First off, let’s start with the good news. Scratch that, amazing, incredible, inspiring news. Jamie Lee Curtis has been sober for two decades and that, you guys, is cause for celebration. She is one of many featured in Variety‘s Recovery Issue and in it, she opened up about things we already knew — and so much we didn’t know.
Curtis had been nursing a secret addiction to opioids. The Halloween actress revealed a year ago that she stole meds from her sister, Kelly, who was recovering from an injury, but got caught. Prior to Kelly finding out, however, another friend witnessed Jamie swallow a handful of pills with a wine chaser and called her on it. “I heard this voice: ‘You know, Jamie, I see you. I see you with your little pills, and you think you’re so fabulous and so great, but the truth is you’re dead. You’re a dead woman,'” she recalled to Variety. “The jig was up. Now I knew someone knew. I had been nursing a secret Vicodin addiction for a very long time — over 10 years.”
A long time to keep a secret that huge but Curtis was great at hiding it — until she wasn’t. “I was the wildly controlled drug addict and alcoholic,” she described to the mag. “I never did it when I worked. I never took drugs before 5 p.m. I never, ever took painkillers at 10 in the morning. It was that sort of late afternoon and early evening — I like to refer to it as the warm-bath feeling of an opiate. That’s the feeling for me, what an opiate gave me, and I chased that feeling for a long time.”
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Am so happy @variety has made a commitment to focusing on recovery in our industry. Alcoholism and addiction know no boundaries and wreak havoc in all industries and communities. Proud to represent my hometown and continue the conversation of transformation that sobriety offers. 📷 @joepug
The Vicodin-taking started after she underwent “routine plastic surgery to remove the puffiness” under her eyes. The addiction may have been born long before that as the illness ran in her family. She even revealed that she “did cocaine and freebased once with my dad [Tony Curtis].” But an article in Esquire titled “Vicodin, My Vicodin” inspired her to attend her first recovery meeting. That was also when she first told her husband, Christopher Guest, that she had a problem.
“It’s too personal to say what exactly was said, but my entire family has been supportive and very appreciative of the efforts that I have put forth to achieve sobriety and hold on to it,” she said of her husband and their children, Annie and Thomas. “They see how much I try to work it and try to talk to other people and be a part of a community of people who are in recovery.”
When Curtis first started going to meetings, she was afraid of being recognized. But once she got going, the only way she could succeed was to share her story. When filming Freaky Friday, she was “about nine months sober” and she put up a sign by the catering truck that read, “Recovery meeting in Jamie’s trailer every day.” And people showed up.
A year or so later, she revealed to Redbook that she was in recovery, and that’s really when she crossed the line from “anonymity and privacy” to “a public conversation.” Jamie also admitted she’s a “very careful sober person,” one who has the minibar removed when she checks into a hotel, and makes recovery meetings happen if there aren’t any available. “I bring sobriety with me. I have attended recovery meetings all over this world.”
Curtis doesn’t see herself as a hero but, rather, “a worker amongst workers, a fellow alcoholic and drug addict connecting with other alcoholics and drug addicts” with “a shared illness and a shared recovery.” She added: “I’m not perfect but I can look in the mirror.” But she deserves some credit, because she could be giving hope to those who think they’re too far gone to get clean.
Jamie isn’t the only one featured in The Recovery Issue, which showcases prominent figures in the entertainment industry as they navigate sober lives in Hollywood. Actor Danny Trejo talks about being sober for 51 years. Elton John recalled how “terrified” he was at performing for the first time since getting sober. Andy Lassner, producer on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, opened up about his past addiction struggles and inspiring others to get sober, and music manager Jeff Jampol does his part by helping addicts on their road to recovery.