After spending a few years away from the public eye—and under nearly constant speculation from the internet, the media, and fans—Amanda Bynes has returned to the spotlight to tell her own story. In a new interview with Paper Magazine, Bynes spoke candidly about her past, her experience with substance use, and how she's now managing her sobriety while studying at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles.
Bynes said in the interview that she started using cannabis at 16 and eventually began using other drugs.
"Later on it progressed to doing molly and ecstasy," she said, adding that she tried cocaine three times but "never got high from cocaine. I never liked it. It was never my drug of choice."
She also admitted to misusing Adderall, a drug commonly prescribed in the treatment of ADHD and ADD. "I definitely abused Adderall," she said, explaining that she was able to get a prescription for the drug by seeing a psychiatrist and "faking the symptoms of ADD."
In particular, Adderall affected her behavior while on set for the 2011 movie Hall Pass, a project which she eventually pulled out of. "I remember being in the trailer and I used to chew the Adderall tablets because I thought they made me [more] high [that way]," she recalled. "I remember chewing on a bunch of them and literally being scatterbrained and not being able to focus on my lines or memorize them for that matter."
The combination of not being able to remember her lines and "not liking" her appearance in the film caused her to leave. From there, Bynes became convinced that she should stop acting, and her public behavior became more erratic (including a few memorable episodes on Twitter), which she attributed to her drug use in the interview.
Everyone's experience with drug use is different. And although many people are able to use drugs like alcohol and cannabis without developing a substance use disorder, others have a more difficult time. "For me," Bynes said, "the mixture of marijuana and whatever other drugs and sometimes drinking really messed up my brain. It really made me a completely different person. I actually am a nice person. I would never feel, say or do any of the things that I did and said to the people I hurt on Twitter."
And when she wasn't using any drugs, she "was completely back to normal and immediately realized what I had done—it was like an alien had literally invaded my body. That is such a strange feeling."
Even more difficult than dealing with serious substance abuse issues is having to do it all in the public eye.
Bynes said that those "armchair psychiatrists" who tried to diagnose her life from afar were particularly frustrating. "It definitely isn't fun when people diagnose you with what they think you are," she said, referring to all the headlines that tried to attribute her behavior to mental illness. "That was always really bothersome to me. If you deny anything and tell them what it actually is, they don't believe you. Truly, for me, [my behavior] was drug-induced, and whenever I got off of [drugs], I was always back to normal."
As SELF explained previously, trying to diagnose someone's behavior from afar is never OK. Not only are you likely to be inaccurate when diagnosing someone without proper training or a detailed in-person discussion, you'll also be perpetuating the stigmas we already have about people with mental illnesses and, ultimately, contributing to the sense of shame that makes it less possible for people who do need treatment to actually reach out and get it.
Bynes has now been sober for almost four years, and her advice to anyone experience substance use issue is to "be really careful because drugs can really take a hold of your life." For her, "days of experimenting [with substances] are long over. I'm not sad about it and I don't miss it."