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    Dennis Quaid Talks 1980s Cocaine Habit: "Basically I Just Had My Head Stuck Up My Ass"

    Dennis Quaid Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

    Great balls of fire!

    Dennis Quaid is more than a veteran actor with a great smile. He's also a former addict who kicked a cocaine habit 20 years ago.

    "By the time I was doing The Big Easy, in the late 1980s, I was a mess," Quaid writes in a personal essay for Newsweek, noting that he started using casually when he got to Hollywood in 1974. "I was getting an hour of sleep a night. I had a reputation for being a 'bad boy," which seemed like a good thing, but basically I just had my head stuck up my ass."

    And bent over a table, apparently...

    MORE: Dennis Quaid sues over twins' near-fatal overdose

    "I'd wake up, snort a line, and swear I wasn't going to do it again that day," Quaid continued. "But then 4 o'clock rolled around, and I'd be right back down the same road like a little squirrel on one of those treadmills. The lack of sleep made it so my focus wasn't really there, which affected my acting. Addiction just keeps you from living; you're basically hiding from life."

    After a night when he realized he "was going to be dead in five years" if he didn't stop, he checked into rehab.

    Quaid says that his recovery years in the 1990s—he married Meg Ryan in 1991 and their son, Jack, was born the following year—finally "chiseled [him] into a person."

    And since Quaid says he doesn't know if he'd still be acting if he hadn't gone through such a transformative period postrehab...

    Well, then we're doubly glad he did.

    WATCH: Quaid's Soul Surfer costar, Carrie Underwood, discusses making the true-life story

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