Drew Barrymore Gets Candid About Her Year and a Half Inside a "Psychiatric Ward" at 13

Drew Barrymore opened up to Howard Stern about her mother admitting her to a psychiatric ward when she was only 13 years old. See what the actress learned during the experience here.

By Cydney Contreras Feb 23, 2021 3:34 AMTags
Watch: Drew Barrymore Dishes on Motherhood & "Ever After"

Drew Barrymore may have been a child star, but her childhood in La La Land was far from glamorous.

In a new interview with Howard Stern, the actress offered new details about being placed in a "full psychiatric ward" by her mother for 18 months.

"I used to laugh at those like Malibu 30 day places," she recalled. "Malibu was sort of the opposite of the experience I had. I was in a place for a year and a half called Van Nuys Psychiatric. And you couldn't mess around in there and if you did, you would get thrown either in a padded room or get put in stretcher restraints, and tied up."

The Charlie's Angels actress explained that her mother, Jaid Barrymore, admitted her to the facility because she was a reckless child star with "too many resources." She admits, "I was going to clubs and not going to school and stealing my mom's car and, you know, I was out of control. So, you know, sometimes it was as humorous as that and sometimes I was just so angry that I would go off and then I'd get thrown in the thing."

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The "thing" Drew is referring to is a padded room, where she'd be forced to "cool out" for hours on end, sometimes while her hands were tied behind her back.


She acknowledged it was an extreme form of discipline, but with time she realized it was what she needed. "I asked myself like why is this happening. And I thought, maybe you need the craziest form of structure because everything was so accessible available and screwed up in your world that maybe it's going to take something like this for you to kickstart the rest of your life," she explained. "And that didn't come for probably about six to eight months. The first six to eight months I was just so angry. I couldn't see straight."

Looking back at the ordeal, Drew said she has a greater understanding of her mother's decision to commit her.


"I think after, you know, 30, years of therapy, and a lot of soul searching and having kids myself, you know, I think she created a monster," she reflected. And she didn't know what to do with the monster."

It was through those three decades of therapy that Drew learned to "forgive her for making this choice." The actress said, "She probably felt like she had nowhere to turn. And I'm sure she lived with a lot of guilt for years, about creating the monster but then I think she lived in a lot of pain that I also wouldn't talk to her for a long time."

Their relationship is now in a much better place, and has taught Drew a lot about the type of mother she wants to be. She shared, "I said to my own daughter... something came up and I said I'm not your friend. I'll never be your friend; I'm your mother. And I had a mother who was a friend, and we're not going to do that."

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That being said, the talk show host says she doesn't hold anything against her mother. "I can't have her feel bad anymore. I'm sure she's already made the crap out of herself for having a daughter who wouldn't speak to her," Drew says. "I mean, the pain that I went through from that—I felt so guilty. Denying my mom access to me, it felt like I was cutting off the source of life. It was as hard of a feeling as I've ever experienced. Definitely the worst pain I've ever known."

At the same time Drew sought emancipation from her mother, she also became sober, but her relationship with food and alcohol changed when she divorced Will Kopelman in 2016. Drew told Howard she "definitely turned to drinking and eating" after their split, but had to seek help when she realized she was "slowly dying inside."


Rather than seeking treatment, the actress says she turned to her loved ones, describing, "I luckily have really great friends who are real ass kickers and who are really honest with me—I've always chosen that no bulls--t group."

Some of those same friends have been featured on her talk show, except for one person who surprisingly shut down her offer. According to Drew, she has one "really good old friend that like wouldn't give the time of day."  

Howard guessed Lucy Liu to Hugh Grant, but it seems like this is one secret Drew will take to her grave.