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Former Child Star Says He Used Drugs & Food to "Numb His Feelings"

Actor Josh Peck opened up about his struggles with addiction in a new interview.

From 2004 to 2007, Josh Peck starred on the Nickelodeon comedy Drake & Josh. But while the show was a light-hearted look at the family life of two teenage boys, Peck was dealing with much more difficult struggles than the ones shown on the sitcom. In a new interview with People, Peck shared that he relied on drugs, alcohol, and food to "numb his feelings" before seeking help and becoming sober. The 35-year-old actor is also opening up about his struggles with addiction in his new book, Happy People Are Annoying. Read on to find out what the former child star said about finding fame young and coping with personal demons.

RELATED: This Former Child Actor Quit After "Devastating" Star Wars Experience.

Peck was insecure about his weight growing up.

Josh Peck, Jennifer Garner, and Drake Bell presenting at the 2004 Kids' Choice Awards
Frank Micelotta/Getty Images

Peck with People that he turned to comedy because it was a "defense mechanism" for him.

"I spent most of my life dying to be typical but I grew up with a single mom, I was overweight, and I was a musical theater kid who really had no social status," he said. "Comedy was my natural defense mechanism."

Peck lost weight in his teens, but it didn't help him feel better mentally. "It became clear that once I lost the weight that I was the same head in a new body," he explained.

He then turned to drugs and alcohol.

Josh Peck at the premiere of "Ice Age 2: The Meltdown" in 2006
Tinseltown / Shutterstock

Upon realizing he felt the same after changing his body, Peck started drinking and using drugs, including cocaine. This lasted from his teens to his early 20s.

"What is really clear is that I overdo things," he told People. "And then I discovered drugs and alcohol. And that became my next chapter. I used food and drugs to numb my feelings."

He continued, "I had this illusion of becoming more confident and attractive when I was partaking. I was trying to quiet that voice that woke me up every morning and told me I wasn't enough."

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He got sober in 2008.

Josh Peck at a Stand Up to Cancer event in 2008
s_bukley / Shutterstock

Peck has been sober since 2008, when he was 22 years old and one year post-Drake & Josh. Before he made a change, the actor explained, he was getting a reputation in the business for being "unstable and erratic."

"I had worked so hard for this thing and I was getting very close to losing it," he added.

"I was always looking for something outside to fix my insides," Peck explained. "But eventually I realized that whether my life was beyond my wildest dreams or a total mess, it didn't change the temperature of what was going on in my mind. I knew that nothing in the outside world would make me feel whole."

After Drake & Josh, Peck went on to star in the movie The Wackness and has appeared in TV shows including The Mindy Project, Grandfathered, and Fuller House. He currently stars in How I Met Your Father and also starred in last year's Turner & Hooch series on Disney+.

He has a more peaceful life these days.

Josh Peck and Paige O'Brien at the 2014 BAFTA LA Jaguar Britannia Awards
Angela Weiss/Getty Images for Jaguar Land Rover

Peck told People that he is in much better place now, and that includes being married to his wife, Paige O'Brien, and being father to their three-year-old son, Max.

"It took me a really long time to love the 15-year-old version of me," he said. "But now I understand how strong he was. And I feel like everything in my life set me up to find this chapter of health, peace, and contentment."

He inspired a co-star when it came to their sobriety, too.

Josh Peck and John Stamos at the premiere of "Turner and Hooch" in 2021
Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock

Peck worked with John Stamos on the sitcom Grandfathered in 2015 and 2016. In an interview with Collider in 2021, Stamos shared that Peck helped him through his own journey to sobriety.

"I think I was meant to meet Josh Peck," Stamos said. "Josh Peck was a big inspiration in my recovery. Right around that time, I was going down the wrong path and I had to straighten out. And then, I'm on this show with this guy who was then in recovery for many, many years, playing my son. That part was meant to be. I wouldn't be alive, if I hadn't straightened up, and he was certainly part of it."

RELATED: A Former Child Star Just Explained How She "Blew All Her Disney Money."


Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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