Actress and comedienne Kristen Johnston, best known for her roles on the television shows Third Rock from the Sun and The Exes, has written a book titled Guts: The Endless Follies and Tiny Triumphs of a Tiny Disaster. The brutally candid memoir recounts her exploits with prescription drugs and alcohol, which began in her teens, as well as her career and five-year battle with depression.
Toward the end of her active addiction she even landed in the hospital with acute peritonitis, an inflammation of the peritoneum, the thin tissue that lines the inner wall of the abdomen and covers most of the abdominal organs. At the time, she was in the midst of a career comeback, headlining in the West End production of Love Song. The actress recalls, “Opening night, and we were a smash hit. Then the next night my intestines ripped open.” She then spent two months recuperating in a London hospital after undergoing intricate surgery.
Apparently that wasn’t a big enough wake-up call for her and after being discharged from the hospital, Johnston went back to drinking and pill popping. Eventually the troubled actress bit the bullet and checked into an inpatient treatment center, The Meadows, in Wickenburg, Arizona. The actress reveals in Guts, “I was finally brave enough to face my biggest nightmare, revealing the hideous, revolting monster. I’ve been in recovery for five years, and I’ve worked my ass off to prevent a relapse.”
In November 2011 she talked about her life in recovery on The Late Show with David Letterman. Johnston went on to explain that she took Suboxone, a pill that helps people kick an addiction to opiates. She also told The New York Times that she “hates anonymity.” Kristen, 44, also recalled a recent conversation she had with a big Hollywood agent who said to her, “Honey, you really gotta stop telling everyone that you’re sober…it could get into the wrong hands, and it could hurt your career. But mostly it makes people uncomfortable.”
Johnston also tells The New York Times, “I’m revealing something by choice, not by need. And I think that’s important, because then more people can do it. I just want the honesty to be O.K.” In her memoir, Kristen explains that her addiction to pills and drinking problems started early on in her high school years, when she began stealing painkillers and alcohol from family and friends. When Johnston was in her thirties, she was drinking copious amounts of red wine and downing painkillers that were prescribed for her dog. “After the age of twenty-five, it’s no longer cute to have a red wine mustache and purple teeth.”
Inspired by her experiences, Johnston plans on opening a recovery school of her own, where sobriety is celebrated and stigma is discouraged. “The fact that there are 25 of these schools across the country and that New York doesn’t have one is just such a wrong.” Statistics show that one in three American teenagers struggle with addiction and that eighty percent of teenagers who have been through rehab will return to a regular high school and relapse within ninety days. On a positive note, seventy percent of students who attend a recovery school will graduate clean and sober.
Johnston hopes to have her school up and running by the fall of 2013. The book Guts proves that this Hollywood actress is bold in her honesty and brave in her truthfulness. She says penning her memoir is what finally gave her the courage to embrace the kind of candor she resisted when attempting to keep her addiction secret. “That was the beginning of me becoming an honest person,” she told The Times. “And I’ve got to say, truthfulness? It fits me like a glove.”
- Angelo, Megan. “A Star is Rehabbed.” The New York Times. 08 March 2012. Web. 27 June 2012.
- Tejeda, Valerie. “Vicodin Addiction Almost Killed Kristen Johnston.” The Fix. 08 March 2012. Web. 27 June 2012.
“Peritonitis.” National Institute of Health. U.S. National Library of Medicine. A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia. 10 June 2010. Web. 27 June 2012.
Filed under: Addiction, Celebrity News, Featured, Recovery · Tags: actress, addiction stigma, alcoholism, anonymity in rehab, celebrity addiction, celebrity depression, celebrity illness, celebrity memoir, celebrity recovery, Celebrity Rehab, honesty, Kristen Johnston, New York treatment centers, opiates, pain killers, peritonitis, pill popping, pills, prescription drugs, prescription medication, revelation, sobriety, Treatment, vicodin