Addiction doesn’t discriminate. No matter your age, gender, education, family background, or socio-economic status you can become dependent on alcohol or other substances. Jamie Lee Curtis is a perfect illustration of this showing us all that no matter who you are, addiction can happen.
Recently, Curtis opened up about her own battle with addiction in an interview with AARP The Magazine. During her candid interview, she discussed how she was able to overcome addiction and her journey in recovery.
Addicted to alcohol and pain pills, Curtis explained how being sober for 22 years has impacted her life. “I’ve been sober 22 years off of an alcohol and pain pill addiction,” Curtis added, “the process of being a sober person puts you in the one day at a time mentality.”
Addiction: It’s a Family Disease
But living one day at a time wasn’t always how Curtis lived. Growing up in a family plagued by addiction, she learned first hand just how devastating addiction can be. Her father, actor Tony Curtis, battled addiction too. The now deceased actor had addictions to alcohol, cocaine, and heroin. In addition, her brother Nicholas Curtis died from a heroin overdose in 1994.
When Curtis talked to Entertainment Tonight in 2002 she went into some detail about her addiction. In that interview, she said, “It kills people. It killed my brother. It kills young people, old people, it ruins families. It’s ruinous.”
Addiction is a family disease. Impacting everyone from the person with the addiction to their spouses, siblings, children, and parents. And, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 1 in 7 children live in families with at least one parent who has an addiction.
Sadly, this increases the risk of the child developing an alcohol or substance use disorder themselves. And until the cycle of addiction is broken, it just continues, predisposing one generation after the next for addiction.
Risk Factors and Protective Factors for Developing Addiciton
There are other factors which also contribute to an increased risk of developing addiction. And, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) there are also “protective factors” that reduce the risk of an individual developing an addiction to alcohol or drug later in life.
It’s important to note that the majority of people with the risk factors don’t go on to develop an addiction but some do. These risk factors are seen in many of the individuals who do develop an addiction.
These risk factors are:
- Lack of parental supervision
- Family history of substance use and abuse
- Access to substances
- Peer use of substances
- Aggression in early childhood
- Lower socio-economic level
- Childhood trauma
- Pre-existing mental health problems
- Lack of economic opportunity
These protective factors are:
- Parental supervision
- Academic success
- Strong community involvement and connections (church-based and after school activities are two examples)
- Exposure to drug education and anti-drug use policies at school, home, and community
As mentioned, most people with these risk factors won’t develop a dependence on or addiction to alcohol or drugs. And, it’s important to note that with education and resources, these risk factors can be changed to protective factors. For example, if a child shows aggression, he or she can be taught more appropriate and healthy coping skills.
Understanding what puts one person at greater risk for addiction than the next is vital to preventing addiction from taking hold and destroying even more lives. For many, they are unaware that they are at greater risk until they are in treatment for addiction.
Battling an Opioid Addiction and Winning
In a 2018 interview with People Magazine, Curtis talked about how her addiction began. She recounted how she was first prescribed pain pills after minor plastic surgery in 1989. She soon became hooked on these dangerous opioids.
“I was ahead of the curve of the opioid epidemic,” she said, “I had a 10-year run stealing, conniving. No one knew. No one.”
Stealing pills and money to get drugs is common with addiction. The urges to use that drug are so strong and intense the person addicted will do anything to get that ‘high’ once again. And, for many, chasing that ‘high’ will be ongoing until they get help. Once tolerance sets in, and with opioids this can happen rather quickly, more and more of the drug is needed just to feel ‘normal’. This increase in how much is being taken can also contribute to overdose.
One of the people Curtis would steal pills from was her sister, Kelly, who was the first person to find out about Curtis’s addiction in 1998. Hiding addiction or trying to hide it, is very common with people struggling with substance use. This hiding and isolation can often keep the person using for longer periods of time.
However, in early 1999, Curtis attended her first recovery meeting. And she’s been sober ever since. Reflecting on her days of addiction, Curtis said, “I didn’t know it then. I chased everything. I kept it hidden. I was as sick as my secrets,”
Curtis says if she didn’t get sober she’d be dead. Today, she accepts that she lives day to day in sobriety. She looks forward to the future and says she is, “just a sober person — flawed, contradictory, broken and redeemed.”
Today, Curtis enjoys her life in sobriety and told People that being sober is her biggest accomplishment.
“I’m breaking the cycle that has basically destroyed the lives of generations in my family,” she said. “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.”
And getting sober is an accomplishment for anyone. Addiction can be a painful, lonely, and fearful road to travel. Many people who are in active addiction are hopeless and see no good end in sight. However, it’s important to understand that every day people in the depths of despair find the courage to get help and go on to live vibrant and fulfilling lives in sobriety.
If you or someone you love is struggling with an alcohol or substance use disorder, Futures Recovery Healthcare is here for you. Offering three different programs for treatment of addiction, we customize a plan to meet each person’s unique and specific needs when it comes to recovery from addiction.
To learn more about how Futures can help you or a loved one call us today at or contact us online. Remember, you too can recover from addiction and we can help. Call 866-804-2098