New studies in neuroscience have shown that the part of the brain that regulates impulse control — or mature judgment — is not fully developed until the age of 25. When exposed to multimillion-dollar movie contracts, "unchecked kids are not able to handle these things," Fishman said.
Beverly Hills, Calif., celebrity psychologist Jenn Berman, who wrote the "A-Z Guide to Raising Happy Competent Kids," suggests Lohan's dysfunctional family and role as a child star have created much of the trauma in her life.
"People who don't have the tools to cope turn to food, alcohol, drugs and compulsive behavior," she said.
As for those who say Lohan has been spiraling out of control to get attention, Berman said, "I don't believe anyone does this consciously, … If anything it's a cry for help that comes from a very unconscious place."
"When the child starts to earn more money than the parent and supports the family, there is a shift in power," Berman said. "The parent is on the child's payroll and loses power. That makes the life of the child boundary-less."
If Lohan does not seek help, said Berman, "she will ultimately self-destruct."
"Drew Barrymore really got it together," Berman said of the former child star who nearly lost her career over drugs. "But she had a strong sense of self and was a real fighter."
The fact that Lohan has "slipped back" after two visits to rehab is "the nature of addiction," according to Daniel Gatlin, director of Renaissance Malibu, where Baldwin was treated.
"You are very raw and you need to learn new skills," said Gatlin. "It's like starting over. A child stumbles and falls and yet you don't say he is never going to walk again."
Having a support system during the transition back to a sober, normal life is also essential.
Scotty Brown, a 46-year-old Malibu real estate agent, helped guide Baldwin through his recovery.
"He just called me at 1:30 in the morning and he's doing great," said Brown.
Brown, a recovering alcoholic who has been sober for 23 years, was not surprised to hear that Lohan was drunk again, even though he had seen her sober at a party given by Paris Hilton on the Fourth of July.
"I think she has an addiction problem," said Brown, whose parents locked him up in a psychiatric ward in 1984 when he hit bottom.
"When someone becomes famous when they are growing up, using drugs helps with their fame," said Brown. "They are afraid of giving it up and losing everything. But it backfires. It's hard to see what life will be like without it."
Brown, who has mentored other celebrities with drug problems, like Scott Weiland of the Stone Temple Pilots, said, "You've got to want it and be sick and tired of being sick and tired."
"There can be no intervention if you're not ready," he said. "This may be the bottom for Lindsay. Rehab may give her the tools, but she's just got to surrender."
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, visit The National Institutes of Health's National Institute on Drug Abuse.