Tatum O'Neal Speaks Out on Near-Fatal Stroke and Coma: 'I Almost Died'

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Actress Tatum O'Neal is opening up about her struggles with drug addiction that led to a near-fatal stroke.

According to People, in 2020, the Paper Moon child star, now 59 years old, overdosed on a combination of pain medication, including opiates, and morphine. As the outlet detailed, this overdose left her in a coma for six weeks after suffering a stroke that almost killed her.

"I almost died," the Oscar-winner, who has long struggled with substance abuse, told the publication, while also adding she had been an “addict [her] whole life, pretty much on and off, for the past 30 to 40 years.”

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Her son, Kevin McEnroe, 37—the eldest of her three kids with former husband, tennis legend John McEnroe—specifically noted, "It was the phone call we'd always been waiting for.”

"She also had a cardiac arrest and a number of seizures," McEnroe told the publication. "There were times we didn't think she was going to survive."

The harrowing experience was especially scary for her children—which also include Sean, 35, and Emily, 32—who admitted to being worried that if she did make it out alive, she may never walk or speak again.

The actress has spent the past few years in rehab centers, re-learning how to read and write and working to regain her strength and memory following the incident, due to her diagnosis with Aphasia, a disorder that usually occurs suddenly after a stroke or a head injury, according to Mayo Clinic.

“I’ve been through a lot,” O’Neal said, noting she was abusing pain medication at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic after being prescribed it for her neck and back pain and rheumatoid arthritis.

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After the overdose, the mother of three was found by a friend in her Century City, Calif. apartment and rushed to the hospital.

“She had become very isolated. With the addition of morphine and heavier pharmaceuticals, it was getting scary. COVID, chronic pain, all these things led to a place of isolation. In that place, I don’t think, for her, there was much hope,” McEnroe said, later divulging that now, his mom has luckily “embraced this attempt” at recovery.

He continued: “This last chapter where she wants to live, wants to get sober, wants to learn, I think it’s a miracle. I think it’s beautiful. I’ve never been more proud to be her son. She’s full of love and full of heart … it’s a miracle to behold.”

O'Neal—most known for her roles in '70s and '80s films during childhood stardom—became the youngest person ever to win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress at the age of 10 at the 1974 Oscars, for her portrayal of Addie Loggins in 1973's Paper Moon opposite her father, Ryan O'Neal.

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