Troubled pop star Britney Spears has reportedly been discharged from a Los Angeles hospital she was admitted to on Friday over apparent substance abuse.

The 26-year-old singer was taken to the Cedars-Sinai medical centre in an ambulance on Friday after being wheeled out of her Beverly Hills home in a stretcher. The incident came after police cars arrived at her house following the star's refusal to obey a court order and hand over custody of her children to her ex-husband.

Spears was kept in what People magazine has reported as a "mental lockdown" at the hospital for a scheduled 72 hours, but was discharged after spending one-and-a-half days in treatment. The Toxic star left the centre via an underground tunnel apparently to avoid the paparazzi gathered outside for news about her health.

Meanwhile, renowned psychologist Dr Phil Mcgraw, who has his own television talk show, said the decision to release the star was "one of the worst decisions that could have been made".

The therapist, who spent an hour with Spears at the hospital, said he was very worried about the star's health.

Speaking to Entertainment Tonight, McGraw said: "My meeting with Britney and some family members this morning in her room at Cedars leaves me convinced more than ever that she is in dire need of both medical and psychological intervention."

Yesterday, Spears was banned from seeing her two children by a court in Los Angeles, when the judge ordered that the pop star's former spouse should have "sole legal and physical custody" of the couple's two sons.

The ruling means the singer will not have access to two-year-old Sean Preston or one-year-old Jayden James until the court meets again. The singer and her former spouse are involved in legal proceedings to determine the time each one of them spends with their two children.

Previously in the case, a court in Los Angeles ended Spears' joint custody arrangement after she missed a drugs test and media reports raised questions about her lifestyle.

05/01/2008 09:58:17