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In her memoir unSweetined, Jodie Sweetin shares her struggle with alcohol and drug addiction. Known for her time as Stephanie Tanner on Full House and more recently on the Netflix reboot Fuller House, Sweetin opens up about her addictions, despite their ugliness. Although her addiction is not a secret to the public, she uses the pages of her memoir to reveal the emptiness that brought her to these addictions and what gave her the strength to find her way out.
Throughout her years on set, the cast of Full House became like family to her. Sweetin recounts some of the fun times on set, along with some of the pressure she felt to be her best at all times. At one event, fans were pushing and crowding the table where she was signing autographs so much that they had to remove her from the location. Later, people were complaining, saying that they could not believe that she would do that to her fans. It was a struggle for her at that age to balance her desire to please others with her need for rest and safety.
“I was just too young to understand that it was OK to have my own limits and boundaries.”
After her time on Full House ended, Sweetin felt empty. Although there were some opportunities to visit with the cast, she was forced to move on to the next thing. She made attempts to get other roles, but most directors could not see her as anything but Stephanie Tanner. Frustrated by failed attempts to keep her acting career going, she entered high school feeling like an outsider in both school and Hollywood. At Full House co-star Candace Cameron’s wedding, she was offered a drink. She continued drinking until she was drunk, and ended up vomiting in the bathroom. In the years following that first drink, she found herself in the throes of drug and alcohol addiction.
Jodie Sweetin’s story gives us a glimpse at some of the reasons people turn to addiction.
In exploring the history of her alcohol and drug addictions, Sweetin reflected on some of the reasons for her addictions. While the loss she felt over Full House ending was a major contributor to her addiction, other things led her down that path. Despite knowing she didn’t have much of a reason to drink, she still felt like a shell of a person. Her parents did not tell people that she was adopted for fear that they would think they were exploiting her in Hollywood, but her adoption may have contributed to her addiction. Her biological parents had addictions, and she knew that it could make her more prone to addiction.
“A big chunk that I felt was missing in me had been filled that day by drinking.”
The biggest reason she felt she was addicted to alcohol and drugs, though, was that she felt she was not enough without them. Without drugs, she wasn’t the funniest or the prettiest girl in the room. With them, she could make people laugh. When she had drugs and alcohol, people wanted to be around her. People wanted to talk to her and to get to know her. The part of her that she felt wasn’t ever good enough was gone when she had that first taste of alcohol.
She also shows us that having something to live for can help someone fight addiction.
When Sweetin was at a low point in her addiction, her first husband helped get her into a rehab facility. It was there that she was able to get clean and sober for a time. She had counseling several times a day and had friends inside who were going through similar things. Because of the idyllic nature of the facility, it was easy to stay sober while inside it. However, once on the outside of this facility, Sweetin quickly found her way back to drugs, despite the fact she was working as a motivational speaker (sharing her story about beating addiction) at the time.
“Love is wanting something more for someone else than you do for yourself.”
When Sweetin became pregnant, she finally found the motivation to get sober. Once she found out about her pregnancy, she did not use drugs or drink. Now married to her second husband, she realized that he was an unpleasant and emotionally abusive man. After the birth of their child, she began to drink as an escape from her miserable marriage. At one point, she even drove away, drunk, with her daughter in the car. However, she realized that she needed to get clean if she was going to be able to leave the marriage and retain custody of her daughter. She moved in with her parents and worked hard at sobriety.
At the time of the book’s publication (2009) she was still fighting for custody and several months sober. Today, she has a second daughter and is working as a motivational speaker and on the set of Fuller House. She found the strength to get clean by looking outside herself and looking at what was really important: her daughter.
I found this to be an all-around enjoyable read. While Jodie Sweetin covers a lot of mature material in the book, she writes in a tactful way that conveys her current regret for some of her past mistakes. She explains her past and current feelings, showing readers growth over time and her recovery from addiction. Although this book is significantly dated, it is still worth reading for any Full House or Fuller House fan.