Photo Courtesy of Council on Alcohol and Drugs Houston Jamie Lee Curtis: "Somebody who's lost is not a loser."
The Curtis who gave a speech Thursday at a fundraising luncheon for the Council on Alcohol and Drugs Houston wasn't the smiley Activia-fairy who magically appears whenever a woman somewhere is at war with her gastrointestinal tract, but a no-nonsense recovering alcohol-and-Vicodin addict who peppered a speech on battling substance abuse with quotes from Anaïs Nin, Jamaica Kincaid and the Talmud.
Curtis was invited to speak as part of The Waggoners Foundation Speakers Series, which brings in some big names -- Ashley Judd, Jim Belushi, Betty Ford -- to talk about their personal struggles with addiction (and to raise money for the council).
We were secretly hoping for some behind-the-scenes dishing about boozin' it up on the set of Terror Train (one of our faves) or what it was like to work with Eddie Murphy back when he was funny (Trading Places); what we got was a pretty serious look at 14 years of sobriety.
We say that because Curtis focused more on her recovery, and her attitudes on addiction in general, than on what drove her there in the first place. This made her brief mentions of those darker days all the more effective; like how, early in her pill-popping career, she never had to rely on a shady doctor to write a prescription -- she simply stole from friends' medicine cabinets.
"I took a little five-finger discount out of your lovely home," she said.
Coming from what she called a "rigid" family where kids weren't encouraged to have "your own mind, own ideas," she didn't realize she had a problem until much later in life. Not even the death of her brother Nicholas -- a heroin overdose at age 21 -- made her take stock of herself. Her moment of clarity, she said, literally happened overnight. Realizing there was a problem was the easy part. The hard part was the very first step: "I could not admit that I was powerless over drugs and alcohol."
Part of that came from a stigma that, she says, people still attach to addiction. What she eventually realized was, "Somebody's who lost is not a loser."
Ultimately, she says, she also came to the conclusion that a dependency on drugs and alcohol is but one flavor of addiction -- and this is where Curtis got a bit hardcore, saying, "We're addicted to porn, we're addicted to smut," and lamenting the current styles of high-school couture -- "Have you been to a prom lately? They're not prom dresses."
That all figured into her concern over statistics allegedly indicating that girls as young as eight or nine wish they were thinner, and how body image issues are leading to "a genocide of women" who "think 'it' can be bought or pulled or augmented."
Okay -- even though we thought the "genocide" bit was a little much, we dig the fact that Curtis agreed to speak at this fundraiser; from what we can tell, the council -- which claims to turn no one away, and whose clinic doors are always open -- does tremendous work. The fact that celebrities like her are willing to lend their clout, and share some of the less camera-friendly parts of their lives, to a cause that has helped thousands of Houstonians get clean is pretty cool. Hell, it's even as cool as, if not cooler than, Terror Train.
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