Drew Barrymore Says Not Drinking Alcohol Is a Way of Honoring Her Family

Drew Barrymore Reveals How Stopping Drinking Is Important for Her Family Legacy
Drew Barrymore Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images
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Drew Barrymore says one of the most important accomplishments in her life is becoming sober following her family history of alcohol and drug abuse.

The talk show host, 49, is one of several members of the Barrymore family to gain fame as an actor. Her great uncle Lionel Barrymore won an Academy Award, and starred in the 1946 classic It’s a Wonderful Life.

“For me, stopping drinking is one of the most honoring things I can do to the Barrymore name, because we have all been such hedonists,” she told People in an interview published on Wednesday, April 10.

Drew’s father, the late John Drew Barrymore, was arrested several times for drug use, drunkenness and spousal abuse. Her grandfather John Barrymore struggled with alcohol abuse from the age of 14.

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Drew also had a troubled childhood after becoming an instant star at age seven following her featured role in the 1982 classic E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial directed by Steven Spielberg.

She was placed in rehab at age 13, and spent 18 months in an institution. Three decades later, she quit drinking in 2019 after shooting the pilot for her self-titled talk show.

Drew told People she knew she was not a good role model in her teens, and as she grew up, she was determined to reverse the substance abuse cycle in her family.

“Don't look to me as the pillar of health and wellness and having it all together. It's just like, you know what? This didn't work for our family and I'm going to stop it,” she said “I'm going to be the one to break the link in that chain and maybe my kids and their kids will be better off for it. We have to fight genetic follies that our families bring to us.”

The Wedding Singer actress said she has always wanted to continue her family legacy in a positive way.

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“Ever since I could remember…somewhere around three years old, I felt this extraordinary responsibility, when I would watch my family's movies, to keep their name alive,” she continued. “It helps me make sense of why I feel so magnetized to work in the field of film and television. I've got it in my jeans and my blood, and I've been lucky enough that this business would allow me to keep going.”

In March, Drew opened up to Us Weekly about overcoming her alcohol problem.

“I drank for, oh God, since I was nine. And then one day, I just thought, ‘I’m never going to do this again,’” she told Us exclusively.

Drew has been sober for five years, and she admits it is a challenge to maintain her new lifestyle.

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“I then had to really go to work and start figuring out how to build myself up and get in touch with why I was drinking like that. It was my coping mechanism. I loved the way that alcohol emboldened me. The anxiety went away. It makes you feel like an immortal that can handle anything. And then the next day you are living in that chemical aftermath and you feel worse,” she explained.

“It wasn’t a new concept to me; it was something I knew my whole life did not work for me,” Drew continued. “I kept saying, ‘I’ll master this one day.’ And sometimes it’s as simple as just getting so sick of yourself wanting to do something for the majority of your life, and one day, it finally clicks.”