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Michael J Fox Reveals He Struggled With Alcoholism Following Parkinson’s Diagnosis

by Samantha Whidden
Michael J Fox
(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Back to the Future star, Michael J Fox, revealed in a new documentary that Parkinson’s Disease played a major role in his alcohol struggles.

In the new documentary, Still: A Michael J Movie, Fox shared that after he was diagnosed with the incurable disease, he “drank to dissociate” as well as took dopamine pills in order to calm the symptoms. “I was definitely an alcoholic,” he admitted. “But I’ve got 30 years without having a drink.”

Fox then said that he discovered he had the disease after waking up from a night of drinking to find his pinky was twitching and a sore shoulder. This happened in 1990. However, He then started to display more early-onset symptoms of the disease while shooting the film Doc Hollywood.  After noticing the twitching wasn’t stopping, the actor spoke to a neurologist. He was diagnosed with the disease in 1991. 

However, Michael J Fox did not publicly disclose that he had Parkinson’s for seven years. He continued to work while carrying props in his left hand. “A festival of self-abuse,” Fox said about the documentary. “You get Parkinson’s, you trip over stuff.” 

Michale J Fox further spoke about his career before the disease. He was dubbed the Prince of Hollywood. The actor then recalled his reaction to the news from the doctor about his condition. “[I told him], ‘You know who you’re talking to, right? I’m not supposed to get this. You think [life’s] Mae of brick and rock. But it’s not. It’s made out of paper and feathers. It’s an illusion.” 

According to its IMDb, Still: A Michael J Fox Movie follows the life of actor and advocate Fox. The film explores his personal and professional triumphs and travails. Viewers also get an inside look at what happens when an incurable optimist confronts an incurable disease.

Despite His Fight With Parkinson’s, Michael J Fox Says He Loves His Life

During a Q&A session at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, Michael J Fox stated that while he continues to fight against Parkinson’s Disease, he still loves his life.

“I love my family, I love what I do, I love that people react to what I do,” Fox explained. He also said he knows that he can be an example to others and help them deal with their diagnosis without asking him to. 

Michael J Fox then said that he has an amazing life and he’s still enjoying it. He officially retired from acting in 2020 and has been writing books about his experience. “People express to me that I make them feel better and do things that they normally wouldn’t do. That’s a big responsibility.” 

In an effort to help those like him, Fox started his own foundation to help with advanced research to cure Parkinson’s disease. Since 2010, the foundation has raised over $100 million.