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Jamie Lee Curtis Speaks Candidly About Battle With Painkiller Addiction

By David Konow 09/27/16

Curtis, who's been sober for 18 years, calls sobriety her "greatest achievement."

Jamie Lee Curtis Speaks Candidly About Battle With Painkiller Addiction

Actress Jamie Lee Curtis has come a long way since she first broke through Hollywood at the age of 19 with the 1978 classic horror film Halloween. After the success of that fright fest and other horror movies, she was dubbed the “scream queen” of cinema. Yet Curtis has a gift for comedy, and broke out of the horror straitjacket with hilarious turns in Trading Places and Freaky Friday.

In recent years, Curtis has enjoyed a new career as a children’s book author. Now she’s on tour promoting her latest book, This Is Me: A Story of Who We Are and Where We Came From, and she has talked candidly about her decade-long addiction to painkillers.

Curtis didn’t mince words when she told the Daily Beast, “I was a dope fiend. I became addicted to painkillers after a medical procedure and it was a ten-year addiction. Secret and private. I have worked very hard to stay sober and help others.”

Addiction ran in Curtis’ family. Both her parents drank, and she lost a brother to heroin when he was 20. “This is a family disease,” she continued. “It will be the greatest achievement of my life if I can stay sober until I die.”

Curtis felt guilty when her parents broke up because she felt that, as their youngest child, she was a "save the marriage" baby. “Why do you think I was stuffing painkillers down my throat all those years? There were eleven divorces between my parents,” she said.

In that regard, Curtis didn’t follow in her family’s footsteps. She has been married to comedian and director Christopher Guest—who wrote and starred in This is Spinal Tap and Waiting For Guffman—for over 30 years, and they have two grown children.

Curtis, who is now 18 years sober, felt compelled to speak out about her addiction earlier this year when Prince died of a fentanyl overdose. She confessed in an essay she wrote in the Huffington Post, “I too, waited anxiously for a prescription to be filled for the opiate I was secretly addicted to. I too, took too many at once. I too, sought to kill emotional and physical pain with pain killers. Kill it. Make it stop.”

Reflecting on her life today, post-addiction, Curtis says, “Everything is a fucking blessing. I have a family, I have some money in the bank, I have a sense of humor. And, I’m sober.”

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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.

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