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Former Nickelodeon Star Used Drugs to “Numb Feelings”

Actor Josh Peck has had a long and successful career, and is currently starring in Hulu’s How I Met Your Father. He first came into prominence at age 13, with his time as a supporting cast member on the Nickelodeon sketch comedy series, The Amanda Show. After the show ended, Peck landed his most famous role as Josh Nichols in the Nickelodeon comedy series, Drake and Josh. He would reunite with former Amanda Show cast member, Drake Bell, in the series, which lasted four seasons from 2004 to 2007. However, during that time period, Peck was dealing with a lot of inner demons.

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 11: Josh Peck attends the Brooks Brothers Hosts Special Holiday Celebration To Benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital at The Maybourne Beverly Hills on December 11, 2021 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images)

Peck opened up about his past in an interview with People, specifically his struggles with addiction. “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,” says Peck. “Comedy was my natural defense mechanism.”

Growing up, Peck was subjected to a lot of bullying from his peers, specifically about his weight. He says that he first turned to food for comfort, and recalls eating large pizzas on his own, and being nearly 300 pounds as a teenager. Peck then decided to adopt a healthier lifestyle, and after 18 months, he lost the weight. But then….

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 25: Josh Peck attends Bob Saget’s Cool Comedy Hot Cuisine presented by the Scleroderma Research Foundation at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on April 25, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Michael Tullberg/Getty Images)

Despite this change, Peck was still unhappy, and began turning to other substances for comfort. “It became clear that once I lost the weight that I was the same head in a new body,” Peck explained to People. “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.”

attends the Los Angeles World Premiere of Marvel Studios’ “Avengers: Endgame” at the Los Angeles Convention Center on April 23, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.

Peck says that he continued experimenting with drugs into his early 20’s. “It was like a buffet. I had this illusion of becoming more confident and attractive when I was partaking. I was trying to quiet that voice that woke me up every morning and told me I wasn’t enough,” he told People.

attends Nickelodeon’s 2019 Kids’ Choice Awards at Galen Center on March 23, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.

This lifestyle would later affect Peck’s career, as he struggled to book jobs. Peck recalls being seen by people as “unstable and erratic.” This realization is what pushed him to get help. “I had worked so hard for this thing and I was getting very close to losing it,” he told People.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JULY 15: (L-R) Josh Peck and John Stamos attend the Disney+ “Turner & Hooch” Premiere at Westfield Century City Mall on July 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)

Peck then began to get treatment, which would lead to him getting sober in 2008. After that, his career began to take off again, which included film and sitcom roles, notably the 2015 FOX series, Grandfathered, with legendary actor, John Stamos. He also built a steady social media presence on Twitter, Vine, and YouTube. Peck credits his decision to get help with the reinvigoration of his career. “By walking through discomfort and by doing my best to break down the false identity I had for myself, I was able to get to the place that I was always seeking,” he told People. 

“If your drug use is out of control or causing problems, get help. The sooner you seek help, the greater your chances for a long-term recovery. Talk with your primary doctor or see a mental health professional, such as a doctor who specializes in addiction medicine or addiction psychiatry, or a licensed alcohol and drug counselor,” says the Mayo Clinic.

Anna Bechtel

Anna Bechtel is a freelance writer currently based in Hamden, CT. Read more