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Dark Details About Drew Barrymore's Childhood — And How She Overcame It

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Drew Barrymore

Actress Drew Barrymore has been in the spotlight since she was a child, making her film debut in the 1980 movie "Altered States."

Despite achieving fame at such a young age, Barrymore didn't have the easiest childhood and has been open about her struggles with an addiction that developed when she was only 12.

Recently, Barrymore started trending on social media after a video of her frolicking in the rain and uploaded to her TikTok account went viral.

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In the short clip, the "Charlie's Angels" actress is seen in the courtyard of an apartment building during a downpour, telling viewers: "Whenever you can, go out into the rain. Do not miss the opportunity."

Numerous users praised the actress’s joy for life, with some fans pointing out that it seems as if Barrymore is healing her inner child, hinting at her tumultuous childhood.

Here are dark details about Drew Barrymore's childhood.

At eight years old, Barrymore was given her first alcoholic drink.

In a 1990 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Barrymore spoke about a wrap-party she attended with her mother, Jaid Barrymore, for the sci-fi horror film "Firestarter."

Left alone, Drew ended up talking to two crew members she'd befriended while filming.

She insisted that she was able to drink two champagne glasses, no problem. 

"No, I bet I can," Drew told them after noticing their hesitancy. 

“I was tipsy and bubbly, and the life of the party,” she told Winfrey. “I felt so good. All my problems had seemed to disappear for that hour that I was out of it.”

Achieving fame at a young age thrust Drew into situations that weren't suitable for a child her age, and led her down a path that took her decades to eventually overcome.

In a candid interview with The Guardian, she shared even more details of her past.

Drew Barrymore was raised in an abusive household.

Her father, John Barrymore, who was also an actor, suffered from alcoholism and was often "violent" and Jaid had little to no understanding of what it meant to assume "parental responsibility."

When her parents divorced when she was 9, she went to live with her mother, who was involved in performing arts at Studio 54 — a place where Drew would soon frequent.

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By the time she turned 10, she was actively smoking marijuana, and by 12, she had moved on to cocaine. 

By her teenage years, Drew was battling drug addiction.

“When I was 13, that was probably the lowest," Drew told The Guardian. “Just knowing that I really was alone. And it felt… terrible. It was a really rebellious time. I would run off. I was very, very angry.”

When her mother learned of Drew's addiction, she checked her into a rehab facility.

When she relapsed at 13, her mother admitted her to a mental health facility.

"She created a monster, and she didn’t know what to do with the monster. This was her last gasp," Drew told Howard Stern of her mother's decision. "And I was really out of control. And I forgive her for making this choice. She probably felt like she had nowhere to turn."

When she was released from the mental health facility, per the advice of the institution, she legally emancipated herself from her parents. 

"Maybe [hospitalization] was necessary, because I came out of there a more respecting person," she told The Guardian. "And my parents didn’t teach me that, and life wasn’t teaching me that. I came out in a very different way… but I still was me."

When talking about her experience living alone at the age of 14, Drew shared that it was terrifying: "There was fungus growing everywhere, it was a disaster. It was in a dangerous neighborhood and I was so scared to sleep. I had bars on the window and alley cats f-king 30 feet away. I was so terrified.”

At that point, her acting had taken a backseat, courtesy of Hollywood seeking to sever ties with the troubled teenager.

With the scarce acting gigs coming her way, Barrymore spent about three years working menial jobs, including cleaning toilets and working at restaurants.

At 17, Drew landed her first acting gig after the involuntary hiatus, starring in the film "Poison Ivy", before moving on to star in 16 films over the next six years, including "Scream", "The Wedding Singer", and "Batman Forever."

It had been advice from her father that had given her the strength to not fall back into her old habits and to work towards a better future for herself.

“My dad once said to me that expectations are the mother of deformity, and I do not expect anything," she said. "Expectations always got me in trouble. What do expectations really do? They make other people feel like sh-t, then let you down eventually.”

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Nia Tipton is a writer living in Brooklyn. She covers pop culture, social justice issues, and trending topics. Keep up with her on Instagram and Twitter.