Josh Peck Opens Up About His Troubling Past

Kids who grew up in the '90s will recognize Josh Peck from the TV series "Drake & Josh," which aired in the mid-aughts on Nickelodeon, per IMDb. He and his co-star Drake Bell delivered laughs as two stepbrothers both navigating their teenage years. It wasn't the first time that Peck had audiences in stitches –- his breakout role came as a recurring guest on "The Amanda Show" starring Amanda Bynes. With a gift for comedic timing and a nerdy style, Peck excelled not only in front of the camera but in voice work as well. He appeared in a number of films attached to the animated "Ice Age" franchise as Eddie the possum, according to IMDb, and made a number of cameos in Nickelodeon's animated series reboot of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles."

After an impressive transformation, Peck proved his versatility, deftly avoiding the rut of being typecast as the funny best friend to nabbing roles that cast him as an on-screen heartthrob — like his recurring role as a love interest in Season 1 of "How I Met Your Father" alongside fellow former teen star Hilary Duff. But sadly, like a number of other child actors, fame at a young age had negative effects on Peck. Behind the scenes of his oft-comedic roles was a darker story.

Josh Peck struggled with his mental health off-camera

Behind the scenes, Josh Peck's personal life was a not-so-family-friendly reality. "I just wish I could teleport and tell 13-year-old, chubby Josh, that everything was going to work out," the actor admitted in a 2021 interview with Esquire. According to Peck, the actor tried to find recognition outside of kid shows in other genres and projects, but for years, it was to no avail. While Peck said that comedic work was a consistent comfort zone, he often had troubles with self-esteem. 

"I was always looking for something outside to fix my insides," Peck told People in a March exclusive. In his "Drake & Josh" days, the actor was overweight and often turned to food as a source of comfort — and later, to other forms of self-medication, like cocaine use. "I used food and drugs to numb my feelings," Peck explained, adding that these habits were an attempt to cope with a low sense of self-worth.

Peck eventually realized that he was picking up a reputation in entertainment for his bad habits, a revelation that completely turned his life around and put him on the road to sobriety, beginning in 2008. As Peck himself wrote in his 2022 memoir "Happy People Are Annoying," Peck's watershed moment led him to lose a significant amount of weight, get married, and eventually put him on the path to parenthood with the birth of his son Max in 2018 (via People).

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, or know someone who is, help is available. Visit the National Eating Disorders Association website or contact NEDA's Live Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. You can also receive 24/7 Crisis Support via text (send NEDA to 741-741).