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Jamie Lee Curtis – A True Recovery Story

Posted by arizonarecovery on August 4, 2020

Jamie Lee Curtis has opened up about her battle with drug addiction and the affect it had on her relationship with her family, her movie career and her daily life. In an interview with Variety for its “Recovery Issue”, the Halloween actor discussed everything from how she became addicted to Vicodin after getting plastic surgery. She came clean about her continued efforts to stay sober and how she once took drugs alongside her movie star dad, Tony Curtis.

The 60-year-old movie star said that addiction runs deep in her family, saying that her brother died of a heroin overdose when he was 22-years-old, and that her father also struggled with an opiate and alcohol addiction. “I knew my dad had an issue because I had an issue and he and I shared drugs together,” Curtis said. “There was a period of time where I was the only child that was talking to my dad and my brother. I did cocaine and freebased once with my dad. But that was the only time I did that, and I did that with him.” Curtis went on to explain how her father managed to get sober for a short period of time but that it “didn’t last long”. Her father passed away in 2010 from a cardiac arrest after suffering from obstructive pulmonary disease for years. He was 85 years old. The True Lies moviestar also opened up about her initial experience of drug addiction which occurred when she was prescribed opiates in 1989 after minor plastic surgery for her “puffy eyes”. “I went and had routine plastic surgery to remove the puffiness,” Curtis said. “They gave me Vicodin as a painkiller for something that wasn’t really painful.” Curtis described how she found herself taking up to five Vicodin at once and washing it down with alcohol. However, she said her addiction was “wildly controlled” because she never took pills while at work. “I never took drugs before 5pm I never, ever took painkillers at 10 in the morning,” Curtis explained. “It was that sort of late afternoon and early evening — I like to refer to it as the warm-bath feeling of an opiate. It’s like the way you naturally feel when your body is cool, and you step into a warm bath, and you sink into it. That’s the feeling for me, what an opiate gave me, and I chased that feeling for a long time.”

Curtis is in recovery from alcoholism, and she has also struggled with prescription opioid abuse. As it happens for many other people, it started for her with legitimately-prescribed medications, particularly Vicodin, after a cosmetic eye procedure. Curtis said, “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.

Jamie Lee Curtis and Addiction – The Contributing Factors

There is no one single identifiable cause of a Substance Use Disorder. Rather, a variety of different factors play a role.  In the specific case of Jamie Lee Curtis, there are at least four contributing factors:

  • Genetics—Alcoholism and drug addiction both run in her family. Alcoholism is a disease according to most alcohol rehab centers. Her father, Hollywood legend Tony Curtis, abused both alcohol and cocaine and even developed cirrhosis of the liver as a result.  He finally achieved sobriety after entering a treatment program at the age of 59. But it was too late, he died a few years later from complications from alcoholism and heart disease.  The disease of addiction affected other family members as well.  In 1994, her brother died of a drug overdose at 23 years old.
  • Childhood Exposure—Parental attitudes and substance use exert the greatest influence on their children’s subsequent behaviors. For example, 82% of parents who drink raise children who also drink. For his part, Tony Curtis said, “In my user days, I was drinking a lot around Jamie and taking a lot of pills.” The disease of alcoholism doesn’t care about wealth, status or money!
  • Parental Alienation—Curtis’ parents divorced when she was a kid and that affected her childhood significantly. Her dad, Tony, after the divorce, was “not around”, according to Curtis. She said, “He was not a father. He was not interested in being a father. He was more interested in getting drunk.” The timing of the divorce was significant, because parental absence during the formative years  (the first five years of life,) impacts the regions of the brain associated with the ability to form emotional and physical bonds. For celebrities genetically vulnerable to addiction, like Jamie Lee Curtis and many other celebrities, alcohol and drugs also affect those same areas. Intoxicants chemically fill the role of those missing bonds, satisfying the biological need for feeling close to someone.
  • Self-Esteem—Curtis admits that the perfection at any costs culture of Hollywood, California affected how she felt about herself for a very long time. Celebrities often face addiction, Jamie is not alone. In her late 20’s she had plastic surgery after her agent told her she had bags under her eyes. The experience did not make her feel better and left her with an intense Vicodin addiction and she sought drug treatment in Scottsdale.

Jamie Lee Curtis Today in 2020.

As soon as I got sober, which is 20 years coming up in February, everything changed. Because it was a big, big acknowledgement that I could not do all of the things I was trying to do…That’s the single greatest accomplishment of my life.” ~ Jamie Lee Curtis

Curtis regained her sobriety in early 1998 and she has been in successful recovery ever since, working a strong program in AA and keeping herself accountable. Most of her work has been around changing her attitudes and behaviors. For instance, to avoid obsessing over failing to meet Hollywood’s impossible beauty standard and worrying about other peoples opinion of her appearance, she has let her hair go naturally gray, and no longer wears high heels if she’s not on set. The other part is acceptance. Instead of constantly trying to control everything in her life, she now trusts that she’s exactly where she’s supposed to be as a mother, an actress and a loving wife. She says, “At some point, you have to be okay with it. Because if not, it will make you go crazy. I have accepted long ago to go where the love is.”

If the example of Jamie Lee Curtis and her journey from addiction to recovery has inspired you to seek treatment for yourself, Arizona Recovery can help. As one of the leading Inpatient and Outpatient rehab programs in Arizona, Arizona Recovery uses an evidence-based and wellness focused treatment strategy that allows you return to a healthier, more balanced, and sober life.

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Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Arizona Recovery Center holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2007. Call 866-230-7375.