Former Child Star Todd Bridges Talks Addiction, Hitting Bottom

Former Child Star Todd Bridges Talks Addiction, Hitting Bottom

Child star Todd Bridges, who played Willis Jackson on "Diff’rent Strokes," discussed addiction, Corey Haim, and his new book, "Killing Willis," on "Fox & Friends."

“What I try to always explain to people is that we can’t blame Hollywood, it’s not Hollywood,” he said. “Those are bad choices that I made. I made some stupid personal choices. But I can’t blame Hollywood.”

“When the show got canceled is when my whole life fell apart because everything caught up with me,” he explained. “At 12 years old I was molested by my publicist and my father took my publicist’s side."

Bridges said it was after the successful ‘70s sitcom ended its eight-season run that his drug addiction ensued. “People don’t realize that during the process of the show, I was always very professional, so that kind of kept me together,” he said.

Once the actor had more time on his hands, he said he began to deal with his past.
“No one ever goes into addiction thinking that you’re going to get addicted to drugs. You do it to cover the pain up,” he said. “But then when I got caught up in addiction, Hollywood didn’t throw me away, I threw Hollywood away.”

Karen Berg of writes that luckily for Bridges, his mistakes did not cost him his life, as they may have fellow child star Corey Haim, who died last week of an apparent prescription drug overdose.

“A lot of people don’t feel like they have a problem and that’s one of the biggest problems,” said Bridges. “One of the biggest things with Corey Haim was [that he] thought that he was just taking prescription medication, which if you take it according to what the doctor tells you, you’re going to be okay. But if you take it the way an addict is going to take it—take a bunch of them and don’t listen to what the prescription bottle says—that’s what happened.”

Bridges’ co-star, Dana Plato, who played Kimberly on the show, also battled an addiction to prescription drugs and used them to end her life in 1999.

But Bridges’ wake-up call happened years before. “For me, 17 years ago, I woke up one day and decided things had to be a little different,” said the 44-year-old. After pleading guilty to drug possession in 1993, the judge gave Bridges two options: jail or rehab.

“I chose to go to rehab,” he said. “I still wasn’t quite ready at that moment. So when I got in there I got really angry and I got really mad at the hospital [staff]. And they strapped me at four points and I was in there for three days. When you’re in your 20’s and you have a big diaper on and you were on a hit show, there has to be a change in your life,” he said.

Bridges, who has two young children, has advice for parents everywhere. “Never give up on your child. But also, you have to love your child. What I do with my kids is I tell them I love them every day, but also I tell them the truth," he said. "Our parents back then would say, ‘Do as I say, not as I do.’ And you can’t do that anymore. Children need explanations and they deserve explanations."

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