She stole America’s heart as Stephanie Tanner, the spunky middle daughter on the hit show Full House, but after the series ended when she was 13, actress Jodie Sweetin struggled with addiction for years. Now she’s been sober since 2011 — and she credits the change to her role as a mother.
In a new interview with People, Sweetin says earning five years of sobriety has given her an “amazing” life.
Sweetin, who played Stephanie Tanner, having one of those famous Full House heart-to-hearts with her dad, Danny, played by Bob Saget, in a 1987 episode. (Photo: ABC via Getty Images)
Things weren’t always so easy for the child star. In her 2009 book, UnSweetined, Sweetin detailed how she first got drunk at onscreen older sister Candace Cameron Bure’s wedding: “I probably had two bottles of wine, and I was only 14. That first drink gave me the self-confidence I had been searching for my whole life. But that set the pattern of the kind of drinking that I would do.”
In addition to alcohol, Sweetin struggled with a crystal meth addiction and has been in treatment multiple times. Her second marriage, to Cody Herpin, resulted in daughter Zoie, 7, and a third marriage to Morty Coyle brought her daughter Beatrix, 5. Sweetin, who’s currently divorced, says she is finally clean and healthy because of her daughters.
Kimmy Gibbler (Andrea Barber), Stephanie Tanner (Sweetin), and DJ Tanner (Cameron Bure) are all grown up on Fuller House. (Photo: Fuller House/Instagram)
An incident when she drove with her baby in the car after she’d been drinking, detailed in Sweetin’s book, was a big wakeup call. “That was the big rock bottom,” the actress told Us Weekly in 2009. “I not only put myself in danger, but also my daughter, who I loved more than anything. I felt terrible.“
She began to look back on her own childhood for answers. Sweetin’s biological mother was also an addict, and as a baby, she was adopted by her uncle and aunt. “I would hear stories about my mom leaving me to go off and party. And for years I was like, ‘F*** her. How could somebody do that to their kid?’ When I started seeing my own addiction getting in the way of being a mom, I finally understood: If you’re not in the right place to get sober, you’re not ready to be a mom.”
Jill Weber, a clinical psychologist who works with adolescent patients in Washington, D.C., tells Yahoo Parenting that Sweetin’s own past, even though she was only with her mother for those early nine months, can affect her present. “Addiction runs in families,” Weber says, adding that, for Sweetin, there was also an environmental risk in terms of being adopted, feeling abandoned, and then having the highs and lows that come with celebrity life. “Being on a set throughout childhood, for some, means they maybe had little emotional support, long-term friendships, and a healthy day-to-day routine. As exciting as it sounds to be a child star, it’s arduous work and kids often lose out on having a childhood.”
The Full House gang, together again. (Photo: Fuller House/Instagram)
At the same time, Sweetin’s success as an actor can play a positive role in her recovery, according to Weber. “Her ability to speak openly about her struggle and what she is working toward are incredible antidotes to the shame that leads many back to their addiction,” says Weber.
Sweetin herself says sharing her story as a guest speaker at colleges is part of her healing process. “I speak about my experience growing up in the entertainment business, what my life was like after, some of the struggles and things I went through, and where my life is today,” Sweetin told People. “It’s a story with a message of second chances and turning things around and being able to overcome some adversity.”
With the highly anticipated Fuller House — a reboot of the successful series starring much of the original cast — coming to Netflix in February, Sweetin says she is in a good place. “My life is amazing,” she told People. “I will have five years [of sobriety] in March. It’s given me a lot of gratitude.”
Top photo: Jodie Sweetin with her two daughters. (Jodie Sweetin/Instagram)