Tatum O'Neal: I Can't Really Read, Write Due to 2020 OD

Actress was in a coma for 6 weeks
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 5, 2023 1:13 PM CDT

"It was the phone call we'd always been waiting for," Tatum O'Neal's son says of the May 2020 call bearing the news that his mother had overdosed and suffered a severe stroke. "She also had a cardiac arrest and a number of seizures," says Kevin McEnroe. "There were times we didn't think she was going to survive," he says of his mother, who reveals to People that she spent six weeks in a coma. The magazine points out the 59-year-old has had drug addiction issues for decades, and she and her children say the onset of the COVID pandemic worsened things. "She had become very isolated," says Kevin.

At the time, O'Neal had been prescribed drugs for back and neck pain and rheumatoid arthritis. "With the addition of morphine and heavier pharmaceuticals, it was getting scary. COVID, chronic pain, all these things led to a place of isolation," says Kevin. "In that place, I don't think, for her, there was much hope." She ultimately overdosed on pain medication, opiates, and morphine in her apartment. A friend found her, and doctors determined she had suffered damage to her right frontal cortex. There were fears that if she survived, she could be blind, deaf, or unable to speak.

"I woke up ... without any words ... I had no, no, no words at all, nothing," O'Neal says in a video interview with People. "And nobody could figure out what was going to go on, if I was going to die or if I was going to live. And I lived. It is a miracle," though "I still can't really read and write yet." She says she doesn't want to drink or use drugs anymore, and "I've been to so many [12-step] meetings, I'm impressed with myself about the meetings ... every day, sometimes three or four times a day on Zoom, and that helps me so much." People calls her recovery "remarkable." Adds O'Neal, "I've been through a lot." (More Tatum O'Neal stories.)

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