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Women's Health

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Nurse Jackie's Edie Falco on Her New Roles

The Emmy-winning actress opens up about beating her alcohol addiction, her new play, and her favorite part of all: mother.

Falco's Struggles with Addiction continued...

Finding a fellowship of people who no longer drink can have a huge influence on staying sober, says Harry Haroutunian, MD, physician director of the Betty Ford Center's Residential Treatment Programs in Rancho Mirage, Calif. "Alcoholism is a disease that loves to hide in the dark and to stay cloaked in denial, but having a fellowship holds you accountable to a power outside of yourself," he says. "For some people, that fellowship might be a recovery group like Alcoholics Anonymous, and for others, like Edie, it could be a group of sober friends." 

Watching a loved one struggle with addiction can make many family members feel helpless -- something Falco understands. "When I was little, I used to break my parents' cigarettes all the time to get them to stop smoking. They would get furious with me, and then just go out and buy more cigarettes," says Falco. "It's hard to talk to an addict who doesn't want to hear anything. But there is a way out. You get to the point where you think there isn't, and I can say from the other side that there is always a way out if you ask for help."

Falco: "I Never Thought I Would Be a Mom"

After kicking the bottle, Falco cleaned up her diet and swapped her unhealthy addiction for a healthy one: running. "Back when I drank, I didn't exercise at all, and I decided to take better care of myself," says Falco, who discovered she loved logging miles outdoors for the mood-boosting benefits. Then, in September 2003, Falco received the life-changing diagnosis of stage 1 breast cancer. Suddenly, exercise became much more than a way to stay fit and firm -- it became a source of solace. Even on days when she was depressed over losing her hair to chemo, Falco's runs made her feel strong and calm.

Finally, in February 2004, the clouds lifted: Falco entered remission. But despite her soaring career and regained health, she realized something was missing: She wanted to be a mom.

"I had been pursuing this career for so long and living, literally, by the seat of my pants, that it never occurred to me that I would have children," says Falco who, after graduating from the prestigious Conservatory of Theatre Arts and Film, lived in Manhattan and worked odd jobs to support her acting career.

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