Tatum O’Neal Opens Up About Overdose and Near-Death Experience

Tatum O'Neal
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59-year-old actress Tatum O’Neal is being candid about her struggles. In May 2020, O’Neal overdosed on drugs and suffered from cardiac arrest, seizures, and a severe stroke. All of these medical issues led her to a six-week coma, with her family unsure if she would survive. If she did survive, they feared that she would never walk or speak again. Luckily, she was able to make a full recovery and regained not only her memory but her ability to walk, read, and write.

Now, she’s sharing her story in a series of interviews also featuring her children with ex-husband John McEnroe. On that tragic day in 2020, O’Neal overdosed on a combination of opiates and morphine after a tough couple of years. Her oldest son Kevin shared, “She had become very isolated. With the addition of morphine and heavier pharmaceuticals, it was getting scary. COVID, chronic pain, all these things led to a place of isolation. In that place, I don’t think, for her, there was much hope.”

HOLLYWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 17: Tatum O'Neal attends the 'Chloe Grace Moretz in conversation with TK' during Vulture Festival presented by AT&T at Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel on November 17, 2018 in Hollywood, California

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In addition, she was diagnosed with aphasia, a brain disorder that has been in the news lately after actor Bruce Willis was diagnosed with it and retired from Hollywood. When O’Neal was being treated in the hospital, it was the start of the pandemic and her family couldn’t visit her in person or had to stand behind glass.

PAPER MOON, Tatum O'Neal, 1973

Everett Collection

Kevin added that while his mother is getting better, “Emotionally the things that made my mom want to take drugs in the first place, those things are still very present.” She is currently attending twelve-step meetings and daily therapy sessions. O’Neal admitted that she has been trying to get sober most of her life. She was a child star who still holds the record for the youngest Oscar winner for her role in Paper Moon at age 10. She starred in the film with her famous father, Ryan O’Neal, who is now 82 years old.

From there, her career took off but she had a tumultuous marriage with McEnroe. While she wanted to get sober for her kids, her son admitted that she never really had the fire to get sober for herself. Now, perhaps she has the tools and the drive to get finally get there and we wish her all the best.

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Where Are They Now - The Seventies

June 2022

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