Tim Allen Says He Was 'Lost' Before Serving Time in Prison on Cocaine Charges in His 20s

Tim Allen was arrested in 1978 and pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges 

Tim Allen
Photo: Michael Tran/FilmMagic

Tim Allen is reflecting on the past mistakes that landed him in prison in his 20s.

The Home Improvement star appeared on an episode of the WTF with Marc Maron podcast on Monday and opened up about his past struggle with substance abuse and his 2-year stint in jail after pleading guilty to drug trafficking charges.

"I was an eff up," Allen, 67, told host Marc Maron.

"After my old man died, I really just played games with people and told adults what they wanted to hear and then stole their booze," he continued. "Really I was Eddie Haskell [from Leave it to Beaver]: Yes, Mrs. Cleaver. No, Mrs. Cleaver, I knew exactly what adults wanted — make your bed, be polite, use a napkin — and then I'd go steal everything in the house."

Tim Allen Mug Shot

Allen — now nearly 23 years sober — said he began drinking at age 10, inspired by cowboy movies that showed men riding horses and drinking whiskey. "That stuff's gotta be pretty damn refreshing," he thought at the time.

By the time his father was killed in a car crash when he was 11, he was already an experienced drinker. "I was lost," he said of his adolescence.

In 1978, when he was 25, Allen was arrested at the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport in Michigan with over a pound of cocaine in his luggage. He pleaded guilty to the charges and was sent to federal prison for two years and four months.

"I just shut up and did what I was told," he said of his time in jail. "It was the first time ever I did what I was told and played the game... I learned literally how to live day by day. And I learned how to shut up. You definitely want to learn how to shut up."

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

"I don't say this lightly and anybody who has been incarcerated [knows], it's surprising what the human being will get used to," he added. "Eventually after eight months, I got used to it. There were okay times. Saturday we got better food. Eventually, I went from a holding cell arrangement to my own cell."

Now, looking back, Allen says he's "grateful" for his sobriety and his current life.

"I love my life," he said. "I'm not any more mentally stable, I have the same issues I had. Now, I can't hide from them."

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please contact the SAMHSA substance abuse helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.

Related Articles