Actress, Producer Drew Barrymore Addresses Long-time Recovery from Substance Abuse

It seems that from her early days as a child star to global celebrity status, Drew Barrymore’s life has been lived in front of the cameras, including her battle through substance abuse as a young teenager.

Drew Barrymore, who was cast by Steven Spielberg in the worldwide phenomenon movie E.T. at the age of six, quickly bore the weight of celebrity status despite her young age. At the age of only ten, she said she celebrated birthdays at clubs in New York City until the early morning hours. During this phase of her childhood, she had also begun to experiment with alcohol and marijuana, then cocaine by age 12.

Drew Barrymore’s mother sought treatment at a family-based rehabilitation center, but the stay lasted less than two weeks. Soon after leaving rehab for film work, the actress said she had used cocaine again. Her mother sought to intervene again, placing her back into a rehab center.

As a young teen, Barrymore attempted suicide, an event addressed along with her journey through substance abuse in her autobiography, “Little Girl Lost.” At the age of fifteen, the actress legally petitioned for emancipation from her parents, which offered the same legal rights as those of someone who had reached 18. At this time, she also made a move into her own L.A. apartment. 

Drew Barrymore also gained national attention for her behavior as a young adult on the David Letterman show, where she is reported to have flashed her chest to the talk show host. In the late 1990s, Barrymore was named one of the 50 Most Beautiful people form People magazine.

In articles reflecting on the star’s battle with drugs and alcohol at a young age, an absent, alcoholic father and a mother’s hectic work schedule have been named as contributing factors, along with a family history of drug and alcohol abuse. Drew Barrymore is also said to have denied that she had a substance abuse problem during her teen years as she attempted recovery. 

The celebrity actress is reported to have maintained a life free of substance abuse since her teen years, which has been attributed to her choosing friendships with people who also maintain a similar lifestyle. In interviews, the actress has said her close friendships have helped her maintain recovery and that she was able to heal further by visiting her estranged father before he died. Now managing an acclaimed career as an actress and successful movie producer, she has referred to herself as a “rescue” in interviews.

Because Drew Barrymore’s substance abuse recovery included multiple visits to rehab, and hit a bottom so low she said she couldn’t see forward into her future, her story may inspire others who are suffering from drug and alcohol abuse that recovery is possible and can be a daily decision.