Kim Richards' Latest Arrest: What Is a 5150 Hold?

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Real Housewives of Beverly Hills
star Kim Richards has fought a public battle with addiction. From on-screen meltdowns to repeated rehab stays and relapses to her most recent arrest for shoplifting, the former child actress has watched her struggle with alcoholism play out in a very public forum.

WATCH: Source: Kim Richards' Family Believes a 5150 Hold Will Help the 'Real Housewives' Star

"Kim is clearly in crisis because we find that she's drinking again, she's getting arrested, she's been found to be shoplifting," psychotherapist Dr. Robi Ludwig told ET on Wednesday. "These are all indications that Kim is not doing well and that she's deteriorating or decompensating."

Ludwig explained to ET that Richards' cycle of addiction, rehab, and relapse is not uncommon for someone who has not found a solid plan for sobriety.

"Anyone who watches the Beverly Hills Housewives knows that Kim is really the person who is very much in denial about her alcoholism," she said. "And she hasn't quite found a strategy to stay sober. And so what we know as psychotherapists and people in the mental health field is that she's probably trying to self-medicate depression or anxiety, and she's going about it in a way that isn't healthy and is self-destructive."

NEWS: 'Real Housewives' Star Kim Richards Arrested for Shoplifting

After Richards' latest arrest, a source close to her family tells ET that they are considering a 5150 hold on the former Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star. Ludwig detailed what that could mean for the reality star.

"A 5150 is basically when someone is hospitalized on an involuntary basis," Ludwig explained. 'Which simply means that they did not sign themselves into the hospital and they cannot sign themselves out. They're basically there involuntarily and why this can help certain people is because it keeps them in the hospital longer and helps them to get treated longer. It's usually a person who is in a sicker state that ends up in a hospital involuntarily because other people have decided that they can't make decisions on their own behalf and they usually are considered a danger to themselves or others at least for a period of time."

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Ludwig believes that a 5150 hold could be beneficial for Richards as it would keep her in treatment for an extended period of time and prevent her from leaving rehab early and succumbing to the stressors in her day-to-day life. But it won’t be an easy process.

"Very often the person who is involuntarily committed to a hospital, they get very angry with their family members," Ludwig admitted. "They almost feel like they're being put in prison, that their will and their freedom is being robbed from them. So it can create a lot of chaos and sometimes family members aren't always in agreement about whether the person needs to be in the hospital involuntarily or not. But, it basically creates some bad feelings for a period of time until the person gets well."

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