Actress Jada Pinkett Smith has been sober for over 20 years, and addiction runs in her family. Her mom, Adrienne Banfield-Jones, has been in recovery for 30 years. Banfield-Jones battled heroin addiction for more than two decades, throughout Pinkett Smith’s childhood. She said it took six years for her to reach one year of continuous sobriety.
This is common, as relapse is considered part of recovery. Many people relapse more than once before they reach lasting sobriety. As Banfield-Jones’ story shows, long-term recovery is possible no matter how long it takes to get there. Mother and daughter are both open about their addictions, giving people who might be discouraged hope.
The two had a powerful conversation about addiction on an episode of their show Red Table Talk, which stars them and Pinkett Smith’s daughter, singer Willow Smith. In the episode, Banfield-Jones says, “I couldn’t hide the unmanageability of my life; the emotional and spiritual damage that I did to myself and to [Pinkett Smith] was devastating.”
“I could tell when my mother was high,” Pinkett Smith said. “She couldn’t make it on time to pick me up from school. Or she’s nodding off, falling asleep in the middle of something. You just realize, ‘Oh, that’s not being tired. That is a drug problem.’”
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), about half of a person’s risk for addiction is genetic. Pinkett Smith has been open about her addictive tendencies, which she believes have bounced around to fixate on different vices.
Her own substance use disorder involved alcohol. She realized she couldn’t moderate her drinking one day when she was home alone, reaching for a third bottle of wine. Pinkett Smith has also spoken about having addictions to sex and the gym at various points in her life. To her, the mechanism feels the same for each.
“I am a binger,” she said, “and I always have to watch myself. I can just get obsessed with things. It’s not what you’re doing but how you are with it. Why you’re doing it. It’s the behavior that’s attached to it.”
Pinkett Smith said having addictions in her family made her realize that “really great people just get caught up.” Banfield-Jones and Pinkett Smith use their platform to show viewers that all types of people have addictions—and to make it easier for people to enter recovery.
Banfield-Jones said, “There is a stigma and a stereotype attached to addiction that makes it difficult for people to seek the help that they need. So if I can in any way help—just a little bit—with some of that, then it’ll be worth it.”
If you are struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder, there is help and 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 address the underlying reasons you used substances and build coping skills to thrive in long-term recovery. To learn more, call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005. `