Eliza Dushku Details Her Addiction, Recovery At Youth Summit

By Paul Gaita 03/09/17

The Buffy The Vampire Slayer star began using drugs at the age of 14.

Eliza Dushku

Actress Eliza Dushku spoke in revealing terms about her history of substance abuse and her recovery at a youth summit in New Hampshire on March 7.

The Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Banshee star has talked in elliptical terms about her past, but her talk before a crowd of 8,000 middle- and high-school students at the Youth Summit on Opioid Awareness in Manchester, New Hampshire—an event sponsored by the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation—was a frank discussion of her experiences with alcohol and drugs, and the personal toll it took on her and her family, including a period in which she was barred from seeing her niece due to her addiction.

"Something a lot of people don't know about me is that I am an alcoholic and I was a drug addict for a lot of years," said Dushku. "You hear people say 'I am that' because I am that, and I'm always going to be that, but the difference between me and an alcoholic or drug addict that still drinks and does drugs is that I am sober."

Dushku began using drugs at the age of 14, and like many addicts, found the experience initially positive, especially in regard to her emotions. "I loved the first time I took a drug because I loved how it made me feel. I loved the way it made me not feel, and I didn't have to feel," she shared. "It was fun and I loved it, until it wasn't."

Dushku's drug and alcohol use soon spiraled out of control. "I'm a good person, but when I did drugs and I drank, I didn't make good decisions," she said. "Drugs didn't love me. They didn't love my family. They definitely didn't love my friends that died. I have a lot of friends that are dead."

Eventually, Dushku's family informed her that she would not be allowed to visit her beloved niece, Sofia, who was a toddler at the time. The ultimatum gave Dushku the impetus she needed to seek sobriety. "I got sober at first for my family, because I had gotten to a point where I felt so sick about myself," she recalled. "I didn't like myself but I love my family."

Dushku has been sober since 2008, and in addition to her acting career, has returned to college at the age of 36. Her path to this point in life has been a challenging one, but as she told her audience at the summit, "Today, I'm sober for me, and I'm sober for you. Drugs and alcohol are powerful, but we are more powerful."

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, Amazon.com and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.