Drew Barrymore celebrates turning 49 after overcoming ‘broken’ personal life that left her shocked she’s alive

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Drew Barrymore reflected on her past and hopes for the future ahead of turning 49.

On Wednesday, the actress shared a video on Instagram in which she was seen walking outside in a park while she mused on marking the last day before her birthday on Thursday.

“Last day of 48. What do I want to bring with me into 49? What do I want to leave behind? That is the question! I think I have my answers!” Barrymore wrote in the caption of her post.

Drew Barrymore opened up about overcoming her difficult past ahead of turning 49. (Bruce Glikas/WireImage)

Since skyrocketing to fame at the age of 7 after starring as Gertie in Steven Spielberg’s classic science fiction film “E.T. The Extraterrestrial,” Barrymore has faced a number of struggles including substance abuse problems, rehab stints, a stay in a psychiatric facility and three divorces. 


The “Charlie’s Angels” star, who is mother to daughters Olive, 11, and Frankie, 9, has now been sober for five years.

In an interview with Us Weekly ahead of her 49th birthday, Barrymore opened up about surviving her past and how she was able to change her life story.


“I’ve had a ‘bad girl’ narrative on my back my whole life,” she said. “I thought I deserved bad things. Now I’m raising two daughters. I can’t do that to myself anymore. Kind of like the drinking — I’m picking off things one at a time, going, “I can’t carry you anymore. You aren’t good for me.”

Barrymore continued, “The personal part of me has been the ultimate work in progress. The professional in me feels really brave and never entitled. Always so privileged and grateful. I’ve lost everything. I’ve got it back. I’ve lost it again. Got it back. So I don’t assume anything stays.”

“I know not to take anything for granted,” she added. “Whatever difficult times I’ve gone through professionally, I believed I could rewrite things. Then in my personal life, I was a failure and a broken person. I can’t f—— believe I’m alive sometimes.”

“And it’s the first time in my life, going on 49, that [the personal and professional] are complementing each other. Time is the greatest asset we have — it allows things to get better, to shift, to have light come into a dark space. It has taken my whole life to get here, but I’m so happy to be out of the jail in my mind.”

Drew Barrymore then and now split

Barrymore has weathered a number of ups and downs since rising to fame at the age of 7. (Getty Images)

After landing her breakthrough role in “E.T.,” Barrymore became a child star, but she was plagued with substance abuse problems from an early age. Due to her sudden fame, Barrymore’s troubled childhood and hard partying early teenage years played out in the glare of the media spotlight.

When Barrymore was 13, her mother, Jaid Barrymore, placed her in rehab. The “Charlie’s Angels” star later spent 18 months in a psychiatric institution. At the age of 15, Barrymore legally emancipated herself from Jaid, and her father, John Barrymore.


The California native has been married and divorced three times and shares daughters Olive and Frankie with her ex-husband Will Kopelman. Barrymore continued to struggle with substance abuse into adulthood and has previously said that her drinking problems were exacerbated by the pain of divorce.

In 2019, Barrymore made the decision to stop drinking, previously explaining that her children and her talk show motivated her to embrace sobriety.

Drew Barrymore in a colorful printed dress tilts her head and smiles for the camera

The talk show host has been sober since 2019. (Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

During her interview with Us Weekly, Barrymore reflected on her journey to becoming sober.

“I drank for, oh God, since I was nine,” she said. “And then one day, I just thought, ‘I’m never going to do this again.’ I don’t have cravings. I have alcohol all over my house. I serve people drinks. It’s a confident choice. But it took me 35 years to get there. So, once I got there, I was really done.”


Barrymore continued, “But when I stopped, everything didn’t fall into place. I then had to really go to work and start figuring out how to build myself up and get in touch with why I was drinking like that. It was my coping mechanism. I loved the way that alcohol emboldened me. The anxiety went away. It makes you feel like an immortal that can handle anything.”

“And then the next day you are living in that chemical aftermath and you feel worse,” she added. “It wasn’t a new concept to me; it was something I knew my whole life did not work for me. I kept saying, “I’ll master this one day.” And sometimes it’s as simple as just getting so sick of yourself wanting to do something for the majority of your life, and one day, it finally clicks.”

Drew Barrymore at the Time 100 Gala

Barrymore said that she has learned to celebrate her past and not dwell on regrets. (Photo by Nina Westervelt/Variety via Getty Images)

“The Drew Barrymore Show” host also said that she doesn’t spend time dwelling on regrets and has learned to celebrate her past.

“I’ve had great relationships, most of whom I’m still really good friends with,” Barrymore said. “[The secret to that is] enjoying your history and never allowing yourself to be with someone who’s going to beat you up about it. That’s so toxic.”


She continued, “I love my crazy youth. Part of why I’m single now is because I had so much fun. Part of why I don’t miss drinking is because I did.” 

“I’m glad I had a nudist, exhibitionist, wildflower, wild-child, little wood nymph time. I’m glad I partied. I’m glad I was wild with boys. I’m glad I was wild in every way, shape and form because it led to my contentedness with a quiet life now. And it was fun. I’m not apologetic. I’m not mad at myself about it.”

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