Mischa Barton “Downward Spiral” Strained Friendship With Nicole Richie

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Mischa Barton’s lifestyle of drugs and wild partying has ruined her friendship with socialite Nicole Richie, celebrity tattles tell PEOPLE.

The former star of The O.C. was placed on involuntary psychiatric hold at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles last Thursday after suffering a meltdown and calling cops to her Los Angeles home the night before to attend to a “medical issue.”

Mischa has slammed whispers that said “medical issue” was sparked by a three-day cocaine binge — but Mischa’s pals tell a different story.

A former friend says the 23-year-old actress has alienated herself from a number of her friends — including mommy of two Nicole Richie — in recent months. The celebrity weekly alleges the pair drifted apart after a party in 2007, during which Mischa overdosed and had to be hospitalized.

An ex-pal tells PEOPLE: “In the last few years, her dark side has really come out. Her friends, like Nicole, want to be supportive but they really can’t be around her too much. She’s too volatile. It makes us sad, but we’re also like, ‘Pull it together and get help already.”

The source adds: “Most of her Hollywood friends have distanced themselves from her (since that party). After that happened, her friends thought it would be a wake-up call, but it wasn’t. Nicole is focused on motherhood and her family. (She) considers (Mischa) a dear friend but she’s also a mother who can’t be around too much negative, unsafe behavior. Mischa is one of the reasons that Nicole is mostly with her other mom friends these days, not the party girls.”