Tragic Details About Jodie Sweetin

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This article includes mentions of addiction, mental health struggles, domestic violence, and sexual assault.

In 1987, Jodie Sweetin earned her first TV credit, a guest spot on the sitcom "Valerie." That same year, the world was introduced to Sweetin as the adorably sassy Stephanie Judith Tanner on "Full House." On the show, Stephanie was known for her iconic catchphrase delivery (admit it — you can practically hear her saying, "How rude!"). She stumbled into minor mishaps that paved the way for heartfelt life lessons. And, for anyone not familiar with "Full House," the Tanner sisters' mistakes and missteps always ended on a happy note, with the girls wiser and more well-adjusted as a result of whatever hardship had prompted one (or more) of their three father figures to sit down with them for an end-of-episode heart-to-heart.

Few real, living, breathing humans enjoy the kind of always-happy-ending-filled life in the world of '90s sitcoms, but IRL, Sweetin has been through more trials and tribulations than most. From her struggles with alcoholism and drug addiction to her experiences with mental illness and sexual assault, the actor has faced adversity many times. Here are some of the most tragic details about Jodie Sweetin's life.

Jodie Sweetin never knew her biological parents

On "Full House," Jodie Sweetin's character, Stephanie Tanner, is raised by her dad, Danny Tanner, her Uncle Jesse, and her dad's best friend, Joey, after the tragic death of her mother. In real life, Sweetin's guardian situation was also nontraditional. She was adopted by family friends after her biological mother, who spent time in jail, gave up her parental rights when Jodie was just a baby. Her biological father died in a prison riot, Sweetin shared on the "Steve-O's Wild Ride!" podcast. "I am who I am, and I survived. I've had some obstacles thrown at me, but I've also had some really wonderful experiences," she said.  That's life, right? Like, you sometimes start off in a sh***y place and then it's not so bad."

During a 2021 interview for the "Allison Interviews" podcast with Allison Kugel, Sweetin said she believes both of her parents have passed away at this point and that she's "totally okay" with that fact and has come to terms with her adoption (although she admits that there was a time when she struggled with it). "There's this point in your life where you finally kind of realize what happened. That it no longer becomes something about you, that it's like, 'Oh, I wasn't wanted,'" she explained. "It was like, 'No, they actually made the healthiest decision for me by allowing me to be adopted by another family that could provide better.'"

She lost her dream job while in middle school

Losing a job is almost always tough. Losing a job that you love can be truly devastating. Most people don't have to worry about that particular life stressor until they've made it to adulthood, but Jodie Sweetin went through the experience much earlier in life. In a 2006 interview with ABC News, Sweetin acknowledged that being a child star forced her "to grow up very fast" and said that the lifestyle of acting from a young age "has its benefits and it has its drawbacks."

Dealing with the job loss as a child (and a gig that many adult actors would consider a dream job, at that) was one of the drawbacks. Sweetin was just 13 years old when "Full House" was canceled — an experience that not every kid has. As reported by the Los Angeles Times, the series' cancelation occurred when the eighth season finale was already underway, leaving the cast, crew, and fans without the closure they would have appreciated.

"There is a certain sense of loss when a series ends," Jodie Sweetin explained to ABC News. "It is kind of hard to figure out who you are when you've lost your job at age 13, when that was basically how you identified yourself."

Jodie Sweetin was teased in school about Full House

Even when she was starring on "Full House," Jodie Sweetin was enrolled at a regular school and attended classes there as much as her filming schedule would allow. In her 2009 memoir "Unsweetined," the star revealed she was teased as far back as elementary school, where she admitted she once got so fed up with one particularly relentless bully that she threw her blue plastic chair at the girl.

Sweetin's bullies didn't let up when "Full House" ended. When she started high school, the star was immediately targeted by people who either teased her about her acting career. At her freshman welcome dance, Sweetin wrote, an older boy kissed her. She thought he was interested in her, but later found out that he had a girlfriend and had been dared to kiss the famous new student. She shared that rumors about her started early, that she was never comfortable anywhere on the campus, and that jokes about her "wrote themselves."

The actor struggled with addiction

Jodie Sweetin has been very open about her substance abuse issues, including the very "Full House"-centric origin story of her addiction. In her memoir, "Unsweetined," the actor revealed that she first got drunk when she was just 14, at her co-star Candace Cameron Bure's wedding. "That first drink gave me the self-confidence I had been searching for all this time," she wrote. But once multiple drinks took effect, as Sweetin explained, "All I can remember was feeling like absolute hell."

When she was still in high school, Sweetin started abusing cocaine; she eventually started doing ecstasy, coke, and meth, too. By 2004, her addiction was so bad that she was down to 102 pounds and "didn't care about getting caught," she wrote in her book. That year, she snorted meth (which she kept in a lip gloss container in her purse) at the premiere of the Olsen twins' movie "New York Minute." She wrote that she "was high as a kite" at the event and that people who knew her well "could tell something was wrong and were shaking their heads at me — judging, disapproving."

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).

Her drug use ended her first marriage

In 2002, when she was 20 years old, Jodie Sweetin married Shaun Holguin, a Los Angeles police officer. At this point in her life, Sweetin reportedly wanted to focus on starting a family. A couple years into the marriage, however, Sweetin started using meth, which she told People became an "all day, every day" habit within six months of trying the drug. In 2006, Sweetin told ABC News that she was "living a total double life" during the height of her meth addiction and that her husband "had no idea" she was using.

"The amount of lying and covering up was insane," she told People. "I would be doing drugs in the bathroom and Shaun would knock on the door, asking me if everything was okay and I would just lie to him. I lied about why I wasn't sleeping, why I'd lost 30 pounds. I got down to about 100 pounds." In 2005, a very intense night of partying landed Sweetin in the hospital and inspired her to finally seek help for her addiction and go to rehab. In spite of the healthy steps she took toward sobriety, the months of lying and deception took a tremendous toll on her marriage, and Sweetin and Holguin divorced in 2006.

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).

Jodie Sweetin lied about her sobriety

After Jodie Sweetin went public with her addiction struggle, she started getting offers to speak about her experiences, especially at colleges and universities, in the hopes that other young people could be helped or inspired by her story. Unfortunately, as she later revealed in her memoir "Unsweetined," the star was still struggling to maintain her own sobriety at the time. 

She spoke to students at Marquette University in 2007 about beating her drug addiction, but had secretly done cocaine moments before her address — and other drugs in the days before the talk. "I stood up at the podium, looked around the room, and put on my best TV smile. ... They didn't think I was coming down from a two-day bender of coke, meth and Ecstasy, and they didn't think I was lying to them with every sentence that came out of my mouth," Sweetin wrote of the Marquette talk. "I finished. They applauded. Standing ovation. Just how I liked it," she added.

Sweetin shared in her memoir that she took these speaking engagements, in part, because she needed money to fund her addiction, but she also wanted the story of recovery and sobriety to be true. In a confessional during her time on "Dancing with the Stars," Sweetin explained (via ET), "The darkest moments for me weren't necessarily winding up in the hospital or anything like that. It was those quiet moments alone when I just hated the person that I'd become."

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).

She compromised her daughter's safety due to drinking

When Jodie Sweetin learned she was pregnant with her first daughter with then-husband Cody Herpin in 2007, she was motivated to stay sober for her child's sake. Unfortunately, the actress relapsed again in 2008, just months after her daughter, Zoie, was born. In a 2009 interview with Us Weekly to promote her memoir "Unsweetined," she described hitting "rock bottom" when she drove under the influence while Zoie was in her care. "I had two glasses of wine and drove with her in the car. I not only put myself in danger, but also my daughter, who I loved more than anything. I felt terrible."

Sweetin finally "got sober for good" on December 7, 2008, when her drinking put her custody of her daughter at risk. After "drinking a sh*tload" and "taking a bunch of Nyquil" ahead of a flight to Los Angeles, Sweetin was informed that her drinking had triggered an emergency custody investigation, which turned out to be the final wakeup call she needed. "From that day forward, I threw myself into going to AA and avoided people who do blow off their coffee tables," she told Us Weekly. In an interview for "Today" in November 2009, the actor took ownership of the bad decisions she had made, but said she was hopeful that Zoie "will never have to see some of the things I did before."

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).

She had to get a restraining order against her ex-fiance

In March 2017, Jodie Sweetin made headlines for a different aspect of her personal life when news broke that she had filed a restraining order against her former fiance, Justin Hodak, as a result of a "violent argument" they had in the home they shared at the time, according to court documents obtained by TheWrap. Hodak reportedly employed "harsh and abusive language." 

The outlet noted Hodak's "history of drug abuse," which is relevant to his alleged marijuana and alcohol abuse on the date when the argument took place. Hodak reportedly "threatened to commit suicide if [Sweetin] made him leave. He then escalated the conflict by pulling down a seven-foot bookcase, which blocked the doorway to the room that Sweetin was in, effectively trapping her there," as detailed in the restraining order filing (via TheWrap). Finally, the ex-boyfriend revealed and threatened use of a gun, which the document says he took with him when he eventually left the house.

"Looking back I feel terrible for what happened, it went too far," Hodak told the Daily Mail of the incident in June 2017. "I'm super remorseful. I just don't know where it all came from, but there was no domestic violence, I would never hurt Jodie." Hodak added that he felt "set up" and that "it was a situation that could have been avoided."

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Jodie Sweetin stands with survivors

On September 27, 2018, Jodie Sweetin shared a very personal part of her story, revealing in an Instagram post in support of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford that she was also a survivor of sexual assault and saw a lot of her own experience reflected back during Ford's testimony about Brett Kavanaugh before the Senate Judiciary Committee. "I stand with her. I AM her," Sweetin wrote in the caption of a picture of herself wearing a camouflage jacket with "What doesn't kill you f***s you up mentally" written on the back. "I was the girl who never reported because I blamed myself. I was the woman who never reported because I didn't want to go through the pain and ridicule."

After further discussing the societal treatment of sexual assault survivors, Sweetin concluded, "I will not sit still. I will not stay quiet. Although I may never be as brave or as unflinching in the face of such an inquisition as [Ford] was today, it has given me hope. That maybe, just maybe, female survivors of sexual assault may be heard. Even if our voice is barely above a whisper."

On the "Allison Interviews" podcast, the star also shared her approach to empowering women and raising strong daughters. Sweetin is human rights activist who uses her voice to "be an example to others," especially women. The mom-of-two said, "I think my most important lesson that I teach my daughters is how to be a strong woman, and to love yourself unconditionally.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

She's struggled for years with anxiety and depression

Like many others, Jodie Sweetin has struggled with mental health issues — specifically anxiety and depression. In 2019, the actor marked World Mental Health Day by sharing an Instagram post to raise awareness about people who struggle silently with mental illness. Sweetin posted a picture of herself smiling alongside her daughters Zoie and Beatrix and explained in the caption that, even though she looks happy in the photo, she experienced a panic attack and broke down in tears before it was taken. "When our outsides look good, our insides can still be shattered," she wrote. "Those of us with anxiety/depression/ptsd can walk through the world without anyone knowing just how broken they are."

Sweetin, who has been open about her journey with mental health, knows medication is an important aspect of managing her anxiety and depression. The star said on the "Allison Interviews" podcast, "Otherwise, I struggle with stuff where I'm not getting out of bed ... and that's not how I want to live my life." Even though she actively works to manage her mental health, she admitted that living in the time of a pandemic took a toll on her, causing her to lose 37 pounds. "The pandemic was not good for me. I have severe anxiety and depression anyway, so it really didn't do any favors for my mental health. So, I really struggled with it, and for me it was a time of feeling really out of control."

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

She publicly mourned the untimely loss of her TV dad Bob Saget

Bob Saget's sudden death in January 2022 shocked the entertainment world and left a generation of TV lovers mourning him. Many "Full House" fans who grew up on the '90s sitcom felt like they had lost a surrogate dad, and Saget's TV daughters were all clearly rocked by the loss. 

"There aren't enough words to express what I'm feeling today. Nor are they big enough to capture even a slice of who he was," Sweetin captioned a gallery of pictures of herself and Saget on Instagram after news of his death. "One thing I do know, is that we never missed a chance to tell each other, 'I love you'. Every time we talked, there were at least 3 or 4 exchanged at the end of a conversation... And he usually had to have the last word, 'I love you more,'" Sweetin shared.

The actor followed up the sweet post with other tributes to Saget, including a post explaining why he epitomized what it meant to be a "mensch" and a joint statement from the "Full House" cast that said, in part, "Bob made us laugh until we cried. Now our tears flow in sadness, but also with gratitude for all the beautiful memories of our sweet, kind, hilarious, cherished Bob."