Jodie Sweetin, best known for her role as Stephanie Tanner on “Full House,” first started drinking alcohol at the age of 13, when she began her trip down a slippery slope of alcoholism and addiction.
Sweetin, who has now been sober for five years, returned to Chapman, her alma mater, March 8 to speak about her struggle with alcoholism and addiction. The University Program Board Director of Awareness Sneh Chawla said that the event cost about $10,000.
Sweetin, an ‘05 alumna, said that throughout high school, she struggled with alcoholism, which only worsened when she attended Chapman. She said she participated in multiple 12-step programs and went to rehabilitation centers, but relapsed several times.
“I love coming out and sharing my story, because I’ve made it to the other side and it’s continual work, but getting to come to a place where I am happy with my life is amazing,” Sweetin told about 275 students in Memorial Hall.
Sweetin described what it was like to be adopted because her biological parents were in prison, and growing up balancing acting with school. She said that she would go to school during the day, practice her lines during lunch, do homework in the car and film “Full House” in the afternoons.
“From a very early age, I learned to balance work, life and responsibilities. I lost that ability at around 20, and I had no idea how to balance anything, but when I was five, I was great at it,” she said.
Sweetin said that after “Full House” ended when she was 13, she started drinking. When she eventually attended college at Chapman, she said that her parents didn’t want her to live on campus because they didn’t want her to continue drinking. She said she was able to convince them to let her live on campus – in Pralle-Sodaro Hall room 405 – as long as she went home for the weekend.
“My brain was already so warped by alcoholism that what I told myself was, ‘Great, now I can drink and party Monday through Thursday, and I can go home Friday, Saturday and Sunday, relax a little bit, sleep and come back and do it again. I somehow failed to remember that I was supposed to be going to classes amongst all of this,” Sweetin said.
Sweetin said that in high school, she was able to balance her alcoholism with school and graduated with honors, but in her first semester at Chapman, she received a 0.9 GPA.
For one of Sweetin’s classes during her second semester at Chapman, a professor brought in two former addicts to discuss their experiences with becoming sober. It was after this, Sweetin said, that she attended her first 12-step program meeting.
Sweetin has been sober since March 2011 and is now working on a “Full House” spin-off called “Fuller House,” which is on Netflix.
Read a Q&A with Sweetin here.