Amanda Bynes reveals she's 4 years sober, denies mental health challenges: My behavior was 'drug induced'

Amanda Bynes is ready for her comeback.

The reclusive 32-year-old retreated from the spotlight after capturing way too much of it several years ago. Starting in 2010, the former Nickelodeon star made headlines for her odd behavior, puzzling tweets and multiple legal issues, but she’s ready to put all that in the past. Bynes, a student at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles, is receiving her associate of arts degree in merchandise product development this month but wants to return to acting, eight years after retiring on Twitter.

In a rare, candid interview with Paper magazine, Bynes opened up about her private struggles that became so public. The former All That star revealed she became depressed after her 2006 film She’s the Man, in which she played a teen girl dressing in drag to pose as her brother.

“I went into a deep depression for four to six months because I didn’t like how I looked when I was a boy,” she reflected, adding that seeing herself with short hair and sideburns was “a super strange and out-of-body experience. It just really put me into a funk. …

“I started smoking marijuana when I was 16. Even though everyone thought I was the ‘good girl,’ I did smoke marijuana from that point on,” she continued. “I didn’t get addicted [then] and I wasn’t abusing it. And I wasn’t going out and partying or making a fool of myself … yet.”

Bynes explained that smoking weed eventually “progressed to doing molly and ecstasy.”

“[I tried] cocaine three times but I never got high from cocaine. I never liked it. It was never my drug of choice,” she added. Instead, she started regularly taking Adderall, an amphetamine-based stimulant used to treat people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). “I definitely abused Adderall,” she noted, recalling that she first heard of the prescription drug after reading an article calling Adderall “the new skinny pill.”

“I was like, ‘Well, I have to get my hands on that,’” Bynes said. She was able to get a prescription after going “to a psychiatrist and faking the symptoms of ADD.” Bynes believes that Adderall played a role in her on-set behavior while filming Hall Pass in the spring of 2010, the same time her behind-the-scenes antics started seeping into tabloids.

“When I was doing Hall Pass, I remember being in the trailer and I used to chew the Adderall tablets because I thought they made me [more] high [that way],” she said. “I remember chewing on a bunch of them and literally being scatterbrained and not being able to focus on my lines or memorize them for that matter.”

Photo: Danielle Levitt/Paper Magazine
Photo: Danielle Levitt/Paper Magazine

While filming, Bynes remembered “seeing my image on the screen and literally tripping out and thinking my arm looked so fat because it was in the foreground or whatever and I remember rushing off set and thinking, ‘Oh my god, I look so bad.’”

It was “the mixture of being so high that I couldn’t remember my lines and not liking my appearance” that caused Bynes to pull out of the film. Reports around the time circulated that she was fired, something she denied.

“I made a bunch of mistakes but I wasn’t fired,” Bynes admitted. “I did leave … it was definitely completely unprofessional of me to walk off and leave them stranded when they’d spent so much money on a set and crew and camera equipment and everything.”

However, it was starring opposite Emma Stone in 2010’s Easy A that made Bynes want to quit acting for good.

“I literally couldn’t stand my appearance in that movie and I didn’t like my performance. I was absolutely convinced I needed to stop acting after seeing it,” she explained. “I was high on marijuana when I saw that, but for some reason it really started to affect me. I don’t know if it was a drug-induced psychosis or what, but it affected my brain in a different way than it affects other people. It absolutely changed my perception of things.”

She continued, “I saw it and I was convinced that I should never be on camera again and I officially retired on Twitter, which was, you know, also stupid. If I was going to retire [the right way], I should’ve done it in a press statement — but I did it on Twitter. Real classy! But, you know, I was high and I was like, ‘You know what? I am so over this’ so I just did it. But it was really foolish and I see that now. I was young and stupid.”

Bynes suddenly found herself with too much time on her hands, so she would “‘wake and bake’ and literally be stoned all day long.”

“I just had no purpose in life. I’d been working my whole life and [now] I was doing nothing,” she explained. Bynes also started hanging out with a “seedier crowd.”

“I got really into my drug usage and it became a really dark, sad world for me,” she said. The Hairspray star summed up her life back then as one in which she “was just stuck at home, getting high, watching TV and tweeting.”

“I’m really ashamed and embarrassed with the things I said. I can’t turn back time but if I could, I would. And I’m so sorry to whoever I hurt and whoever I lied about because it truly eats away at me. It makes me feel so horrible and sick to my stomach and sad,” continued the actress. “Everything I worked my whole life to achieve, I kind of ruined it all through Twitter.” But, she added, “it’s definitely not Twitter’s fault — it’s my own fault.”

Bynes has been sober for “almost four years now,” crediting her parents with “really helping me get back on track.” However, she dismisses reports years ago that claimed she was battling severe mental health issues.

“It definitely isn’t fun when people diagnose you with what they think you are,” Bynes said, referring to the countless media reports that circulated about her state of mind. “That was always really bothersome to me. If you deny anything and tell them what it actually is, they don’t believe you. Truly, for me, [my behavior] was drug-induced, and whenever I got off of [drugs], I was always back to normal.

“I know that my behavior was so strange that people were just trying to grasp at straws for what was wrong,” Bynes conceded. Now, the former child star is ready to get back into the entertainment industry “kind of the same way I did as a kid, which is with excitement and hope for the best.”

“I have no fear of the future,” she declared. “I’ve been through the worst and came out the other end and survived it so I just feel like it’s only up from here.”

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