In a recent interview with The Addiction Advisor, actress Lindsay Lohan’s dad, Michael Lohan, said he feels responsible for his daughter’s drug addiction.
“People ask me all the time, ‘do I feel responsible for Lindsay’s addiction?’ I can’t answer for Dina [ex-wife], but myself yes, and the reason why is because of the divorce,” Lohan said. “I think if we would have handled our divorce differently…things would have turned out differently… I just really believe that if you’re going to go through something, go through it the right way so [your kids] aren’t affected.”
Lohan and his ex-wife, Dina, married in 1985 and finalized their divorce in 2007 after a long, well-publicized battle in the courts. He says divorce is likely one of the biggest drivers in drug addiction for children and if problems from a divorce are unresolved or dramatized, things will get worse.
Research shows that when children do not cope well with divorce, they can lose all sense of security and the pattern can follow them for years. According to WebMD, children of divorced parents have nearly triple the emotional problems, drug use, and arrests, and are more likely to drop out of school and to have unwanted pregnancies.
How can parents help make sure their children avoid addictive behaviors during and after a divorce? Lohan suggests that better co-parenting, keeping your issues private, and not involving the kids can make a difference.
Gretchen Crum, LCSW, a psychotherapist in the Child and Family Counseling Center at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, says parents should also not deny the reality of the situation.
“If the parents don’t talk about it all, kids get anxious,” Crum said. “They don’t know what’s going on. Kids need all the right information. They also need to know that the turmoil is temporary, that it will be resolved, that things will be okay, even though we will live in different houses, they will see both parents.”
Lohan says parents can help avoid addictive behaviors in children by setting a good example and not using drugs themselves.
“I think more people should hold themselves accountable because parents are drinking a lot around kids and being wasted around kids and they think that’s okay,” Lohan said. “I never, not once, did I ever drink around my kids. If I drank or if I was out with my friends from Wall Street, I wouldn’t come home. Was that right? No, because daddy didn’t show up after work that night. But it’s better than showing up wasted.”
Another way parents can help their children overcome their drug addiction and curb the use of addictive substances, Lohan says, is by making sure they do not enable it. He says that at one time Lindsay was seeing multiple physicians in California and New York, all of whom were writing prescriptions for her, for the same medications. Lohan says he went to his attorney as well as the attorney general, which then launched a task force that eventually arrested two of the doctors and removed the license from one.
“You have to practice tough love,” Lohan said. “You have to cut them off and kind of put them in a corner. I mean if they’re out and they say, ‘I’m stuck and I have nowhere to go,’ you can’t say that you’ll get them a hotel room because most likely they’re not going to stay in the hotel room. They’re going to use the money from letting people stay there and use it for drugs. I’ve seen it all, believe me.”
Along with not enabling a drug addiction, Lohan mentioned that giving loving advice is a more effective approach with children rather than telling them what to do. Two-way conversations that include advice and relatable examples can be had with respect and compassion rather than force and for the purpose of inflicting fear of your authority. These will go much further with your kids and will feel much less like you are talking down to them or that you do not trust them to make good decisions.
“Don’t tell kids what to do. Advise them,” Lohan says, “Be more gentle about it. Don’t say do this and don’t do that because we all know like with my own family and with family members, if you tell someone not to do something, especially kids, they are going to do the opposite. It’s going to push them further away. I’ve learned this through trial and error when I advised or had an issue with Lindsay. When I advised Lindsay and said, ‘Honey don’t you think this is going to be lead to something else? Look at what’s happened to Amy Winehouse and with Heath Ledger. When I advised her, I set an example for her, rather than told her what to do.”
Lohan says his relationship with Lindsay is now better and he speaks to her at least once a week. He says he has now been sober for 11 years. Lindsay is also now sober and is currently living abroad in Europe.
“She’s a grown woman now and she’s making much better choices than she did when she was living in the United States, surrounded by all the wrong people,” Lohan said. “I’m very proud of her and I love her, as I do with all my children, with all my heart.”