Jamie Lee Curtis is opening up about her battle with addiction. In Variety‘s Recovery issue, Jamie recalls how her life was before sobriety.
The actress was a functioning addict, using painkillers and alcohol only in her downtime. She kept her addiction a secret from everyone in her life, including her husband and children. In 1999, Jamie decided to get sober. Twenty years later, she still is.
There was one person close to her who knew that she at the very least dabbled in drug use. Jamie’s father, actor Tony Curtis, also battled addiction. In the interview, Jamie reveals that there was a period where she and Tony would share drugs.
She admitted to doing cocaine and freebasing with her father. While Jamie acknowledges that he, too, took on sobriety for a brief period, he didn’t have the success she did.
Jamie also acknowledges the hard work of sobriety in her interview, explaining the lengths she’s had to go to in order to stay sober while continuing her acting career.
Jamie Lee Curtis has enjoyed a career that’s spanned over 40 years, which is no small feat in Hollywood. For the last 20 years, she’s also enjoyed sobriety, an equally difficult status to maintain while in the spotlight.
The actress is opening up about her journey from addiction to sobriety as a part of Variety‘s Recovery issue. In the issue, Jamie reveals that she was able to conceal her drug use and alcoholism from everyone in her life for a decade before she was confronted.
Jamie began taking painkillers when she had plastic surgery to reduce the puffiness of her eyes. “They gave me Vicodin as a painkiller for something that wasn’t really painful,” Jamie recalls. It was her first experience with the pills.
Jamie was very regimented about her drug use, which helped her keep it a secret from the people around her. “I was the wildly controlled drug addict and alcoholic,” she noted. “I never did it when I worked. I never took drugs before 5 p.m. I never, ever took painkillers at 10 in the morning. It was that sort of late afternoon and early evening — I like to refer to it as the warm-bath feeling of an opiate.”
Jamie only shared her secret and her drugs with a familiar fellow addict, her father, Tony Curtis. “I knew my dad had an issue because I had an issue and he and I shared drugs,” she revealed. “I did cocaine and freebased once with my dad. But that was the only time I did that, and I did that with him.”
Jamie also acknowledged that sobriety was briefly able to help her father: “He did end up getting sober for a short period of time and was very active in recovery for about three years. It didn’t last that long. But he found recovery for a minute.”
When a friend and house guest spotted Jamie popping five Vicodin and chasing the pills with a swig of wine, Jamie’s addiction finally came to light. “I heard this voice: ‘You know, Jamie, I see you,” she recalled. “I see you with your little pills, and you think you’re so fabulous and so great, but the truth is you’re dead. You’re a dead woman.’”
Even though Jamie thought the time had come to do something about her decade-long addiction to painkillers, she didn’t immediately. It wasn’t until she stole pills from sister Kelly Curtis and had to come clean that she gave it any further thought.
Even still, it would be two months before her final straw. In February 1999, Jamie saw an article called “Vicodin, My Vicodin” in Esquire. Finally, she didn’t feel alone in her addiction. It inspired her to go to her first meeting. Then she told her husband. She’s been sober ever since.
Jamie remembers initially being scared that someone at a meeting would out her to the media. “I was just terrified that someone in the recovery community was going to betray my trust,” she recalled. “But it is my experience that that doesn’t really happen and that my fear was unfounded.”
She chose to come clean with it herself during an interview in Redbook when she was two years sober. While talking about how wonderful her life is and how things seemed to keep getting better, the writer asked what she attributed that to. “Well, I think the fact that I’ve been sober for almost two years is a big part of it,” she replied.
Jamie was relieved to discover that she wasn’t treated differently or professionally penalized for coming clean about getting sober. She did have to work at incorporating sobriety into her professional life, however.
“I bring sobriety with me,” Jamie explains. “I have attended recovery meetings all over this world. I was probably about nine months sober when I made Freaky Friday. I put a big sign up by the catering truck, and it said, ‘Recovery meeting in Jamie’s trailer every day.’ I left the door open and didn’t know if anybody would show up. We ended up calling it the Mobile Home Recovery Meeting. It was probably my favorite grouping of sobriety that I’ve ever participated in.”
Jamie’s dedication to sobriety is truly admirable. By sharing her story, she’s normalizing the idea of getting help and moving forward for anyone struggling with addiction. In an industry where those battles are often fought behind closed doors and not always won, it’s a monumental example of what could be.