Drew Barrymore recalls her therapist’s ultimatum to stop drinking

Drew Barrymore discussed her decision to quit drinking alcohol. (Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for the Albie Awards)

Drew Barrymore may have entered rehab for the first time at 13, but she found herself dealing with the consequences of her drinking decades later.

The film star and TV host, 48, opened up to Los Angeles Times about the ultimatum she was given by her therapist of a decade, who was “so concerned” that he said he would no longer treat her if she did not stop drinking.

While Barrymore had initially entered rehab for drugs and alcohol as a teenager, she found herself back in the grip of alcohol decades later, following her 2016 divorce from Will Kopelman. According to the star, she felt she had failed her two daughters, Olive and Frankie, by divorcing. Having moved to New York City before the split to be closer to Kopelman’s family, she now felt alone and turned to drinking to help her cope with depression.

“You seem so inspired by everyone else, but you treat yourself like s***,” she told herself. “When will you be enough for yourself?”

Although Barrymore continued to drink because she felt she was still “high functioning,” her longtime psychoanalyst, Barry Michels, had had enough.

“He just said, ‘I can’t do this anymore,” Barrymore told the paper. “It was really about my drinking. I said, ‘I understand. I have never respected you more. You can see I’m not getting any better. And I hope that one day I can earn your trust back.’”

Barrymore’s friends also dealt with the consequences of her drinking. Although producing partner Nancy Juvonen, who is married to Barrymore’s former co-star Jimmy Fallon, says her friends gave her a “grace” after her divorce, they ultimately confronted her about her drinking.

Cameron Diaz, Barrymore’s longtime friend and Charlie’s Angel co-star, says her friend’s drinking was “hard to watch”.

“But I knew that if we all stuck with her and gave her the support she needed, she would find her way,” Diaz shared. “I have full confidence in her. You can’t even imagine how hard it was to be her as a child, and then she shot out the other end with the ability to save herself.”

Despite the efforts of her friends, Barrymore did not stop drinking immediately. But when she got the opportunity to host The Drew Barrymore Show in 2019 she knew it was time to make a change.

“I think the opportunity of a show like this really hit me,” Barrymore told the paper. “I thought, ‘I can’t do this unless I’m in a really clear place’.”

Wary of coming off as “some perfect puritan,” Barrymore doesn’t call herself “sober” or join Alcoholics Anonymous. But being able to stop drinking showed her that “I’m not stuck.” And after a two-year absence, Michels agreed to return as his therapist. The actress has credited his guidance for helping her navigate other difficult issues. When Kopelman remarried, Barrymore found herself wanting to be his new wife’s “best friend”.

“And my therapist said, ‘That’s a really good idea. But take it slow. Don’t overwhelm the situation. Find your rhythms and your limits so you can have the long game,'” Barrymore recalled.

Now on the cusp of the fourth season of her talk show, Barrymore is still managing her insecurities. Remembering the men who threw her in a car and dragged her to rehab as a teenager, she says she will “always have the ‘they’re coming, they’re coming’ mentality,” she said. “That’s the one thing that unfortunately I can’t shake. I’m pretty sure it’s all going to go away at any moment, I’m going to be locked up again and I’m going to lose my job.”

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