Michael J. Fox abused alcohol to cope with Parkinson’s diagnosis

The actor speaks about his condition in a new documentary

Michael J. Fox has revealed that he used alcohol to initially cope with his Parkinson’s diagnosis.

The Back To The Future star was initially diagnosed with the degenerative disorder in the early 1990s, though didn’t reveal it publicly until 1998.

The star’s life is the subject of new documentary, Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie, which has just premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and shows him speaking about his diagnosis.


In the film, he recalled that he took dopamine pills “like Halloween Smarties (candy)” to stave off early symptoms of the condition, and would always hold props on set to hide his tremors.

Michael J. Fox
Michael J. Fox CREDIT: Mike Coppola/Getty Images

“Therapeutic value, comfort – none of these were the reason I took these pills,” he says (via USA Today). “There was only one reason: to hide. I became a virtuoso of manipulating drug intake so that I’d peak at exactly the right time and place.”

Recalling the dread over his prognosis, Fox reveals that he turned to drink, explaining: “I didn’t know what was happening. I didn’t know what was coming. So what if I could just have four glasses of wine and maybe a shot?

“I was definitely an alcoholic,” he adds, though reveals he has now “gone 30 years without having a drink”.

Fox admits his wife and kids helped him to get sober, saying: “As low as alcohol had brought me, abstinence would bring me lower. I could no longer escape myself.


Michael J. Fox
Michael J. Fox CREDIT: Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival

“You can’t pretend at home that you don’t have Parkinson’s because you’re just there with it. If I’m out in the world, I’m dealing with other people and they don’t know I have it.”

“To me, the worst thing is restraint. The worst thing is to be confined and to not be able to have a way out,” he adds, admitting in the early days “there are times when I went, ‘There’s no way out of this’.”

Last year, Fox opened up about enduring a number of injuries in 2022, revealing in October that he was recovering from a number of broken bones.

“It’s been a struggle, but I’m happy. I say that because I hope on some level people can find happiness in spite of what they’re going through,” he told People.

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