Oftentimes when we hear of someone in the entertainment game succumbing to the excess of drug abuse, it seems to have a somewhat polarizing effect on the way we think. While we may react with a sense of shock and loss, there are times where our reactions are indifferent. Far too many times have we heard the familiar tale of someone who had it all, cracked under the pressures and burdens of fame and dug their own graves with substance abuse.
While the list of celebrities past and present who have burned out and faded away is lengthy, we can forget there are those who faced the battle head on and eventually conquered their demons. A great example of this is former child star Jodie Sweetin. Best known for her role as middle child Stephanie Tanner on the popular sitcom Full House, Sweetin’s personal life was in stark contrast to the tone of the show.
The Downward Spiral
Once Full House ended in 1995, she found sporadic acting work but had led a normal life finishing high school and enrolling in college. It was soon after her run on the sitcom that she started to experiment with drugs and alcohol. In her 2009 book UnSweetined, she wrote openly about the first time she drank alcohol at her co-star’s Candice Cameron Bure’s wedding.
“I probably had two bottles of wine, and I was only 14. That first drink gave me the self-confidence I had been searching for my whole life. But that set the pattern of the kind of drinking that I would do.”
In her book, Sweetin wrote that she first started drinking a couple of times a week through high school and began using harder drugs such as cocaine and ecstasy while attending a local college. Over the next 15 years, her drug use escalated and she estimated that she spent nearly $60,000 in drugs in a nine-month span between 2006 and 2007.
She later attended rehab, and when the press caught about her treatment stay she became a much sought-after interview and a frequent lecturer on the college circuit. While she was in demand as a speaker, she was still active in her drug use. In an interview done on the Today show, Sweetin spoke about how the lies were making her miserable.
“I was trying to be that person that everyone was expecting me to be, I felt like a fraud, and a lot of shame went with that. And with all that, came more using, and feeling bad about it, and continuing to do it.”
In particular, she spoke about a speaking engagement at Marquette University where she broke down on stage talking about her experiences with drugs and alcohol. What the audience didn’t realize is that Sweetin was in the midst of a cocaine binge while giving her talk. She attempted to clean up her act when she was pregnant with her daughter Zoie in spring of 2008. She relapsed a few months after her daughter’s birth.
In December of 2008, Sweetin decided to get clean and sober for good. At the time, she had been investigated by Child Services after admitting that she was driving drunk with her daughter in the car. The motivation that drives her sobriety is her daughter and hoping that her daughter doesn’t see the poor choices that she made in her life regarding drugs and alcohol.
After she got clean and sober, Sweetin began working as a clinical logistics coordinator at a Los Angeles drug rehab center. Her employment caught the attention of the press and rumors circulated that she had relapsed which weren’t true. She has since left her job and returned to acting. She is starring along with Candace Cameron Bure in Fuller House, which is the reboot of the original Full House series.
She also resumed her speaking engagements and talks to college students about her addictions and what she has done to overcome them. In an interview with Fashion Style, she talks about how making the commitment to embrace recovery has helped turn her life around:
“I speak about my experience growing up in the entertainment business, what my life was like after, some of the struggles and things I went through and where my life is today. It’s a story with a message of second chances and turning things around and being able to overcome some adversity”
In a business where the axiom too much too soon seems to be all too common, the story of Jodie Sweetin is both refreshing and inspirational. Her story underscores the fact that addressing addiction isn’t easy. Her story also underscores the fact that if you truly work a program of recovery and have support and encouragement, you can overcome substance abuse and find happiness, health and serenity.