Sweetin attracts a full house


It was a full house Tuesday night in the assembly room of the William Pitt Union as students… It was a full house Tuesday night in the assembly room of the William Pitt Union as students gathered to remember their T. G. I. Fridays and got to see guest lecturer and former child star Jodie Sweetin.

The 25-year-old Sweetin, who played Stephanie Tanner on the hit 1990s sitcom “Full House,” stopped at Pitt on her nationwide college lecture tour to discuss her life after the show and her struggles with drug addiction.

Beginning at age five, Sweetin attended school in the mornings and worked as the Tanner family’s middle child in the afternoons. With life teetering between normalcy and celebrity, she constantly struggled with feelings of isolation.

Although on-screen, Stephanie stood up to the bad influence of the character Gia, Sweetin used partying to feel like she fit in and to help her escape her virtuous television image.

“[Speed] was the one drug I tried, and it took me down,” she said, recounting her decade-long battles with methamphetamine, alcohol and other hard drugs. “I wasn’t doing it for fun, I was doing it to stay in this place of numbness.”

Sweetin attributes her downward spiral into addiction to have started when she was 13 years old, following the end of “Full House’s” eight-year run on the ABC network.

Her lying, drinking and partying in her teenage years damaged family relationships even worse than when Stephanie drove the family car into the kitchen in season three. Sweetin hated being at home, and when she entered nearby Chapman University at 17, managed to scrape by with only a 0.9 GPA.

Not until she reached her second semester of college did Sweetin give up her destructive lifestyle. But after two and a half years of sober living, in which she got married, bought a house and went back to school, she relapsed into daily drug use.

On March 19, 2005, after two years of hiding her dependency on crystal meth from her husband, family and friends, Sweetin was rushed to the emergency room with acute alcohol poisoning, heart arrhythmia and hypothermia.

It was then that she made the decision to enter a rehabilitation program in Malibu, Calif., and sought marriage counseling with her now ex-husband.

“Danny did not sit me down, Comet was not there,” she said, debunking tabloid rumors that the cast of Full House staged an intervention to help Sweetin decide to enter rehab.

“I thought, ‘I cannot do this anymore, or I literally will be dead,'” she said of the decision to turn her life around for the better. “I feel incredible to be alive. Once you start, you never know how deep you can get.”

Sweetin has spread her story to 11 colleges on her tour this year and plans to visit five more.

“You can always make a different choice,” she said. “I always think, ‘Maybe there might be one person in the crowd that heard something I said.'”

Tuesday night’s event, sponsored by the Pitt Program Council, drew about 400 students despite being rescheduled after Sweetin cancelled her Feb. 21 appearance. Sweetin, who still had remnants of a hoarse voice as she addressed the audience of students, cancelled the initial date because of a cold and the flu, according to Ramma Barakat, lecturer director at PPC.

In addition to “Full House,” Sweetin first appeared on television in 1987 on the show “The Hogan Family” and recently hosted reality show “Pants-Off Dance-Off” on FuseTV. “Full House” now runs in syndication, and Sweetin hopes to return to acting in the future.