Being the middle child is never easy.
And playing Stephanie Tanner—little sister of Candace Cameron's D.J. and big sis to the Olsen twins' Michelle—on Full House for the better part of her childhood could've been it for Jodie Sweetin. The stories of the child stars who couldn't quite cut it in adult-size Hollywood are the more common tales in the cutthroat world of acting, while a journey like Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's—from cute TV kids to tween moguls to fashion industry giants—is about as rare as it gets.
The end of Full House almost did Sweetin in. She was 13 when the TGIF staple was canceled in 1995 (despite still being a top-25 show in the ratings), and that's a tough enough age for anybody, let alone a young actress who had been playing a role since she was 5 and was all of a sudden out of a job.
And so the spiral began.
While she didn't fall out, or even lose touch, with her Full House family, Sweetin was the one who seemed to have the most trouble readjusting to regular life in those first years after the show ended. (Mary-Kate Olsen would later have health troubles that required treatment, but she and Ashley were only 8 in 1995.)
"I probably had two bottles of wine, and I was only 14," she wrote in her 2009 memoir unSweetined, recalling the night of Candace Cameron's wedding, when she married Valeri Bure. "That first drink gave me the self-confidence I had been searching for my whole life. But that set the pattern of the kind of drinking that I would do."
She only had two acting credits for the rest of the '90s, on the Joey-Matt-and-Andrew Lawrence sitcom Brotherly Love and on Party of Five, but Sweetin had gone back to school in the meantime, graduating from Los Alamitos High School in 1999 and enrolling at Chapman University in Orange, Calif. She graduated from college in 2005.
But starting to drink when she was a young teen had set her on a destructive course. Her career for the most part on hold, she was in and out of 12-step programs and rehab throughout her late teens and 20s while battling drug and alcohol abuse.
"From a very early age, I learned to balance work, life and responsibilities," she told an audience of Chapman students on a visit to the school this past March, per the university paper, The Panther. "I lost that ability at around 20, and I had no idea how to balance anything, but when I was 5, I was great at it."
Sweetin said she convinced her worried parents (her mother, also an addict, put her up for adoption when she was 9 months old, and she was raised by an uncle and his wife; her father was killed in a prison riot) to let her live on campus—which ultimately led to a 0.9 GPA her first semester. Having done Ecstasy in high school, cocaine became her drug of choice in college.
"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."
After a professor had two former addicts come in and speak to a class during Sweetin's second semester, she was motivated to try her first 12-step program. It didn't take, but that's when she started what would be the decade-long process of getting clean for good.
In college, Sweetin met police officer Shaun Golguin and they married on July 27, 2002, when she was 20.
"I don't have any desire to ever act again full time," she reportedly said around that time. "I don't mind doing occasional guest appearances on shows, but I have other things I'd like to do in my life now. I would like to get into teaching actors and starting a family with Shaun."
Instead, a couple of years later Sweetin tried crystal meth for the first time and, six months later, had an "all day every day" habit.
In her book, she remembered being high on meth at the red carpet premiere of the Olsen twins' movie New York Minute in 2004—which was in the middle of the day.
"I was pulling off the deceit," Sweetin wrote. "It was hard for people to believe I was doing that much drugs. I look at photos from that event, and I didn't even look strung out!"
"Everything revolved around my addiction," she told People in 2008 about her time using meth. "On a typical day I'd wake up and feel terrible because I hadn't done any. You're either trying to get it, doing it or worrying about when you're going to get it next. You don't even realize that it's taken over so quickly."
Her weight plummeted from 130 pounds to about 100 pounds, but her husband "had no idea" why.
She graduated from Chapman in 2005 while basically leading a double life; also that year, a trip to the hospital after a night of too much partying prompted her to finally tell her family she had a problem and needed help.
After six weeks of inpatient treatment at Promises in Malibu, and while she was residing in a sober-living house, Sweetin and Holguin decided to divorce; their split was finalized in February 2006. "My husband and I went through some definite trust issues because of all the lying," Sweetin told People that January. "He and I are going through a divorce, but we're still really good friends. It's not ugly."
Sweetin obviously had her recovery to focus on and that was going well—plus, she was hosting the unforgettable Pants-Off Dance-Off on Fuse—when she met Cody Herpin, who was working as a driver and transportation coordinator on film sets, in May 2007. They tied the knot on July 14, 2007, and welcomed daughter Zoie on April 12, 2008, leading to Sweetin's famous "From Meth Addict to Mom" cover of People magazine.
That's also when Sweetin started visiting colleges to speak out about her struggle with addiction, hoping to help troubled or potentially at-risk students, a form of outreach that is still a part of her life to this day.
"I think that at a time right now when people are so divided and only looking at the differences of all of us, I think it is very important that we all come out and share our stories, no matter how ugly or messy or not perfect they are," she told a Chapman reporter last month when she spoke at the school. "I think that when we share our stories and when we share the things that make us human and make us real, that that's really the important stuff."
Sweetin revealed to People in 2008 that she still had some savings left from Full House, which lasted for eight seasons and remains in syndication, but had of course dipped into them to pay for college, buy a house and, ultimately, attend rehab.
Sadly, the period of domestic bliss quickly soured.
Sweetin filed for a legal separation from Herpin in November 2008, stating in court documents that their house was in foreclosure and all of their bills were overdue. Herpin had stopped working after they got married and only Full House residuals and help from her parents were keeping them solvent.
"I was the stay-at-home dad, my job was taking care of Zoie," Herpin, who was seeking sole custody of Zoie, told People a few weeks later.
"That was the big rock bottom," she wrote, adding that she got sober for good on Dec. 7, 2008, when she got a call that the court was having an emergency custody investigation due to her drinking. The call came after she had just downed Nyquil and a bunch of booze.
"From that day forward, I threw myself into going to AA and avoided people who do blow off their coffee tables," she wrote.
Her divorce from Herpin wasn't finalized until April 2010, with TMZ reporting that Sweetin was ordered to pay her ex about $600 per month in child support. Fast-forward to this month, and Sweetin was reportedly ordered to pay Herpin $10,000 in retroactive support, as well as $2,000 per month going forward until Zoie, who's now 9, turns 18.
Meanwhile, on Aug. 31, 2010, Sweetin welcomed daughter Beatrix with musician and DJ boyfriend Morty Coyle, who would later pop the question at her 29th birthday party on Jan. 18, 2011.
Also in 2011, she and Full House co-star Dave Coulier appeared on the web series Can't Get Arrested, which Coulier explained at the time was a way for him and Jodie to poke fun at all the tabloid headlines they'd been a part of over the years, as well as at their still-famous-but-not-exactly-in-demand status.
Sweetin and Coyle married on March 15, 2012, but most people wouldn't find out about it for at least a year.
"We had wanted to keep it quiet and intimate for a while, but felt that on our first wedding anniversary, it was time to share," Sweetin explained their quiet nuptials to People.
Once again, however, she reconsidered fairly quickly and filed for legal separation in June 2013. Sweetin revealed during a recent college speech that she relapsed after the split; she had moved in with her parents, her two daughters in tow, and was in a car accident, after which she was prescribed pain meds.
Pulling herself out of that situation inspired her to go back to school to train as a drug and alcohol counselor, she told students at Slippery Rock University in November. At the time, however, in 2013, she told TMZ Live that Coyle had started the rumor she was back in rehab. "Breakups are hard and certain people don't make them easier," she said. "People get weird and stalkerish... You never really know someone until you break up with them."
Sweetin filed for a divorce in February 2015 and relations seemed to have warmed by then, with Coyle telling Us Weekly , "I wish Jodie all she wants out of life. Just like with Cody we'll all always be co-parents to those precious, loved girls and that's our unorthodox but supportive family forever. Listen to All Day Sucker's new album Denim Days for anything else you may want to know. No hard feelings."
Their split was ultimately finalized last September; she and Coyle share custody and agreed that either could demand an emergency drug test via hair follicle sample if one suspected the other of driving Beatrix under the influence.
But although it didn't work out with Coyle, by 2015 Sweetin had a new boyfriend, Justin Hodak, and her career was about to get back on track. Fueled by the seemingly nonstop interest in the nostalgic pull of yesteryear's entertainment, Fuller House was in the works, and the entire gang was back together, minus the Olsen twins. ("Michelle" was off doing something fashion related in New York.)
Hodak popped the question in January 2016 and Fuller House premiered the next month to middling reviews but massive fan appreciation, and was quickly renewed for a second season.
Then in spring 2016, Sweetin finally got to compete on Dancing With the Stars—something she had wanted to do for nearly a decade, having told People in 2008 she was "begging" to do the show.
She and partner Keo Motsepe finished in sixth place, being eliminated in most surprising fashion, right after getting a perfect score on their week eight jive.
"We worked so hard every week. We set goals for ourselves and we met them…I came to the show and I didn't realize the amazing experience that I would have," Sweetin gushed to E! News afterward. "Walking away from it I just feel really blessed and grateful to have done it."
Fuller House's second season hit Netflix in December—and now a third season is due this year.
The drama continued to rage behind the scenes, however.
"I don't get tattoos, I get husbands," Sweetin quipped during a talk at Slippery Rock University in November, per the campus paper The Rocket.
But it doesn't look as though Justin Hodak is going to be husband No. 4 after all.
Not long after noting in March at the Kids' Choice Awards that their wedding plans were a little up in the air, Sweetin ended the engagement.
Hodek has been arrested several times since they broke up. He was first taken into custody after March 18 when Sweetin called police to report he was threatening to commit suicide. Officers found a gun at her home that belonged to Hodek and, being a convicted felon, he wasn't supposed to be in possession of a firearm.
Sweetin secured a temporary restraining order against him the next day; he was arrested March 24 for showing up at her house anyway. Then Hodek was arrested March 27 when the cops spied him driving by the house again.
"We appreciate everyone's concern," Sweetin's rep told E! News. "While it's been a difficult few weeks for Jodie, the justice system is at work and bringing forth what we hope to be a conclusion to this chapter. She looks forward to putting all of this behind her and moving forward and, as such, we will have no further comment on this matter. Thank you."
Despite her ex's alleged disturbing behavior, Sweetin has appeared to be in good spirits in recent days.
In addition to the third season of Fuller House coming up, the 35-year-old actress is also starring in a new comedy on Pop TV called Hollywood Darlings, in which she, 7th Heaven's Beverley Mitchell and Step by Step's Christine Lakin play exaggerated versions of their former child star selves.
"I walked away from the business for a little bit and now I get to come back and do it again, and do it successfully," Sweetin told E! News. "I'm so grateful for that. You get a sense of gratitude for this career as an adult that you don't really get as a child." Moreover, she was excited to be doing a decidedly "adult comedy," as opposed to the super-family-friendly fare she's known for from Full (and Fuller) House.
And on Thursday the actress celebrated being able to wear two normal shoes for the first time in months, having been on crutches and then in a boot with a broken ankle and tibia. In January she had attempted to hop a fence while retrieving a toy for Beatriz, and it didn't go well.
"Ok you guys... may seem silly, but big news!! I have matching shoes on!! Woo hoo! I don't have to wear the giant boot anymore! I'm not very fast, and still going to physical therapy, but this is a big deal! Haha! Yay!! #grateful #goodietwoshoes#progress #itsthelittlethings."
At this point, having experienced so much—after three marriages, multiple trips to rehab, raising kids, times of career feast and times of famine—if anyone understands how to appreciate the little things and seize those moments of gratitude, it's Jodie Sweetin.
As she said herself last month, to her alma mater's newspaper, about being on Fuller House, 21 years after the original first aired, "To come back full circle and to have walked away from something that I thought that' this is it, this is done at age 13,' and then have it be coming back and be sharing it with my daughters, and my parents come to every taping—it's just a really neat, full circle moment for me. It's not necessarily the big stuff, but it's those little moments that I really hold on to."