Amanda Bynes Talks Being Four Years Sober, Reflects On Past Drug Use

By Victoria Kim 11/28/18

Amanda Bynes credits her parents with helping her "get back on track" after her past issues with problematic drug use.

Amanda Bynes

Amanda Bynes is moving on from her past. The actress, now 32, was a popular target of the paparazzi during her twenties, racking up DUIs and a reputation for drug use and bizarre behavior.

But she’s now sober and studying at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) in Los Angeles. In a new interview with Paper magazine, the former Nickelodeon star relives her hectic past.

As a child, Bynes landed a place on the Nickelodeon sketch comedy show All That, alongside Kenan Thompson and Nick Cannon, and quickly became a fixture of the network. As a teenager, Bynes appeared in films like Big Fat Liar, What a Girl Wants, and She’s the Man.

Despite her success, Bynes began having issues with her self-image. She recalled being thrown “into a funk” after seeing herself in She’s the Man. In this 2006 film, Bynes plays a teenage girl who disguises herself as her brother in order to play on the boy’s soccer team. “When the movie came out and I saw it, I went into a deep depression for 4-6 months because I didn’t like how I looked when I was a boy,” she said.

Still, she continued to churn out hits on the big screen like Hairspray (2007) and Easy A (2010). But she couldn’t shake her self-image issues. While watching herself at a screening of Easy A, Bynes said, “I literally couldn’t stand my appearance in that movie and I didn’t like my performance. I was absolutely convinced I needed to stop acting after seeing it.”

Bynes “never liked the taste of alcohol” and “never really liked going out that much. I [only] started going out around 25 years old,” she said.

While she couldn’t stomach alcohol, Bynes did start using marijuana when she was 16. “Even though everyone thought I was the ‘good girl,’ I did smoke marijuana from that point on.”

However, this progressed to molly, ecstasy and Adderall. The combination of drugs that she was abusing did not agree with her.

Bynes announced that she was retiring from acting. She had no job, and no direction. “I just had no purpose in life. I’d been working my whole life and [now] I was doing nothing. I had a lot of time on my hands and I would ‘wake and bake’ and literally be stoned all day long,” she said.

This cycle of being “stuck at home, getting high, watching TV and tweeting,” eventually spiraled out of control. Bynes began “hanging out with a seedier crowd and I isolated a lot… I got really into my drug usage and it became a really dark, sad world for me.”

She explained that her bizarre behavior was truly “drug-induced, and whenever I got off of [drugs], I was always back to normal.”

With her past behind her, Bynes is now looking forward to earning her fashion degree and returning to acting. “I’ve been sober for almost four years now.” She credits her parents with “really helping me get back on track.”

“Those days of experimenting [with substances] are long over. I’m not sad about it and I don’t miss it because I really feel ashamed of how those substances made me act,” she said.

With everything she has been through, magnified by the relentless pursuit of the paparazzi, Bynes says she’s now able to live fearlessly.

“I think that’s kind of how I go about [life] now—like, what’s there to lose? I have no fear of the future. I’ve been through the worst and came out the other end and survived it so I just feel like it’s only up from here.”

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr