"You see he's smiling. But look in his eyes. There's fear there," she says of his mug shot

By Howard Breuer
January 24, 2014 08:50 AM
Credit: Valerie Macon/Getty; Christopher Polk/AMA2012/Gett

Mackenzie Phillips, a former teen TV star from an iconic music family, has been to rehab 11 times and last relapsed in 2008. She tells PEOPLE she’s concerned if people are laughing at Justin Bieber‘s DUI arrest, and she’s not so sure he’s as happy in the mugshot as he might seem.

“You can’t know what someone’s thinking,” she says. “It could be absolute fear and terror, especially if he was still under the influence of whatever he says he was under the influence of.”

“You look at that mug shot, and you see he’s smiling. But look in his eyes. There’s fear there, I think.”

Phillips, 54, the daughter of John Phillips from the Mamas & the Papas, says poking fun at people under the influence deters them from seeking help.

“The more people that laugh and giggle and make fun of a wasted celebrity who’s in handcuffs, the fewer people are going to go out and find recovery for themselves because that’s where they get their nods for behavior, what people are going to make fun of,” she says.

“The more we as a society make fun of people who are having severe difficulties and are abusing substances and alcohol, it trivializes a life-and-death battle that [some] people are going through.”

And it’s not okay just because he’s a star, she adds.

“People say it’s a Hollywood problem, but you know these are people’s children, too,” says Phillips. “And the prescription-drug epidemic problem is out of control. We just hear about it more when it’s a Justin Bieber or a Lindsay Lohan and I try to have some compassion.”