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Academy Award Winner Marlee Matlin Commemorates 30 Years of Sobriety

Academy Award winner Marlee Matlin took to Twitter on January 10th to commemorate a particularly significant occasion: 30 years, to the day, since she got sober.

The now fifty-one-year-old actress entered rehab in 1987, seeking recovery from her addiction to cocaine and marijuana. While in treatment at the Betty Ford Center, she learned of her Oscar nomination for the film Children of a Lesser God. 

In her memoir, I’ll Scream Later, Matlin detailed this experience, stating of that time, “Only a handful of people knew I was going to rehab at the Betty Ford Center the next day. I had virtually no support for my decision.”

Her then-boyfriend, actor Bill Hurt, had been attending treatment at the center for his own addiction prior to Matlin entering rehab. Matlin later reflected that Hurt was, “the only person encouraging me,” and that, “everyone else thought whatever problems I might have with drugs weren’t that serious.”

Matlin, who lost her hearing as a toddler, has long-since served as an advocate for the deaf community. She first began acting in stage productions as a child, and went on to earn the starring role in Children of a Lesser God at the age of 19. Behind the scenes of her budding career as an actress, though, her struggle with substance use intensified.

In I’ll Scream Later, Matlin speaks candidly of the sexual abuse that she suffered in her childhood. Her drug use began at age 13, and she noted that her behavior was “very rebellious.”

Today, as she celebrates 30 years clean, she thanks all those who were involved—and continue to be involved—with her recovery. In her Twitter post, she poses with her 30-year chip. As she thrives in her sobriety, she is a celebrated actress, a dedicated wife and mother, and a person who has overcome adversity throughout many stages of her life.

Matlin once stated in an interview with Ellen DeGeneres, “Had I not gotten sober, I don’t even know if would have had a career after Children of a Lesser God, or even if I would be alive. It was really that bad for me. So each day is a wonderful celebration.”

As she moves ahead into her fourth decade of sobriety, she exemplifies hope and opportunity in recovery, and serves as a role model for those facing similar battles.

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