Can I call you Linds? I mean, you don't know me, and I don't know you, but I feel like I know you since I have quite literally watched you grow up in front of my eyes on television. Full disclosure: Mean Girls is, to this date, still my go-to movie whenever I'm home, bored on a Saturday night (I know that's probably a foreign concept to you, but it happens); I quote it incessantly to the point where even my friends who claim they have never seen the movie can finish the line with me. So clearly I am a fan. And I am worried about you.
I remember the better days, do you?
I'm not going to lecture you on the perils of Hollywood or the severity of addiction. I am not going to pretend to understand what you've been through or even if you really are an addict. I don't know if those "supposedly shooting heroin" snapshots from a few years ago are real; I don't know if you were truly, even if mistakenly, diagnosed with ADHD to be given Aderol; I don't know if failing a drug test is a flippant response to legal drama or the inability to take control of a disease.
What I do know is that before all of the tabloid troubles, you were an extremely gifted young actress. I am still somewhat in awe of the mastery of accents and always charmed by the genuine emotions in The Parent Trap. Actuing opposite yourself is no easy feat, and you made it seem so effortless that when I first saw the film, I believed you actually had a twin sister ala Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. What can I say? I was almost as young watching it as you were shooting it.
When you were young, pure, and somewhat still raw as an actor, you didn't seem to care (or even notice) what others were saying, and at times critiquing. The problem is, you were so young then; everyone knew the rough times were about to come. After all, tween and then teen years are hard enough for regular girls, without being under such an intense and public spotlight. Self-awareness didn't just set in; it seemed to cause a spiral. But Drew Barrymore bounced back, and I sincerely hope you will, too.
In my not-so humble outsider opinion, the first step to getting your life back on track is not even necessarily rehab (though the kind of therapy work that comes along with rehab would definitely be beneficial, and I'm not saying you should skip out on it altogether). But instead, I implore you to take a good, hard look around yourself. Consider the situations you find yourself in that get you into trouble. And I'm not just talking hitting parked cars or taking mugshots trouble. But the nights that seem uneventful because they don't end in a fury of flashbulbs but still with you waking up the next morning not remembering what happened or too weak to get up without some kind of medicating.
Who was around you then? Who was there at the start of the night, stoking the coals, making you want to drink so much you have memory lapses or use heavily narcotics to create falsely blissful feelings? And who was there as the night went on, handing you the glasses or the pills or whatever, enabling your poor decision-making? Consider the faces and then erase the names from your Blackberry or iPhone or whatever gadget you use. Cut the negativity and the bad influences and the false friends (or family) out of your life. It may sound harsh, especially the family part, but you have to be selfish. You have to put yourself first to get healthy and to find happiness.
Once that step is done, rehabbing will automatically kick in. Because rehab isn't truly about living in a sober facility, detoxing the body of chemicals. It is about removing the compulsive tick within the mind that tries to have you "solve" your problems with overindulgences. It is about learning to look inside, to let go, to face whatever it was you were trying to avoid with excess. It is about getting you healthy. All of you.
No one expects you to be the freckle-faced precocious kid forever. The need to expand and branch out into more adult roles is normal, expected, and welcome. But in detoxing your mind, you may also find you regain the ability to be more discerning with what roles you take. You won't have those chattering voices in your ear anymore (from bad representation or frenemies or whoever-- because, remember, you've already completed step one of removing such from your life), justifying taking any piece of garbage just because "it's nice to be wanted" and to have the cash to keep the party going endlessly. You will be able to look inside yourself and really think about the acting muscles you want to stretch, the stories you want to tell, the legacy you want to leave.
And might I make a suggestion? I need more movies like Mean Girls in my DVD library, and I'm willing to bet lots of other young women agree. It is witty, clever, extremely well put-together, and yet still manages to have real heart and a positive message. Furthermore, the set seemed to be filled with genuinely caring people who rallied around each other and became real friends. And I'd be willing to bet that's exactly the kind of environment you need, too.