Edie Falco Talks Addiction, Recovery and ‘Nurse Jackie’
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Edie Falco Talks Addiction, Recovery and ‘Nurse Jackie’


Edie FalcoHollywood has always had a bizarro and complicated relationship with addiction, sobriety and the recovery scene. On one hand, there are tons of creative folks with excesses of personal experience with addition—I mean, the stereotype that addiction seems to disproportionately affect “tortured soul” artistic types is, well, kind of true. So I’m always interested when I hear a celebrity talking about their own journey through sobriety; it humanizes them and brings home the idea that alcoholism and addiction can impact anyone, of absolutely any walk of life.

In this “Fresh Air” interview with NPR, the adorable Edie Falco (yes, of Sopranos fame) discusses her role on Showtime’s Nurse Jackie. On the show, she plays a pill-addicted nurse who finally got sober after years of hiding her addiction from everyone she knew. Last season, Jackie finally got it together, got sober and began attending 12-step meetings; as the new season opens this week, she now has almost one year of sobriety under her scrubs. But…not for long. Right before heading to the party that’s supposed to celebrate Jackie’s clean and sober year off drugs, she pops one final pill she’d been saving for unknown reasons (comfort? self-sabotage? fear?). And just like that, the nurse’s sobriety goes out the window.

Edie Falco can probably relate. As she describes on “Fresh Air,” Falco has long fought her own struggle with addiction. So how much does she relate to Jackie? She says: “The addiction piece, I have to say, is a huge part of my life. Not just my own, but that of many people I love. The helplessness around that and learning to deal with that, and all the various 12-step programs I’ve been a part of over the years and how much they’ve helped me and how hard it is to love somebody who is going through that and remain distant enough to not let it crush you each time. All that stuff is of tremendous interest to me. That keeps me very deeply involved in Jackie’s journey.”

The cool thing about Jackie’s journey is that it’s portrayed fairly realistically for once. Not many people who go to AA  stay sober continuously for the rest of their lives; slip-ups are painful but they do happen.  And they happen a lot. Some folks believe that relapse is a part of recovery, that it’s almost impossible to avoid. Folks come and go, weaving in and out of the program depending on what’s going on in their lives. Catching a semi-accurate depiction of a woman’s struggle to stay sober is refreshing and Falco does a great job of showing it. They say write what you know but acting what you know can clearly be just as effective.

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About Author

Laura Barcella is a documentary researcher, author, freelance writer and ghostwriter from Washington, DC. Her writing has also appeared in TIME, Marie Claire, Salon, Esquire, Elle, Refinery29, AlterNet, The Village Voice, Cosmopolitan, The Chicago Sun-Times, Time Out New York, BUST, ELLE Girl, NYLON and CNN.com. Her book credits include Know Your Rights: A Modern Kid's Guide to the American Constitution, Fight Like a Girl: 50 Feminists Who Changed the World, Popular: The Ups and Downs of Online Dating from the Most Popular Girl in New York City, Madonna & Me: Women Writers on the Queen of Pop and The End: 50 Apocalyptic Visions From Pop Culture That You Should Know About…Before It’s Too Late.