Actress Jamie Lee Curtis knew she needed to get sober when her sister Kelly was visiting, and she stole Kelly’s Vicodin. Kelly had been prescribed the pills after an injury but didn’t like the way they made her feel. Unaware of her sister’s Vicodin addiction—Curtis had been keeping it a secret for 10 years—Kelly threw them in her suitcase.
Curtis kept stealing the pills. She never worked high or drunk, only using substances at night and mostly evading notice from those around her. But she knew her sister would eventually find the empty bottle. She wrote Kelly a letter apologizing.
“When I came home that night, I was terrified that she was going to be so angry at me,” Curtis said, “but she just looked at me and put her arms out and hugged me and said, ‘You are an addict and I love you, but I am not going to watch you die.’ That’s it. She didn’t wag her finger at me. She didn’t tell me anything else.”
In February 1999, Curtis attended her first recovery meeting. She’s been sober ever since.
Before being prescribed Vicodin in the 80’s following a surgery, Curtis was no stranger to drug use. She and her dad—who was sober three years before starting to use again—once did cocaine together. One of her brothers, Nicholas, died at 21 of a heroin overdose.
Perhaps because of witnessing firsthand the worst outcomes of addiction, Curtis takes her sobriety very seriously. She makes sure she goes to recovery meetings—including hosting her own if need be.
“I am a very careful sober person,” she said. “When I work, if there are no recovery meetings available, I make them. I put a sign up by the catering truck saying, ‘Recovery meeting in my trailer.’”
“When I was making The Tailor of Panama…I found a recovery meeting that only spoke Spanish, didn’t speak a word of English. I didn’t understand a word anybody said, but I went and sat down and met people, shook hands and talked.”
Curtis also asks hotels to remove minibars before check-in. She has a history of misusing alcohol along with drugs—but similarly to her drug use, it was always secretive.
“For me it’s a hybrid because I also drank too much in a very controlled way, in a very Jamie way…” she said. “But to call yourself an alcoholic or a drug addict…can be, for many people, life-changing. Because the secret, the shameful secret, is the reason why it is such a pervasive illness in our industry—in every industry, in every socioeconomic stratum, in every country in the world. It is the secret shame that keeps people locked up in their disease.”
Curtis “came out” as sober in a cover story for Redbook Magazine when she had two years of recovery. She recalls that her house was neat, and her life looked fancy—the kind of life to which people might aspire. She talked about growth and change, and when the interviewer asked why she thought all the development occurred, she made a snap decision to talk about her recovery.
“And I knew in that moment that what I was doing is…that I was stepping over the line of anonymity and privacy into a public conversation,” Curtis said. If people were going to want her life, it was important to help break the stigma—to let them know that her recovery is what made it all possible.
If you are struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder, there is hope. TruHealing Centers offers high-quality treatment for addiction and mental health disorders in facilities across the country. Our staff—many of whom are in recovery themselves—will help you build happiness in recovery. To learn more, call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.