HALLOWEEN’S JAMIE LEE CURTIS REFLECTS ON SOBRIETY AND USING HORROR FOR BETTER MENTAL HEALTH
The reboot of Halloween is the number one movie in the country, and not only is Michael Myers scaring the hell out of audiences, but Jamie Lee Curtis is also back on top with a vengeance. Yet Curtis is not only talking about the horror film that made her career, but she’s also reflecting on the years she suffered from addiction, and how she’s maintained sobriety for nearly twenty years.
Curtis was addicted to opioids, and she told the Chicago Sun-Times, “As soon as I got sober, which is 20 years coming up in February, everything changed. Because it was a big, big acknowledgment that I could not do all of the things I was trying to do.” To this day she considers her sobriety “the single greatest accomplishment of my life.”
How Jamie Lee Curtis Overcame Addiction
Curtis was shooting her beloved comedy A Fish Called Wanda, and was in tears having to leave her six-month-old daughter behind at home so she could work on the movie for 12 hours a day. Her addiction followed soon after.
Curtis told The Hill she had read an article in Esquire magazine called, “Vicodin, My Vicodin,” where journalist Tom Chiarella wrote candidly about being hooked on opioids. “It was the first time I understood that someone else was enmeshed in painkillers as I was, and he gave me the confidence to tell the truth on myself.”
Curtis continues, “That article was really the beginning of my looking in the mirror and understanding that I had a problem. I reached out to someone I knew in recovery, and they introduced me to someone who then took me to a recovery meeting. I was lucky that I didn’t have to go to a rehab facility and have been able to stay sober through the program of recovery and the community of fellow addicts with whom I share my story and listen to theirs.”
Addiction also ran in Curtis’s family. Her brother died at the age of 21 from a heroin overdose, “and both of my parents struggled with alcoholism and addiction their whole lives.”
Reflecting on her sobriety, Curtis told ABC correspondent Chris Connelly, “If one person listening to this understands…Maybe if they get sober, then [it’s] absolutely worth it. The beauty of recovery is it’s about connecting. It’s one addict talking to another, saying, ‘I get it.’”
The Healing Power of Horror
With the new sequel to Halloween being such a big hit, Curtis is on a powerful public platform to speak out about addiction, rehabilitation, and recovery.
She has also said that Halloween is a movie about dealing with trauma, and many people often turn to horror films to deal with their mental health issues. While some would feel that horror can be too disturbing for people who are dealing with mental health issues, a good horror film can actually be incredibly cathartic for people, including Curtis herself.
Many times horror can give fear and trauma a shape, like a killer or a shark, and then destroy it. Surprisingly horror hasn’t dealt with addiction much if it has at all, but it certainly can show a good road to better mental health.
Curtis told Mashable she’s glad that Halloween screenwriters David Gordon Green and Danny McBride “focused on the trauma that occurred with Laurie Strode, and that they wanted to take off the mask of trauma. They wanted to show and expose really what trauma looked like. What does that violence perpetrated on a young girl, what does it look like 40 years later if it’s untreated, if she hadn’t been given any mental health services? What does it look like in a person? And then, watch that person take back the narrative. So, it was both show the trauma and then flip it.”