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Media Articles - 1990s

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Reaching out to stars in the grip of drugs

USA Today
June 28, 1994

Amanda Rice's 15 minutes of fame consist of being the woman who supposedly came between Julia Roberts and Kiefer Sutherland days before their fairy-tale wedding.

It was purely platonic, she swears, and she hasn't spoken to the actor recently. But she's in the news again, trying to get help for the masses of young actors and actresses with a drug habit.

Not long ago, Rice was a "speed freak," she says, injecting three to four grams of amphetamines a day. To take off the edge, she'd smoke heroin.

Now, two cardiac arrests and four detox programs later, Rice, 27, is finally sober. And as a residential counselor at Narconon, she is hoping to start an outreach program for Hollywood's high-profile users.

Narconon, a program started by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, saved her life, she says. "Where I'm at now, I want to help someone who's in the same shoes."

So she's making calls now, while the memory of her fast times on Sunset Boulevard with some famous Hollywood young guns is still clear.

She found drugs "in every club I went into. . . . Not everybody did (the drugs) I liked, but everybody had a vice of some sort."

An East Coast actress, Rice has been in L.A. for six years, but she "didn't start seeing so many drugs until I got involved in the entertainment industry."

Then, "probably two years after I got here," she tried speed. "I was in a club - a big club, a very popular club - and they were lying lines out on the table."

The glitterati can "buy it at any Sunset Strip bar in West Hollywood," she says. "They're doing it in VIP rooms openly, and they're doing it intravenously, not just snorting it." It's completely insane, she adds.

Rice says crack and heroin are the drugs of choice these days, and she knows (but won't name) many stars who are using drugs - "not just on them, but heavily addicted."

River Phoenix was a friend, she says. His drug-overdose death and the suicide of Kurt Cobain, she adds, haven't made young Hollywood more aware of the dangers. Rather, the deaths have glamorized drugs even more.

"Heroin is more posh now."

Sweat out the habit

Often confused with the 12-step Narcotics Anonymous program, Narconon is based on Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard's belief that drug residues lodge in the tissues.

"We don't believe that a lot of talking in the beginning will do a lot for somebody," says Rice. Addicts "need something to hold them up and hold them together long enough to get drugs out of the system."

The Narconon program believes in sweating it out. The detox program - there are inpatient and outpatient options - includes running and sauna-sitting five hours a day for two to three weeks, depending on the drug and level of addiction.

"We call it the box," says Rice, who spent 35 days in the sauna kicking her habit.