 7 car accidents. This time, LiLo insists, she’s going to stay away from drugs and alcohol.

Beating addiction isn’t easy. Addiction is a disease that causes people to continually seek and use drugs—even when they know the results are dangerous and drug use can change the brain. In fact, the definition of addiction is that people continue to use drugs despite negative consequences.

Many factors may have led Lindsay to use drugs and get addicted. Her family life wasn’t easy: Her parents divorced, and her father has said he’s an alcoholic and spent time in jail for various crimes. Though it’s not a guarantee, children of parents who are addicted to drugs are more likely to become addicted themselves.

Lindsay has openly admitted that her home life was quite chaotic. She thinks drinking alcohol helped to recreate the chaos of her family as she got older. Oprah asked, “Do you think you are—or were—addicted to chaos?”

“I think so. It was a comfortable chaos for me,” Lindsay replied.

People can’t actually be “addicted” to chaos the way they are addicted to drugs—Oprah’s phrase was a figure of speech. But researchers have found that a chaotic home environment “primes the brain” for addiction. Lots of studies show that a challenging family life mixed with drugs and alcohol makes quitting drugs difficult, and not just for celebrities.

As a young movie star, Lindsay moved to Hollywood on her own. Without a stable family, she felt all the ups and downs that every teen goes through. And, she felt the pressure of living under the spotlight of celebrity.

The good news is, drug abuse treatment can be effective when the person is ready to make a change and has the support of friends and family.

Today, Lindsay says she is on the road to recovery. She acknowledged she didn’t like what drinking did to her. “I’m in a different headspace now,” the actress said.

The actress is not alone. It is common for people to fall back into drug use. Relapse rates for addiction are a lot like relapse rates for other diseases, like asthma or high blood pressure. Relapse doesn’t mean treatment failed. Learning to live without drugs or alcohol takes time and practice.

Do you think Lindsay’s on the right track this time? What advice would you give a friend who is struggling with addiction? Tell us in comments.

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