For the first time since her retreat from the public eye, Amanda Bynes is opening up about what led to her breakdown and how she's come out on the other side

For the first time since her retreat from the public eye, Amanda Bynes is opening up about what led to her breakdown and how she’s come out on the other side.

The actress appears on the cover of Paper Magazine‘s third Break the Internet special, where she details how drug use led to her very public spiral. Now on the brink of getting an Associate’s degree in merchandise product development and looking forward to getting back into acting, Bynes looks back on her struggles 10 years ago and details how it got out of control.

The Hairspray actress, 32, says that she started using drugs when she was 16 and smoked marijuana for the first time, which she continued doing regularly.

“Later on it progressed to doing molly and ecstasy,” Bynes admits. “[I tried] cocaine three times but I never got high from cocaine. I never liked it. It was never my drug of choice.”

Credit: Danielle Levitt

Although she didn’t use cocaine, Bynes does confess to regularly getting high on another drug: “I definitely abused Adderall,” she says.

Her Adderall use led to her dropping out of the movie Hall Pass, where she remembers being “scatterbrained” from taking the pills. But the real breaking point came after seeing herself in the Emma Stone starrer Easy A. Bynes recalls being so alarmed by her appearance in the film, which she viewed negatively, that it convinced her to quit acting on the spot.

“I literally couldn’t stand my appearance in that movie and I didn’t like my performance. I was absolutely convinced I needed to stop acting after seeing it,” Bynes explains. “I was high on marijuana when I saw that but for some reason it really started to affect me. I don’t know if it was a drug-induced psychosis or what, but it affected my brain in a different way than it affects other people. It absolutely changed my perception of things.”

Bynes went home and sent the infamous tweet announcing her retirement from acting, which she says she now regrets. The actress, 32, says she started “hanging out with a seedier crowd and I isolated a lot” during her darkest moments. “I got really into my drug usage and it became a really dark, sad world for me.”

EASY A, from left: Amanda Bynes, Emma Stone, 2010. ph: Adam Taylor/©Screen Gems/Courtesy Everett Col
Amanda Bynes and Emma Stone in Easy A
| Credit: Everett

From then, the star used her social media platform to document her increasingly worrisome and bizarre thoughts. She went on to have several brushes with the law — including two hit and run charges in 2012 and a DUI arrest (though all three charges were ultimately dropped) — she retreated from the spotlight completely and her mom Lynn was named conservator over her “person”, which includes health and medical decision-making, in 2014.

Though the internet hung on to her every word, including tweets about Drake and her time on Nickelodeon, Bynes admits it’s the thing she regrets most from her public breakdown.

“I’m really ashamed and embarrassed with the things I said. I can’t turn back time but if I could, I would,” she says. “And I’m so sorry to whoever I hurt and whoever I lied about because it truly eats away at me. It makes me feel so horrible and sick to my stomach and sad. Everything I worked my whole life to achieve, I kind of ruined it all through Twitter.”

Now four years sober, Bynes is thriving at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising and is looking forward to continuing on with her Bachelor’s degree next year. She’s also ready to get back into her first love: acting.

As for what made her spiral, Bynes is no longer interested in any substances.

“Those days of experimenting [with substances] are long over. I’m not sad about it and I don’t miss it because I really feel ashamed of how those substances made me act,” she says. “When I was off of them, I was completely back to normal and immediately realized what I had done — it was like an alien had literally invaded my body. That is such a strange feeling…Truly, for me, [my behavior] was drug-induced, and whenever I got off of [drugs], I was always back to normal.”