Kristen Johnston's sister Julie Herschede dies after addiction battle

Suzy Byrne
·Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
·3 mins read

Kristen Johnston is mourning the loss of her younger sister, Julie Herschede.

The Third Rock From the Sun alum, 52, shared that her “beautiful” sister “lost her battle with addiction” on Monday. “I know she’s finally at peace. She had the best belly laugh in the world.”

Soon after, the actress — who had shared a photo of herself with her Wisconsin-based sibling — thanked her followers for the “outpouring of love & support,” saying, “It means a lot to me.”

Johnston’s sister was a mom to three daughters. Herschede and her girls visited Johnston on the set of The Exes in 2012.

Last year, Johnston — who has been outspoken about her own addiction issues — shared on Twitter that she had to give her sister tough love amid her addiction battle. When someone wrote about the challenges of loving an addict, the star replied, “All you can do is take care of yourself. It may mean letting go of them for a while... Never let someone else’s pain become yours... I had to stop with my baby sister. I know how hard it is.”

Johnston — who plays recovering addict Tammy Diffendorf on CBS’s Mom —wrote about her drug and alcohol addiction in her 2012 memoir Guts, revealing that she had been an addict for most of her adult life. The book title came from an exploding-ulcer incident in 2006 caused by her abuse of the painkiller Vicodin.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly to promote the book at the time, Johnston said she “should have died” amid the acute peritonitis, which saw an “ulcer that burst and basically I became septic.” She said, “I think they actually lost me twice on the operating table.”

Johnston had been taking “somewhere between 20 and 100” Vicodin “a day. It was very hardcore.”

After that health criss, she sought treatment for her addiction and it was an eye-opening experience, leading her to change the focus of her life.

“When I was at rehab I said to the counselor, ‘I don’t know if I want to act any more,’” recalled Johnston, who won two Emmys playing Sally Solomon on Third Rock from 1996 to 2001. “She goes, ‘Maybe you just shouldn’t.’ And that’s what awakened in me [the idea that] I need to also do other things like teach and write and do SLAM” — Sobriety, Learning, and Motivation, the organization helping NYC high school kids with addiction — “and all these other things I never would have done. It’s a search for finding what makes you vital. You know, ‘Why wake up every day?’ And it can’t be because of Vicodin. That’s why I do all this other stuff. It gives me so much joy. I’m not smarter. I’m still an a**hole. But it makes me vital, it makes me feel like I’m not just chattel.”

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