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Lindsay Lohan and the failed alcohol test -- why is trouble so hard to shake?

June 23, 2011|By Amina Khan, Los Angeles Times / for the Booster Shots blog
  • Actress Lindsay Lohan arrives in court in Los Angeles. Lohan, currently serving a home detention sentence, was ordered back to court on an allegation she violated her probation in a drunk-driving case, a court official said.
Actress Lindsay Lohan arrives in court in Los Angeles. Lohan, currently… (Lucy Nicholson / Reuters )

Lindsay Lohan's court appearance Thursday after allegedly failing an alcohol test June 13 highlighted the fact that some starlets like Lohan, who was convicted of drunk driving in 2007, can't seem to stay out of trouble.

Whatever the court decides, the truth is that alcohol misuse (and relapse) is a hard thing to shake, and the reasons are both social as well as physiological.

Take a 2008 study in the journal Child Development, which surveyed 6,544 North Carolina teens and found that they were more likely to misuse alcohol when exposed to alcohol use by others. No surprise, then, that some young celebrities find drugs and alcohol hard to escape. The study also found that the less parental supervision there was, the more teens were influenced by peers' drinking habits. That's a worrisome finding, given the apparent freedom from stricture many of these starlets enjoy. 

The glamorizing effect of stardom doesn't help either, as I mentioned a couple of days ago in relation to "Jackass" star Ryan Dunn's apparently alcohol-related death in a high-speed car crash.

To compound the issue, a 2006 study published in the journal Pediatrics found that people who become dependent on alcohol under the age of 25 are less likely ever to seek treatment than those whose drinking problems begin further into adulthood. The study speaks to a certain mental unwillingness to address the issue and change, if the problem sets in at a younger age. Even those young celebrities who enter rehab are often pressured into doing so, rather than self-motivated.

Young alcohol dependents are also likely to fall off the wagon multiple times, according to the study, and for longer periods of time -- which sounds about right, given that many of these young starlets seem to spend more time in the media spotlight for booze-related bad behavior or rehab than not.  

It's also the little things. According to a 2008 study on rats in the journal Biological Psychiatry, the mere sight, smell and taste of an abstinent alcoholic's favorite drink can trigger a relapse.

If you believe you or a loved one is suffering from alcohol dependence or approaching a relapse, the Mayo Clinic gives a rundown on treatments and drugs, and LiveStrong lists a few telltale signs.

Follow me on Twitter @LAT_aminakhan.

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