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Dennis Quaid’s rueful memories of a blown past

Quaid first tried cocaine when he went to Hollywood in 1974.

Dennis Quaid regrets all those years he spent doing cocaine, he tells Newsweek. The actor, 57, first tried the drug when he went to Hollywood, in 1974. “It was very casual at first,” he says. “That’s what people were doing when they were at parties. Cocaine was even in the budgets of movies, thinly disguised.” Coming from a lower-middle-class upbringing in Houston, he started using the drug to help him cope with celebrity.

By the late 1980s, around the time he was shooting the film The Big Easy, his addiction was full-blown. “I was a mess. I’d wake up, snort a line, and swear I wasn’t going to do it again that day. But then 4 o’clock rolled around, and I’d be right back down the same road like a little squirrel on one of those treadmills.”

One night in the 1990s, he says, “I had one of those white-light experiences where I realized I was going to be dead in five years if I didn’t change my ways.” The next day he was in rehab, which thankfully cured him. “Those years recovering actually chiseled me into a person. If I hadn’t gone through that period, I don’t know if I’d still be acting.”

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