Cameron Diaz Said It Was "Difficult to Watch" Drew Barrymore Relapse With Alcohol

Drew Barrymore has long been open about her history with substance use. As a teen, she even wrote a memoir about her experience with addiction. As an adult, she's been a little more private about her relationship with drugs and alcohol. In 2021, she said that she was on a "quiet, confident journey" regarding drinking and had been alcohol-free for over two years, per CNN. In a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, however, Barrymore gave an intimate look into how she overcame a relapse with the help of close friends like Cameron Diaz.

When Barrymore left rehab at 14, she worked at a coffee shop where she met Diaz and they sparked a friendship. "You can't even comprehend how hard it was to be her as a child, and then she shot out the other end with the ability to save herself," Diaz told the LA Times. So when Barrymore turned to alcohol following her 2016 divorce from Will Kopelman, Diaz said it was "difficult to watch."

In a Dec. 27 interview with People magazine, Barrymore called that time "cripplingly difficult," describing how she started to drink again to cope with the pain of the divorce. "It was just trying to numb the pain and feel good — and alcohol totally did that for me," she explained. "The drinking thing for me was a constant, like, 'You cannot change. You are weak and incapable of doing what's best for you. You keep thinking you will master this thing, and it's getting the better of you.'"

Although Barrymore had overcome addiction once before, this time felt different. Now there were kids involved, and that complicated her experience and exacerbated the pain. "After the life I planned for my kids didn't work out — I almost think that was harder than the stuff [I went through] as a kid. It felt a lot more real because it wasn't just me. It was about these kids that I cared so much about," she told People.

After a "grace period" following the divorce, her friends got together for an intervention. "I knew that if we all stuck with her and gave her the support she needed, she would find her way," Diaz told the LA Times. "I have absolute faith in her." However, the conversation wasn't enough to get her to step away from alcohol.

Eventually her therapist, renowned celebrity psychoanalyst Barry Michels, ended their relationship after working together for a decade. "He just said, 'I can't do this anymore,'" Barrymore told the LA Times. "It was really about my drinking. I said, 'I get it. I've never respected you more. You see I'm not getting better. And I hope, one day, that I can earn your trust back.'"

She knew the only way she could stick to sobriety is if it was her decision. So when she learned of the opportunity to host her own talk show, she had to make a choice. "I think the opportunity at a show like this really hit me," she said. "I was like, 'I can't handle this unless I'm in a really clear place.'"

That and her kids helped save her. "It was my kids that made me feel like it's game time," she told People.

In August 2019 she quit drinking after shooting the pilot for "The Drew Barrymore Show." It was then she realized she needed to be rooting for herself. "You seem to be so inspired by everybody else, but you treat yourself like s—," she told the LA Times. "When are you going to be enough for yourself?"

In January, her show was renewed for a fourth season. And two years after her therapist quit, she reached back out to Michels to tell him she knew she was capable of change. Now they work together again.

"I feel like I've slayed more dragons than I ever have in my whole life."

These days, Barrymore said she's the happiest she's ever been — something she views as a choice rather than a magical state of being. Now she's focused on being a mother, which she calls "the role of my life," to daughters Olive, 10, and Frankie, 8. "I realized that just with me and my girls, I am truly happy," she said. "I'd always thought I'd be on this hamster wheel for this whole life. But maybe there will be something different before the lights go out."

In the December 2022 issue of Drew magazine, Barrymore discussed the impact it's made on her life three years later. She described her journey in an especially candid edition of the publication's "Take Care of Yourself" essay. Per "Entertainment Tonight," the "Never Been Kissed" star called her journey with sobriety "one of the most liberating things in my journey of life" and a true act of self-love. She also encouraged her readers to make space for similar acts of self-care.

"One of the bravest things you can do is slay those dragons and finally change an awful cycle in which you've found yourself stuck. For me, it was to stop drinking," Barrymore wrote. She added that on a personal level, giving up alcohol was a way for her "to finally become free of the torture of guilt and dysfunction." While not everyone needs to ditch alcohol specifically, the point, according to Barrymore, is simply acknowledging that it's alright to make yourself a priority.

Ultimately, "This has been the best decade of my life, without question," she told People. "It wasn't just the most awesome, it was the one where I feel like I've slayed more dragons than I ever have in my whole life."

— Additional reporting by Melanie Whyte

If you or someone you know is struggling with an alcohol use disorder, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) has resources available including a national 24/7 helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). You can also send your zip code via text to 435748 (HELP4U) for treatment referral and information services.