Billed as a no-hold-barred interview, Lindsay Lohan visited "Today" on Thursday (March 1), and told Matt Lauer she is clean, sober and ready to get back to work. The actress, who is hosting "Saturday Night Live" this weekend for the first time since 2006, revealed that her most recent round of legal troubles — which began in January 2011 when she violated her probation (related to a 2007 DUI) by wearing a $2,500 necklace out of a Venice, California, boutique (she returned the necklace, claiming it was an accident) — brought her to a breaking point. "This last whirlwind of experiences I've gone through this last year and a half, I've kind of just taken a step back and been like, 'I'm not doing what I love to do and I need to find a way to kind of find that balance again,' " she said.

Discussing her last "Today" appearance in 2006, Lauer reminded the actress that she'd dodged several questions about her alleged partying at the time, and Lohan confessed she was in denial that she had a problem. "It's a scary thing to have to express to people," she admitted. "I wasn't as comfortable with myself then. It was a fear factor that I had about what was really going on. I had to get that wakeup call." Lohan explained that one of the key changes she's made in her recovery has been surrounding herself with the right people. She copped to being "ignorant towards the fact that maybe I should not go out all the time" and that, at 25, the time has come for her to "grow up and take care of myself." Saying her hard-partying days are behind her, and "I regret the choices that I've made," she said she's learned a great deal over the past several years. "I don't need to see any more negative stuff. I don't need to put myself in those places anymore," she said. When Lauer said he thought of Lohan when news of Whitney Houston's death surfaced because both stars struggled with substance abuse, Lohan said she felt the parallel was "a scary, morbid thing to discuss," but agreed that substance abuse does rob artists of their talent: "You can completely fall into that world, and that's a scary thing," she said. "I have experienced things like that, and I have friends that have experienced things like that. It's a really sad factor that can come into play in people's lives sometimes, if you don't recognize it. A lot of people don't like to. I think I did that for a long time. I think I was scared and didn't want to admit it to myself, let alone anyone else." Lohan shared that her return to form is not the sort of thing she can rush, telling Lauer she is ready to put her head down and get back to work. "I think that takes time and I think that it's actions," the actress said. "People can say things all they want, but I still need to go through the process of proving myself, with 'SNL,' being on time, keeping my ... stuff together." The actress said she's ready to tackle her past issues when she hit's "SNL" this weekend, saying, "I've already pitched that!" She even told Lauer that she got clearance from her legal counsel to make those jokes because she doesn't want to sabotage the requirements she's "so close" to completing. She also praised Judge Stephanie Sautner, who she said has "been really wonderful to me and helped me a lot," and the workers at the Los Angeles County morgue, where she has been doing her community service. "Everyone there has been really kind to me," Lohan said. "It's been a learning experience, and I'm glad that I experienced it. I'm grateful that I've learned from it. It's helped me; it's humbling." Lauer seemed impressed with Lohan's progress, telling her she seemed as "confident and together as I've see you in a long time," and asked if, as so many might believe, her current success and sobriety might be temporary. "That's not what I want for me. I don't want to go back to that place," she said. "I want to move forward with my life. I want to continue to move forward and in the right direction, and I want to keep growing in the right ways." Discussing her upcoming role in an Elizabeth Taylor biopic, she promised, "I will not let anyone down — especially myself." Share your thoughts on LiLo's "Today" interview in the comments below.