Johnny Knoxville Opens Up About Past Substance Abuse: 'I Did Overindulge' but 'I Could Always Pull Out of It' (Exclusive)

In his new film 'Sweet Dreams', the 'Jackass' star plays a man who gets out of rehab, then coaches a softball team of recovering addicts

<p>Michael Kovac/Getty</p> Johnny Knoxville in January 2023

Michael Kovac/Getty

Johnny Knoxville in January 2023

Johnny Knoxville was exposed to drug and alcohol abuse throughout his life — now he is drawing on those experiences in a new project.

The 'Jackass' alum stars in the film Sweet Dreams as Morris, a man forced into rehab who then coaches a softball team of recovering addicts. His says his past experiences with drugs and alcohol put him "right next door" to the addiction struggles faced by his family and friends.

The actor tells PEOPLE that he "did overindulge in periods of my life," but considers himself lucky that he could "always pull out of it."

"Some people can’t," Knoxville says. "I understand the fears that come along with, like, ‘What am I going to do if I have to give up this one thing that I'm protecting more than anything, the one thing that's ruling my life?’ Because it's your whole identity at that point."

Related: Johnny Knoxville Proudly Poses After Letting His Daughter Do His Makeup: 'I Do Look Pretty Hot'

Knoxville explains his early exposure to addiction. "My father was an alcoholic,' he says. "A lot of my friends are in recovery."

One of those friends is Jackass star Steve-O, who credits Knoxville with helping him to get sober in 2008.

"It's very nice of Steve-O, to credit me with [his sobriety]," Knoxville says. "But I will say all credit goes to Steve-O, you know. Maybe me and a couple of other fellas were the catalyst for him taking that step, the first step, but he's the one who eventually wanted it and made it happen. And that's true bravery."

<p>J. Shearer/WireImage</p> Johnny Knoxville in 2003

J. Shearer/WireImage

Johnny Knoxville in 2003

During a Dec. 7, 2023, episode appearance on Steve-O's podcast, Steve-O's Wild Ride!, the two briefly recalled disturbing moments of their past substance use. Knoxville said that they used to inhale "video head tape cleaner" together, and that they got matching tattoos of the specific brand they used during that period.

Steve-O also recalled other addictive behaviors such as when Knoxville sent Jackass crew members to track down "airplane model glue" because he wanted to use it as an inhalant.

But those days are far behind Steve-O and Knoxville, who supports his friend's recovery journey.

"People think, ‘Oh, life's not gonna be fun anymore,’ " Knoxville says of the misconception around sobriety. "But your life starts then, after you get sober, and I think it's more fun. From what I've seen with people, they're having the time of their life."

He adds, "It's still a very hard thing to do. But it’s possible."

Related: Johnny Knoxville Coaches a Softball Team of Recovering Addicts in Sweet Dreams Trailer (Exclusive)

The star's beliefs around addiction recovery and second chances are directly related to Sweet Dreams. The focus on getting sober appealed to Knoxville, who says, "Morris trying to get his life back and his daughter back, you know — I connected with a lot of those things." (Knoxville has three children.)

Overall, the star hopes the film shines a positive light on the other side of an individual's recovery journey. He acknowledges that many shows and movies "just kind of stick in the addiction side and the hopelessness.

"But it doesn't have to be hopeless. You can make your own luck — you can get your life back."

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Read the original article on People.