INSIDE STORY: Melanie Griffith's Struggle with Addiction
The Oscar-nominated actress has previously battled alcohol and painkiller dependency
Melanie Griffith knows all too well the challenges of getting – and staying – sober.
The actress, who underwent treatment twice for substance abuse in 1988 and 2000, checked into a rehab facility, her rep said Monday, to “reinforce her commitment to stay healthy.”
Her third stint in rehab marks what has been an on-again, off-again battle with addiction for the past three decades.
Admitting she has “an addictive personality,” Griffith, 52, once told Australian magazine New Idea four years after her first trip to rehab that she’s “lucky to be alive. I was never as bad as some people I knew, shooting heroin and stuff. But I did do a lot of drinking and cocaine. I just thought I was having a good time.”
Her problems first got out of control when the then 18-year-old Griffith was “living in a real wild ‘sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll’ lifestyle” with actor Don Johnson, whom she first married and divorced in 1976 (they later remarried). “I wasn’t very concerned about my future,” she told Parade in August 2000.
Five years later, Griffith married actor Steven Bauer. After the couple split in 1985, Griffith admitted, she turned to alcohol. Her wake-up call came on the set of Working Girl in 1988 when director Mike Nichols pulled her aside after she showed up to the set drunk. Three weeks after the shoot, Griffith entered the Hazelden Foundation in Minnesota.
The daughter of a Hollywood legend – her mother is actress Tippi Hedren – Griffith said she turned to drugs to quell her anxieties and to fill a void starting at a young age.
Replacing Love with Drugs
“I was never loved unconditionally,” she told Vanity Fair in 1994. “Coke, booze give you a feeling, a physical sensation … a buzz inside your body that takes the place of something you should have had when you were a child.” Griffith also admitted that when she was 10 she would drink wine “like a soft drink. I was medicating myself so I could escape my pain and insecurities.”
Ironically it was Johnson who helped her get sober. “The turning point,” says Griffith, was when the actor, who had been drug-free for five years, reconnected with his ex in 1989 during her stay at Hazelden and told her he would support her.
Almost a decade later in 2000, when the actress checked into another facility in California for a prescription painkiller addiction, another man stood by her side: husband Antonio Banderas.
The couple, in a joint interview for Primetime in 2002, told Diane Sawyer that they fought while she struggled with her abuse, which stemmed from a neck injury.
“Without seeing the will in her to repair, you know, yeah,” he admitted when asked if he would’ve left in order to get her to clean up. “It’s a tough thing and she confronted it … she spent time [at rehab] and things became much better.”
For now, Griffith’s latest trip back to rehab will be an uphill climb, according to addiction specialist Dr. David Sack, CEO of Promises Treatment Centers.
“What’s true for anyone who’s been in recovery for a while, sometimes they take their situation for granted,” Sack, who is not treating Griffith, tells PEOPLE. “When you have been doing well, it’s easy to minimize and you forget. You don t want to believe you are still vulnerable … It requires strategy.”
“Overcoming addiction is tough but it can be made easier if you have someone that can offer support,” Griffith once wrote on her Web site. “My husband and family supported me so much through this journey and continue to do so.”
• Reporting by LIZ MCNEIL