Josh Peck opens up about food, alcohol and drug addiction as a teen

The actor burst onto the scene in Nickelodeon’s ‘Drake & Josh’ in the early 2000s, but he struggled with addiction from an early age.

Pretty much every 90’s kid will remember ‘Drake & Josh’ and the madness that ensued in each episode of the teenage sitcom (often down to younger sister Megan, played by Miranda Cosgrove, meddling in her elder siblings’ lives). But behind the comedy series there was an internal struggle going on with main star Josh Peck and his addiction.

Opening up with People Magazine about his late teens and early 20’s, the 35-year-old admitted that being an “overweight” kid led to him leaning into comedy. He said: “I was always looking for something outside to fix my insides.

“I spent most of my life dying to be typical but I grew up with a single mom, I was overweight and I was a musical theater kid who really had no social status. Comedy was my natural defense mechanism…”

At the age of 15, which was around the time he began on ‘Drake & Josh’, Peck weighed nearly 300 pounds (136 kg). He knew it was time to make a drastic life change, recalling that he regularly ate large pizzas on his own.

After 18 months of diet and exercise, he dropped over 100 pounds (45 kg), and felt fitter than ever. However, this dramatic change in his body lead to him discovering a new addiction. He continued: “It became clear that once I lost the weight that I was the same head in a new body. What is really clear is that I overdo things.

“And then I discovered drugs and alcohol. And that became my next chapter. I used food and drugs to numb my feelings.”

Peck admitted that taking drugs and alcohol made him feel “more confident and attractive”, but it didn’t last very long. Due to his substance abuse, Josh Peck and his addiction resulted in him beginning to get a reputation in Hollywood for being “unstable and erratic,” he recalls. “I had worked so hard for this thing and I was getting very close to losing it.”

Now sober since the age of 22 in 2008, the actor is enjoying a major revival in his career. Just last year he starred in Disney+’s sequel series ‘Turner & Hooch’, and this year he’s been added to the cast of ‘How I Met Your Father’ as well as the ‘iCarly’ revival. His next big movie role will come in the form of Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’, which is due for release in 2023.

Parting with a final takeaway from his earlier life, Peck said of his struggles: “It took me a really long time to love the 15-year-old version of me. But now I understand how strong he was. And I feel like everything in my life set me up to find this chapter of health, peace and contentment.”

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