Drew Barrymore Talks Past Drug Use: Cocaine Is My Worst Nightmare

By David Konow 09/18/18

The "Santa Clarita Diet" actress got candid about her past drug use on Norm Macdonald's new Netflix talk show.

Drew Barrymore

Drew Barrymore’s past struggles with substance misuse are well-known. After she became a superstar with the success of E.T., she followed the path of many child stars, battling addiction which threatened to end her career.

Now in a recent appearance on Norm Macdonald’s new talk show Norm Macdonald has a Show, Barrymore says she has no desire to go back to those days.

When Macdonald asked Barrymore if she missed cocaine, she emphatically replied, “Oh, God. It’s been a very long time, but no. Nothing would make me have a panic attack and seem like a bigger nightmare.”

Looking back in hindsight, Barrymore said her early fame was “like a recipe for disaster. You know what’s exciting? I got my s— over with at, like 14. Like, midlife crisis, institutionalized, blacklisted, no family. Got it done. And then [I] got into the cycle of being my own parent. It’s sad that there’s this weird alchemy about kids doing this line of work that f— all of them up, and I’m no different.”

Barrymore admitted she still drinks, telling Macdonald, “I enjoy my life and get out of my own head. It’s not that I’m this militant person of clarity and presence but [cocaine] is like my worst nightmare right now.”

Substance abuse ran in Barrymore’s family. Her father battled alcoholism and eventually wound up homeless. Her grandfather was Hollywood legend—and legendary drinker—John Barrymore. Drew had already taken a trip to rehab by the age of 12, survived a suicide attempt, and was then institutionalized for 18 months.

She described her lowest point to The Guardian. “Just knowing that I really was alone… My mom locked me up in an institution. But it did give an amazing discipline. It was like serious recruitment training and boot camp, and it was horrible and dark and very long-lived, a year and a half, but I needed it.”

Barrymore told Howard Stern in a past interview, “It was a very severe, locked down, no-Hollywood-rehab-30-day-Malibu-beachside-bullshit [place]… They saved my life.”

After getting back into civilization, Barrymore lived with David Crosby, who was also in recovery, for two months, then worked a number of jobs before she rebuilt her acting career. She’s currently starring in the Netflix series Santa Clarita Diet.

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In addition to contributing for The Fix, David Konow has also written for Esquire, Deadline, LA Weekly, Village Voice, The Wrap, and many other publications and websites. He is also the author of the three decade history of heavy metal, Bang Your Head (Three Rivers Press), and the horror film history Reel Terror (St Martins Press). Find David on LinkedIn and Facebook.