Drew Barrymore Breaks Down On Radio Show About Being Institutionalised At 13


Former Hollywood wildchild Drew Barrymore broke down on Howard Stern’s radio show, after describing how she was institutionalised at the age of 13.

The 40-year-old star of movies like ‘Charlie’s Angels’ and 'Scream’ has been doing the rounds promoting her new book of essays 'Wildflower’.

She revealed how, at the peak of her problems with alcohol and drugs, she was institutionalised for a year and a half.

Prior to that, she’d been sent to live with reformed addict and rock star David Crosby for two months in the hope of curbing her behaviour.

“It was a very severe lockdown,” she said.

“No Hollywood rehab 30-day Malibu beachside bulls**t - this was school of hard knocks in the most severe way and I’m 13 to 14, but I swear to God, it’s what I needed.

“There was no way I was going to be me without that year and a half. It was boot camp and you would get the boot all the time and I hated it at first.


“I had nothing but freedom up until that point - dancing on tables at Helena’s and Studio 54 and Limelight and every club on the planet, partying it up and doing whatever I wanted whenever I wanted.

“All of a sudden it was, 'You have no freedom. You will figure out your life and you have the best insurance policy ever so you’re staying here until we tell you you’ve changed’.”

Starting to cry, she added: “I left there the most humble person you could ever imagine. They saved my life.”

Barrymore was born into an acting dynasty, daughter of actor John Drew Barrymore, granddaughter of John Barrymore and variously related to Lionel Barrymore, Ethel Barrymore and early movie and vaudeville stars Maurice and Mae Costello, as well as being the goddaughter of Steven Spielberg and Sophia Loren.

She appeared in her first advert aged just 11 months, with her breakthrough coming aged six in 'E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial’ in 1981. Latterly, she was managed by her mother, aspiring actress Jaid Barrymore, though she admits this ‘did not go well’.


Her fame came a uniquely accelerated adulthood, smoking, drinking and using drugs by the age of 13, at which point she was a regular at clubs like the decadent Studio 54 in New York.

The spell in the institution was followed by her being legally emancipated from her parents at 14, at which point she moved to New York to live on her own, but could not find work.

She began a comeback in 1992 in the movie 'Poison Ivy’, but had not lost all her wildchild ways.

In 1995, aged 19, she appeared on Letterman and climbing on his desk, exposed her breasts to him.

She broached that incident with Stern too.


“I mean, you see me up there as if I’m on a train and I don’t know where it’s going,” she said, adding the experience was 'completely out-of-body’.

“I didn’t even know what I was doing in the moment. I got off and was like, 'Holy s**t, what did I just do?'”

“I was like, 'OK, that was crazy, fun. I think the tone came off OK. Thank God David Letterman didn’t make me look bad in front of people.”

“He could have sent me off to a real bad place with disapproval in that moment, and instead he was charming and cute and let everybody know that this was OK - and it was OK and we got away with it.”


Barrymore is now married to art consultant Will Kopelman, and has two daughters Olive and Frankie.

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Image credits: Getty/ET/Rex Features/Yahoo

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