Has Legal Intervention Saved the Lives of Amanda Bynes & Lindsay Lohan?

It wasn't until these stars were mandated to seek treatment that their downward spirals came to a halt

Today brings positive reports on both Lindsay Lohan and Amanda Bynes. In both cases, the law has recently stepped in as they wage public battles against personal demons. And on both counts, it seems to be working. 

Lohan's triumphant exit from her court-ordered 90-day rehab stint on Tuesday was met by concern, if not outright cynicism, from the media. "She'll be staying with a sober coach somewhere in Los Angeles for the next few days until she gets her bearings," reported the Hollywood Gossip. "Smart move. But will it take?"

As if in response, on Thursday a judge ordered that Lohan stay in therapy and prove a year from November that she's complied, according to TMZ. That site reports that the rehab facility strongly recommended three 50-minute sessions a week for the next 15 months. "If these sessions are not required by the court and attendance verified once a month to ensure accountability, it is a set up for almost certain failure," wrote Cliffside Malibu's founder and CEO, Richard Taite. Even if Lohan can't keep her impulses in check, the long arm of the law will, for a year, anyway. Now that's a smart move.

Thursday's news on Bynes -- whose latest dangerous incident led the state of California to commit her to a psychiatric hospital -- is that she's "doing remarkably better." Treating her for what appears to be schizophrenia, doctors have put her on a combination of medicines. "Our sources say Amanda responded quickly and dramatically," reports TMZ. "We're told in the last three days, Amanda has stopped talking to herself and stopped insulting people. To the contrary, we're told she's become downright polite, even saying 'please' and 'thank you.'  She has shown no signs of violence." 

Thursday brings an opportunity for Bynes to backslide; she has a court hearing to get out of the hospital, and there's no guaranteeing that she'll voluntarily take the meds on her own. But her doctors aren't recommending release, and they don't expect the court to allow it. Hopefully Bynes' judge will respond as Lohan's judge did, and force her to follow the doctor's orders.

Bynes' parents are still seeking a legal conservatorship over her, which is a strategy that appears to have worked for Britney Spears. After two psychiatric holds in 2008, Spears' father sought and won control over her finances. With his guidance, she regained her health, resumed visits with her children and re-hired her former manager.  

But legal experts tell the New York Daily News that taking away someone's civil rights isn't an easy prospect. “You can’t just argue that you would run someone’s life better and shazam, you get a conservatorship,” said Chris Gray, a lawyer in Ventura County.

But for many celebs, the legal system is the only thing that saved them in the end. In Robert Downey Jr.'s case, it took several court-ordered jail sentences and legally mandated rehab stints before he chose to participate in his own recovery. He told Oprah Winfrey that after his last arrest, in April of 2001, he realized that he "couldn't continue doing this." Brutal as all the legal ramifications were, they eventually led to his recovery.

Nicole Richie is also on record that her legal tangles helped push her toward recovery. When the British paper The Telegraph asked what prompted her to kick her drug addictions, she replied, ""I got tired of it. A few arrests helped. A few hours in jail will do that to you ... once you see the consequences are real."  

Let's hope that Lohan and Bynes have come to that same conclusion.

Jennifer Graham Kizer is an Atlanta-based writer who covers pop culture and watches too much TV. Luckily, iVillage gives her an excuse to watch even more. Follow her on Google+.

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