Jamie Lee Curtis Reflects On 18 Years Of Sobriety

By Victoria Kim 07/25/17

The iconic actress credits a magazine article for inspiring her journey to recovery.

Jamie Lee Curtis

Actress Jamie Lee Curtis isn't shy about her sobriety. In fact, she calls it "the greatest thing I'll ever do in my life."

Curtis sat down with Chris Connelly at this year's TriBeCa Film Festival back in April, where she was promoting the documentary Hondros, about a photojournalist who was killed in 2011 while covering the conflict in Libya.

The True Lies actress reflected on the April 2016 opioid overdose death of Prince. She said she could relate to the feeling of craving her next fix—a prescription. "I know what that felt like. I remember the feeling of wanting that prescription," she told Connelly.

"We have an opioid epidemic around the world, but predominantly here in America, predominantly in...small towns" like West Virginia, Appalachia, and Boston. "It's an epidemic. And I don't pretend to have the answers for it."

"I was an opioid addict, hidden. [I] only got more famous and more attention during it, and it was one of the most humiliating, shameful secrets [I've had]...It was horrible. And I'm very lucky."

By openly discussing her past opioid addiction, she says there's a greater chance of reaching at least one person who may be feeling helpless and alone. The actress experienced this for herself. She credits an article in Esquire magazine written by Tom Chiarella called "Vicodin, My Vicodin," in which he outed himself as having a dependence on opioids. In the article, Chiarella describes being able to locate every individual Vicodin pill hidden in his home. 

This was a wakeup call for Curtis. "That got me sober," she declared. "I went, 'Oh...I'm not alone. Someone else, a respected journalist, is outing himself in this magazine article to his doctors, his wife, his friends, his business, his family, his kids. He could never go back. The minute he handed that in, it was over."

The actress has been doing her part by candidly discussing her drug use and her 18 years of sobriety. "If one person listening to this understands...Maybe if they get sober, then [it's] absolutely worth it," she said. "The beauty of recovery is it's about connecting. It's one addict talking to another, saying, 'I get it.'"

Curtis often speaks about her addiction and recovery. She told the Daily Beast last year, "I was a dope fiend. I became addicted to painkillers after a medical procedure and it was a 10-year addiction. Secret and private."

Both her parents drank and she lost a brother to heroin when he was 20 years old. "This is a family disease," she said. "It will be the greatest achievement of my life if I can stay sober until I die."

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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