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Leah Berenson
Leah Berenson
October 10, 2023 ·  4 min read

This Child Star Was Locked In ‘Institution’ at 13 Then Became a Rom-Com Star Who Retired from Films to Raise Kids

Drew Barrymore is a household name, with kitchenware, and appliances. However, she was famous long before, not only is she gorgeous and hilarious, she’s a top Hollywood actress. Performing in films like The Wedding Singer, Never Been Kissed, E.T., Charlie’s Angels, and 50 first dates, America has had the privilege of watching her grow. However, there’s likely far more complexities to her life then most people know.

Drew Barrymore Makes Her Appearances

Drew Barrymore was born in Culver City, California on February 22, 1975, into a family of elite entertainers. Seemingly, her life was a fairy tale, one that stemmed from having a wealthy family. She began, or was thrust, into her acting career at only 11 months old. She appeared in a dog food commercial and her fame only rose from there.

At five years old she appeared in a Sci-Fi horror film called “Altered States”. Although she became known in the public eye, it wasn’t until 2 years later that her fame would skyrocket. She starred in E.T. by Steven Spielberg and from there was in the spotlight constantly. She was an adorable little girl who captured the hearts of many. However, she had a dark secret that would ultimately lead to the unraveling of her whole life.

Enduring a Rocky Childhood

She had a tumultuous relationship with her parents, from whom she ultimately became emancipated at just 14 years old. Numerous, and likely traumatic, events lead to that decision traumatic events. Events that would have been a struggle for anyone to endure, let alone a small child.

Although she came from a well off and well known family, they were far from perfect. Her father was an alcoholic and her mother was a “wild and reckless” parent, to say the least. Drew Barrymore was also the product of divorce. Occurring when she was only 9, the young girl was thrown into the party scene by her mother. At Studio 54, the young actress was introduced to drugs, alcohol, and even encounters with famous young men. Between the ages of 12 and 13, Drew Barrymore became a full-blown addict attempting to take her own life. “When I was 13, that was probably the lowest. Just knowing that I really was alone. And it felt… terrible.” She disclosed.

Drew Barrymore Makes Lifestyle Changes

After slitting her wrists and being hospitalized for months, she believed the only way to begin her journey of healing was to “divorce” her parents, which she did at only 14 years old. She’s also known for having a history of unreliability, likely attributed to her “party girl” lifestyle. Sadly, she was unemployable at 15 years old, cleaning toilets in order to care for herself. Her love life was seemingly as challenging as her relationship with her parents, being married then divorced twice by the time she reached her mid 20’s.

Interestingly, Drew Barrymore may be one of the most relatable celebrities in Hollywood. She has at times felt out of place in life, suffered from depression, and strives to be the best wife, mother, and career woman possible. Perhaps her most relatable, and admirable, quality is her desire to break the toxicity of her own upbringing, giving her children a life they will have very little, if anything, from which they’ll need to recover.

Drew Barrymore Makes Another Comeback

Some of her most recent projects include the “Santa Clarita Diet” and a book full of “poignant essays” in which she highlights her struggles and life experiences. She offers the public an inside look into her mind, and life experiences including those from her most heartfelt achievements. Drew Barrymore’s journey through motherhood as been a powerful one, during which she chose to stay out of the spotlight and give her kids the best possible life. The book is titled “Wildflower” and differs significantly from her first book, “Little Girl Lost“, which she co-wrote at only 15 years old.

Last year, some pictures of Drew Barrymore surfaced from her childhood. One in particular was posted by the actress herself, showing a young Drew Barrymore wrapped up in her bedding, captioned, “Live footage of me this morning when I figured out I couldn’t stay in bed all day, so I took everything on the bed with me.” Fans couldn’t help but all in love all over again, with many commenting hearts and smiles. While others swooned over her long standing career. In fact, she’s received over 30 awards and more than 60 nominations throughout her lifetime.

Drew Barrymore has a sense of humor, an important element of learning to cope with the hardships of life. Everyone has struggles and heartbreak to overcome. Luckily, when other people’s struggles are in the public eye it can be advantageous for the general public in order to gain some perspective on their own hardships. She has faced numerous obstacles including being an addict, being institutionalized, suffering with suicidal thoughts, and had her whole life made public since her early childhood. Her history of challenges from which she eventually recovered enough to become a mother, writer, and producer, have not stopped her from becoming happy, healthy, and successful, not to mention a pure beauty inside an out. Ultimately, living her best, albeit not always punctual, life!


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  2. Drew Barrymore.” Britannica
  3. Drew Barrymore: ‘My mother locked me up in an institution at 13. Boo hoo! I needed it’.Guardian Simon Hattenstone. October 25, 2015.
  4. The Tragic Real-Life Story Of Drew Barrymore.” Nicki Swift. Mariel Loveland. January 25, 2023.