Video: Kristen Johnston's Gutsy Suboxone Admission

By Luke Walker 12/06/11

The Exes and Third Rock from the Sun star tells Letterman how the controversial treatment helped her kick Vicodin.

Johnston was hooked on Vicodin and booze.
Photo via

Kristen Johnston, star of '90s sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun and films like Austin Powers Goldmember, introduced America's late-night TV audience to a new word on the Tonight show with David Letterman: Suboxone, the prescription drug taken by many addicts to get and stay clean of opiate-based painkillers and heroin. While discussing her new memoir about her Vicodin addiction Guts, Johnston typically pulled no punches in detailing how her abuse of the pain drug—along with booze ("because I'm from Wisconson," she quipped)—made her stomach burst, endangering her life even as she hit bottom and set off down the road to soberville. "Now I do say no," Johnston told Letterman to audience applause. Then her host showed off his big vocabulary by asking, as if on cue, “Did you take any sort of phar-ma-co-lo-gical medications to help you get off the, ah...” Johnston looked surprised for a moment—whether at the specificity of the question or at the fact that he pronounced the word correctly—but she proceeded to boldly go where no celebrity had gone before, at least in a public forum. “Yes, I did actually. I had Suboxone. It really helped me,” she said. The moment passed so nonchalantly that you would never have known that Suboxone, used effectively as detox and maintenance therapy, is the target of intense stigma in the recovery community, with abstinence-only stalwarts like A.A. and Dr. Drew flailing it (along with methadone and many other phar-ma-co-lo-gicals) as a "chemical crutch." Johnston's coming out about how Suboxone supports sobriety took—dare we say it?—guts.

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