Just in case you haven't heard before of Yasmine Bleeth, Bleeth is an American actress, best known for her television roles as Caroline Holden in the long-running 1990's series "Baywatch" and Lee Anne Demerest on the soap opera "One Life to Live".-->
In 2001, actress Yasmine Bleeth had a cocaine habit that was so severe, she collapsed at a Glamour photo shoot, she didn't sleep for five days at a time and she was busted after crashing her car while high on the drug. The question is: "How does Yasmine Bleeth describe her self-destructive habit as well as her path to recovery? Check out below what Yasmine revealed for the first ever to Amy Spencer.
On September 12, 2001 I did something I swore I'd never do: I got behind the wheel of a car while I was high on cocaine. My boyfriend, Paul Cerrito, and I had been staying at a hotel in Michigan while visiting his family, and we were due to fly back to Los Angeles on September 11, the day of the terroritst attacks. After hearing that the airports were shut down, I bought some drugs. The next evening, I was still high when, around 9:30, the two of us got into our rental car.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
I never expected to get into drugs. I'd been on Baywatch from 1994 to 1997, and at the end of my three-year contract, I was offered a role oposite Don Johnson on Nash Bridges, which was shot in the Bay Area. So in June 1998, I moved from L.A. to San Francisco - and away from the man I had been dating for more that two years.
For the first few months, I flew back to Los Angeles every weekend to see him, but the distance was hard on the relationship, and we were having problems. Then during a phone conversation, we got into an argument that made me question our whole relationship. I should have ended it immediately, but I thought working through the problem would be easier than leaving him. You hear about people who are made for each other; I wanted to be one of those people. I was tired of feeling hurt. I was losing faith in love. I just wanted to feel good again. And I knew an easy way to get that feeling.
I tried cocaine twice before - once in my teens, then again in my late twenties. I liked it, but drugs weren't "me." I never smoked cigarettes, and I didn't even drink much. So at first, I just did coke socially on weekends with people I knew.
Three months later, I made my first phone call to a dealer and got some coke to do by my self at home. It was like ordering Chinese food: I made one phone call, and they delivered it to my front door. At first I did it only on weekends, ordering enough cocaine for just one night. It was the one thing about cocaine that I could control - the only thing. Then I started doing it during the week. It was all I could think about: coming home from work at around eight, locking the door, pulling down the shades, putting on dance music and doing some lines. And then I do all kinds of things.
I'd clean out my linen closet. I'd reorganize my photo albums. I'd spend hours plucking my eyebrows, putting on tanning cream, doing a facial. But mostly, I'd shop on the internet. I'd order from Saks Fifth Avenue or Neiman Marcus or Bluefly. It was the biggest joke - I bought all these beautiful things, but I never went out. Forget the money I was spending on drugs - I'd spend literally $5,000 to $10,000 in one night shopping on the Web! I was obsessed. Shopping was instant gratification. Just like the drugs.
Once I started doing drugs alone, I stopped seeing friends, then stopped answering the phone altogether - I just listened to my messages once a day to make sure there were no emergencies. Eventually I stopped doing even that.
The way I saw it, cocaine was easing me throught the problems I was still having with my boyfriend. On cocaine, I didn't think about the problems. I had no pain. I was ecstatic to be by myself all night long. I wouldn't sleep for two or three days, sometimes even four or five.
The early morning hours before, though. I remember watching the hours on the clock tick by and thinking, I can't sleep, I can't sleep. At six in the morning, half an hour before my car was due to pick me up for work, my face and nose would be swollen and I'd panic, thinking, Oh, no, what did I do? But the worst feeling - the most gut-wrenching feeling - was when I realized I was running out of cocaine. I had to remind myself, You'll have more in twelve hours, right after work.
I got a bloody nose on the set a couple of times, but the makeup artist would just hand me a tissue without saying a word and I'd clean it up. If I sounded stuffed up in the morning, I'd give myself a facial or I'd go to the steam room to detoxify my body. And if I was sniffling, my publicist would tell people I had sinus problems, which I do. "Yasmine just had an allergic reaction," she'd say.
Still, I wanted to keep working; it was my one solid base. I never took drugs on the set-never-but because I was doing them until 6 a.m., I'd still be high during the day. Sometimes I'd be so exhausted that I'd fall asleep in my trailer and someone would have to come get me. But I got by. I always knew my lines. And I always got to work on time. It's just that instead of resting when I got home, I'd call my dealer.
The more drugs I did, the less frequently I traveled to Los Angeles to see my boyfriend. About eight months after moving to San Francisco, I stopped visiting him altogether and found that I didn't miss him at all. Then I called him up and ended it. I didn't need that relationship anymore. I had a new boyfriend: drugs.
By the end of 1999, I'd stopped looking like myself. I'm a fleshy girl, very curvy and round, but I'd lost my softness. My friends said I looked like an alien, that my eyes were bulging out of my face. I wasn't anorexic-looking, but instead of being a size 6 with a 29-inch waist, I was 110 pounds and a size 0. I still have a pair of the Earl jeans with the 25-inch waist I wore back then - I can't believe I got them on; they don't even fit over my hips now. My looks were the last thing on my mind at the time, but the changes were more that superficial. I just looked... dead. Those drugs took all the animation away from my face, all the light from behind my eyes.
I was fist confronted with my addiction in L.A., after a photo shoot for the winter 1999 cover of Smoke magazine. I'd had some cocaine delivered, and I left a baggie sitting just inside the top of my purse. When my dad (Yasmine's mother, Carina, died of breast cancer in 1992) stopped by to say hi, he looked at me suspiciously and asked: "Are you sick?" He left early and went back to my house to wait for me. Then on my way home, I couldn't find the drugs I'd bought and I wondered, Did I lose them? What a drag. But when I walked in my front door, my dad was sitting in a chair in the living room, holding the cocaine. He said: "I found this in your bag." And then: "You need to stop." I replied: "Right now I'm not even close to being ready to stop."
As much as my father wanted to help me, there was nothing he could do. Three days later, I flew back to San Francisco to film my second and last contracted season of Nash Bridges, and I spent the following four months avoiding my father. During that time, I accepted a role on the NBC show Titans, and I took a few weeks off from Nash Bridges in Februrary to film the pilot.
In April 2000, after we finished fliming Nash Bridges, I flew back to L.A. But when my dad picked me up at the airport, he took one look at me and started to cry. He said I looked like a shell of myself. "Forget how skinny you are," he said. "It's the rest of you." My nose was big and swollen across my face, and I looked like I hadn't slept in weeks, which I probably hadn't. He said: "Yasmine, you have to let me help you. Will you, please?" Seeing the expression on my father's face and knowing his heart was being ripped out of his body - that was the first time I was truly confronted by how I was affecting other people.
I had three free months before I had to start filming the first season of Titans, so I agreed to let my father help me. He moved into my house in Los Angeles with me, and I stopped doing drugs cold turkey. He took me to a therapist, who asked me: "When you die, what is the one thing you would like to have had in your lifetime?" I said: "Love. I want to have a passionate, loving relationship with somebody I believe was meant for me." He asked: "OK, how are your choices helping you realize that goal?" When I didn't answer, he said: "I'll tell you how: They're making you isolated, and they're making you love something that can't love you back. So really, you're doing everything you possibly can to not get what you want." He was right. He suggested rehab, and I told him I'd think about it.
My dad also went with me to the doctor, who told me I had an infection that had completely eaten out the inside of my nose, leaving it raw and bloody. Essentially, I had gangrene in my nose. I would blow my nose and think it was mucus in the tissue, but it wasn't - it was pieces of skin. The doctor put a small camera in my nose and showed me a hole in my septum between the bridge of my nose and the tip - it was about the size of a dime. He said they could surgically fix it but that I shouldn't think about having it done until I was committed to staying off drugs. The doctor put me on antibiotics and said, "Another couple of months with this infection and it could have gone to your brain and killed you." That scared me. At least until I started doing drugs again six weeks later.
Within a month, I was doing cocaine every day again, staying up for four nights at a time, even after I started filming Titans in July 2000. In September, Glamour asked to photograph me for a possible cover to promote my new show. I was so excited. Yet at four o'clock in the morning on the day of the shoot, I was doing cocaine. At five o'clock, I was doing damage control - leaning over the bathtub, steaming my face to fix it.
At the shoot, I had my hair and makeup done and put on a gorgeous dress, and the photographer, Walter Chin, started shooting me. I felt wobbly and weak and closed my eyes while he was changing film. Then Walter turned a huge fan toward me and the breeze literally knocked me over. I just collapsed. The next thing I knew, I was in the makeup chair, telling the crew: "Let me just lie down for half an hour and I'll be fine." They postponed the shooot indefinately, and a friend picked me up, drove me home and put me to bed. When I woke up, my car keys were gone and my wallet was missing. When I looked in the drawer where I usually kept my drugs, I found only a note that said: "I'm the cocaine Robin Hood. I took your cocaine and gave it to someone who really needed it - the toilet." I still have that note. My friend also took my address book - she didn't know that I had my dealer's number memorized.
A month later, two of my girlfriends showed up at my house to talk to me, and I couldn't sit still. I was shuffling my feet and fidgeting and rocking so much in my antique dining chair that I broke the seat. They didn't even mention the drugs. They just said: "We really miss you," "We're there for you" and "This is really hurting us." I'd already been confronted by my father; I didn't want to be confronted by them too. I didn't want to see the pain on their faces. It hurt so much to hurt them that I finally decided to go to rehab.
My dad talked to (Titans executive producer) Aaron Spelling about my going to rehab at Promises in Malibu, California, and Mr. Spelling said: "We'll give you an extra few weeks after Christmas for the monthlong program." I did drugs right up until the day I entered the program on December 14. I even did drugs in the town car on the way there.
Rehab was easy. There were only about twelve of us there, and I had a single room. We were on a tight schedule: up at seven o'clock every morning, doing chores like cleaning the kitchen or bathroom, then attending individual and group counseling sessions. During the first couple of days, I met Paul, who owns a club in Michigan. They say you shouldn't get into any relationship within the first year of sobriety - especially not with someone in the program. But what can I say? We fell in love immediately. And because of him, I'm sober today. Nothing used to make me feel as good as cocaine until I fell in love. Now the feeling I have when I'm with Paul is better than how I felt on cocaine.
Two weeks after I left rehab, I invited Paul to stay with me in L.A. Titans hadn't been picked up as a regular series, but I was happy to be sober, and I was falling in love. I thought that if ever I could handle doing drugs casually, now would be the time. And I figured, Hey, I stopped in rehab, I can stop again. But once I started doing coke, I lost control and it took over my life again. Paul and I were talking about marriage and wanted it more than anything, but I had learned that I couldn't have drugs and love at the same time. Drugs become your best friend, your lover, your parents - they become everything to you. The only reason Paul and I are together today is because we had some divine intervention: our accident.
THE END - AND THE BEGINNING
After our car slammed into the median, an ambulance, a couple of cop cars, and about ten people showed up. It hadn't even crossed my mind that they might know who I was, until I heard my name over the radio: "It's Yasmine Bleeth."
A cop asked me if I was high. I said yes. I agreed to a blood test and gave police permission to look in my purse. They found cocaine residue in my bag and arrested me. I remember saying: "But I didn't hurt anybody. You're arresting me?" Then it occured to me: oh, that's right, drugs are illegal. That's the scary thing: I'd really forgotten that what I was doing was illegal.
The police handcuffed me and put me in the back of their car. Then they took me to jail to book me and take my statement. I was petrified. I'd been in jail cells on location for TV shoots, but this was terrible. I was given one blanket, and the police took my shoes - standard procedure to prevent the possibility of suicide. "But these are cork wedgies," I said. "How can I kill myself with these?" They let me keep my wrap sweater only after they cut off the strings. Luckily, I was so tired that I just lay down on the hard concrete and slept.
I was released the next morning and spent the next few months at Paul's mother's house in Michigan waiting for trial. It was a safe haven for me, and I loved being there. When I had a craving for drugs, I'd eat instead. My counselors in rehab had encouraged this: They said that when you're trying to get sober, you can indulge yourself in other areas. So I did. I went being gaunt to gaining 20 pounds - the 10 pounds I'd lost doing drugs plus another 10. And I started to feel better.
Finally, in January 2002, the court sentenced me to two year's probation and 100 hours of community service, for which I'll probably work with the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. And on August 25, 2002, nearly one full year after the accident, Paul and I were married at a beautiful resort in Santa Barbara. It was the most magical day of my life.
I wish I could say it hasn't been a struggle staying off drugs this past year. But because cocaine is more mentally than physically addicting, many circumstances trigger my desire for it. So consciously trying to stay off drugs is now part of my life, and it always will be. But I'm happy to do what I have to do. When I went to L.A. for Christmas, I stayed at a friends house instead of my own so I wouldn't put myself in a place where I would be reminded of doing the drug. I wanted to give myself the best possible chance for recovery.
The scariest thing is that I relate cocaine to happy feelings, so now when I'm out at a club dancing, I think for a second, Maybe it wouldn't be so bad, and it would feel so good...Then I mentally walk myself through the entire scenario, the end result of which is me alone in my apartment, not speaking to my friends, not speaking to my family. And probably without my husband. That scares me enough to turn off the urge.
I'm enjoying the simple things again: being social, sleeping in, curling up in a big down comforter. When I was taking drugs, I lost my love for all that. Now I'll stay in bed for two days and tell my friends and family: "Come on over, the door's open."
My addiction didn't really strain my relationship with my dad. In fact, during that time we were closer than ever, because when I tried to pull away, he forced his way back into my life. I'm a very lucky woman.
Through this experience, I've proven to myself that I can't have both drugs and love. And every day I have to make the choice again. So far, I choose love.
Source: February 2003 issue of Glamour magazine.
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