The real reason you don't hear about Yasmine Bleeth anymore

Even if you didn't watch Baywatch (1989-2001), chances are you totally recognized lifeguard Yasmine Bleeth. But in the decades since her unceremonious exit from the iconic '90s drama, Bleeth quickly went from posing for magazine covers to complete obscurity. What prompted her abrupt exit from Hollywood? Here's what we know.

She battled drugs

Just as her career was skyrocketing in Hollywood, Bleeth reportedly began to develop an intense addiction to cocaine. 

Bleeth told Glamour in 2003, that her drug problems were triggered by her rough relationship with then-boyfriend Richard Grieco. "I was tired of feeling hurt. I was losing faith in love. I just wanted to feel good again," she admitted (via Baywatch TV). "And I knew an easy way to get that feeling."

Bleeth, who around that time had left Baywatch for Nash Bridges (1996-2001), said she initially used cocaine casually and socially. However, things took a turn for the worse when she began using the drug on her own, and her addiction began to take a toll on on her work life, physical appearance, and relationships. 

"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," she told Glamour. "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."

She continued, "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."

She went to rehab and got arrested

According to Glamour (via Baywatch TV), Bleeth's addiction continued to intensify. At one point, she said she developed "an infection that had completely eaten out the inside of my nose, leaving it raw and bloody." She added, "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.'"

She continued to use cocaine, and more health scares followed. She even collapsed on the set of a photo shoot before finally agreeing to go to rehab. 

Bleeth's trip to rehab proved futile, and she reportedly began using again shortly after her release. Then, in September 2001, she was arrested after crashing her car into a median in Detroit. According to People, she reached a plea bargain in November that year and pleaded guilty to "possessing less than 25 grams of cocaine and to driving while impaired." She was sentenced to two years' probation and 100 hours of community service.

She was fired from her most iconic role

Speaking to Esquire magazine in 2012, Baywatch producer Douglas Schwartz revealed that Bleeth was let go from the show after four seasons due to her drug habits and relationship drama. She "was doing drugs at the time," he said (via Us Weekly). "And so we were dealing with Yasmine not showing up and having difficulties, again with men. That's why we let Yasmine go off the show: because it was too difficult to deal with her after awhile."

Recovery is a lifelong battle

After hitting rock bottom, Bleeth decided to sober up for good, but the road to recovery is one that never really ends. She admitted this much while discussing the early days of her recovery with Glamour in 2003. "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," she said (via Baywatch TV). 

She met the love of her life

Bleeth met the man she would later marry, Paul Cerrito, during her stint in rehab. Despite the awkwardness of their first encounter, she told Glamour that the relationship is what ultimately helped her get off—and stay off—drugs.

"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," she confessed (via Baywatch TV). "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."

Of course, their road to tying the knot in 2002 wasn't easy. In fact, Cerrito was with Bleeth when she crashed her car in Detroit. She explained the situation to Glamour. "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."

She ostensibly quit acting

Bleeth's acting career ground to a halt right around the time her personal life hit rock bottom. Her last completed credit listed on IMDb is Baywatch: Hawaiian Wedding (2003). 

It's unclear whether she left Hollywood to recover, or if the roles simply dried up as a result of her personal woes (or both). However, given all she went through, the fact that she's no longer running along the beaches in a red bathing suit should surprise absolutely no one.

She finally came out of hiding

After years away from the spotlight, cameras began catching glimpses of Bleeth in 2015. In January that year, she made a public appearance at the 55th annual Penguin Plunge in Venice Beach, Calif. According to Us Weekly, that marked the first time she'd been photographed by the paparazzi since 2003. The following month, the Daily Mail published photos of Bleeth taking a walk around Hollywood with her husband.

Of course, years have passed since those photos were published, suggesting Bleeth's triumphant return to Hollywood may never happen. Whether or not we see her act again, we'll continue to cheer her on as she moves ahead from a truly dark chapter in her life.