True Lies Actor Tom Arnold Comes Clean About Addiction Recovery

You may recognize Actor Tom Arnold, from his comedic roles in movies and on television. But it hasn’t been all laughs for this Hollywood star, he’s had a life-long struggle with addiction. Arnold’s drinking began at the young age of 12 in the Midwest where he was born and raised.

Hollywood Highs and Lows

“Alcohol just became my thing,” he said to American Addiction Center, “Addiction Talk Host” Joy Sutton. ”I told myself, I’d never do drugs…but that only lasted until I got out of high school.”

In the late ‘80s, Arnold came to Los Angeles to pursue a career in comedy and soon was brought on as a writer for the sitcom “Roseanne.” But writing for a hit sitcom came in second to his daily habit. “I thought hey, I’m making a lot of money now, I can buy a lot of cocaine.”

Things changed when his boss and future wife Roseanne came into his office and confronted him about his drug use.“I remember thinking not that I’m going to quit, but that I’ll have to hide this from her.”

Soon, Roseanne and Tom got engaged and moved in together. He recalls coming home one night “wasted” and expecting the worst.

“I thought she was going to hit me or kick me out, but she hugged me and said I’m glad your home.”

The next day he checked into rehab.“It was a moment of clarity for me, and it cut through everything.”

Arnold credits Roseanne for getting him to rehab but he knew he had to do this on his own. “You must put yourself first, that is the only way recovery is going to work.”

Arnold was able to stay sober for 19 years.

Throughout the ’90s, Arnold maintained his sobriety, grew his career, and he even served as a sponsor to the late comedian Chris Farley. Arnold met Chris Farley on Saturday Night Live. Farley played Arnold during a comedy sketch. SNL Producer Lorne Michaels suggested that Arnold should “talk” with Farley. “I knew what that meant,” says Arnold. “I had been clean for 3 years and Chris was struggling.”

Arnold held an intervention for Farley. “Chris tried to get out of it at first, but we had a professional there and he ended up going to treatment. That was the first of 17 rehab stints for Chris Farley.

Having a Support System Can Save Your Life

In 2008, Arnold was involved in a motorcycle accident. The crash resulted in him breaking his scapula and he was prescribed pain medication for the injury. Despite his years in recovery, Arnold again experienced addiction.

In 2010, a health scare and close call was the catalyst for seeking treatment once again. Due to his continued substance use, Arnold’s colon ruptured, he became septic, and spent three weeks in a coma. Since that time, he has experienced a few relapses but has now been sober for more than five years.

“For 35 years, I’ve always gone to 12-step meetings and have always had a sponsor,” he says. “That is what saved my life.”

Arnold knows that relapse is part of the disease of addiction.

“If, or when you relapse, you must remember all the good things you did before, all the people you’ve helped and all your service still counts. Relapse is a part of recovery. Everyone has a different journey.”

His advice to those in recovery is to be around people who are like you and who support you.

“You want to get to a point where you are feeling better about yourself and if you’re not there yet, keep at it.”

He continues to work on the True Lies TV series, reoccurring television roles, and standup comedy.

But for him, his most important role is: father. “The biggest reward for my sobriety is being a dad and being there for my kids.”

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