Jamie Lee Curtis is opening up about a dark period in her past.
The Halloween star, 59, tells PEOPLE that she’s lucky to have survived a secret addiction to opiates that began in the late ’80s.
“I was ahead of the curve of the opiate epidemic,” Curtis says in this week’s cover story. “I had a 10-year run, stealing, conniving. No one knew. No one.”
Curtis has a long family history of addiction. Her father, Some Like It Hotactor Tony Curtis, abused alcohol, cocaine and heroin. Her half-brother Nicholas Curtis died from a heroin overdose in 1994.
The actress says she was prescribed opiates for the first time in 1989 after minor plastic surgery “for my hereditary puffy eyes.” She spent the next decade getting painkillers any way she could. She even stole pills from friends and family, including her older sister Kelly, who was the first person to find out about her addiction in 1998.
Curtis attended her first recovery meeting in February 1999. She told her husband of 33 years, actor-director Christopher Guest, about her addiction that day. The couple has two kids: daughter Annie, 31; and son Tom, 22.
“I’m breaking the cycle that has basically destroyed the lives of generations in my family,” Curtis says. “Getting sober remains my single greatest accomplishment… bigger than my husband, bigger than both of my children and bigger than any work, success, failure. Anything.”
The veteran actress has been sober for nearly 20 years and says she continues to attend meetings, offering help to others who are struggling with addiction.
“In recovery meetings, anyone who brings up opiates, the entire room will turn and look at me, because I’ll be like, ‘Oh here, talk to me. I’m the opiate girl,’” she says.
Curtis is revisiting the role of Laurie Strode in Halloween, which launched her acting career 40 years ago. The new sequel broke box-office records after its $77.5 million domestic opening weekend — the biggest opening ever for lead actress over the age of 55.