Jamie Lee Curtis shudders to think what would have happened had her opioid addiction raged during today’s fentanyl crisis.
The Oscar-winning actress, 64, has been sober for more than 23 years, a milestone she doesn’t take lightly. In a new interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Friday, she said she’d be “dead” had the potent synthetic opioid drug been as available back then as it is today.
“I was an opiate addict, and I liked a good opiate buzz,” Curtis said. “And if fentanyl was … as easily available as it is today on the street, I’d be dead.”
The Halloween star, who was also addicted to alcohol and used cocaine, called herself “incredibly lucky” to not have completely blown up her life as an addict.
“My worst day was almost invisible to anyone else,” she said of her secret battle. “I didn’t make terrible decisions high or under the influence that then for the rest of my life, I regret. There are women in prison whose lives have been shattered by drugs and alcohol. Not because they were violent felons. Not because they were horrible people but because they were addicts. I am incredibly lucky that wasn’t my path.”
Curtis talked about generational addiction, as her father, actor Tony Curtis, and other family members also struggled with addiction.
“I’ve seen it in my own family,” said Curtis, who went on to talk about losing her half-brother, Nicholas Curtis, to a heroin overdose when he was 21. “He was clean and sober, and he went out and used one time and died from an overdose. And he is one of millions and millions of people whose lives have been extinguished because of addiction.”
Curtis, who reached a career milestone earlier this year when she won her first Oscar (for Best Supporting Actress in Everything Everywhere All at Once), has been very candid about her addiction through the years.
Her opioid use began after she was prescribed painkillers following minor plastic surgery in 1989 on her eyes. Curtis, who is married to Christopher Guest, hid her struggle for10 year before getting sober in 1999.
“I had a 10-year run, stealing, conniving. No one knew. No one,” she told People of her Vicodin addiction. Then a friend saw her casually swallow a handful of pills with wine while cooking dinner. “The jig was up,” she told Variety. Curtis, a mother of two, didn’t actually stop until she was caught stealing pills from her sister, who was recovering from an injury. Around the same time, she happened upon an article in Esquire titled “Vicodin, My Vicodin” about writer Tom Chiarella’s painkiller addiction and realized, for the first time, that she wasn’t alone. She sought help and has been sober since.
“Getting sober remains my single greatest accomplishment … bigger than my husband, bigger than both of my children and bigger than any work, success, failure. Anything,” she told People.