Actress Mackenzie Phillips opened up about what it was like to play an addict on “Orange Is the New Black” as someone who has suffered from real-life substance abuse.
Phillips, 58, plays Barbara “Barb” Denning in the sixth season of the hit Netflix series. In the show, Barb and her sister Carol were behind bars for killing their younger sister. Barb develops a serious drug addiction while in prison but gets clean thanks to the help of another inmate who previously had a substance abuse problem.
Phillips told People what it was like playing a drug addict in the show.
“When I found out [the character] was someone who struggled with a serious using problem, I was even more excited about it because — spoiler alert — but Barb gets sober and Nikki [another inmate] helps Barb get sober,” Phillips said.
The “American Graffiti” star explained that inmates did not have access to the care she had when she suffered from a substance abuse problem but thought it was great to show what they did with other resources.
“That was just so cool to show. I’ve had access to the best behavioral care for my own addiction over the years but someone who is in prison and doesn’t have the resources,” Phillips said.
“So, real recovery comes through other channels rather than just stopping using so there’s a little more to it,” she concluded.
Phillips told Variety of one particular scene she found traumatic.
"There was a scene where I had to snort fake drugs. It was in a little baggie and they wanted me to pour it onto my hand,” Phillips recalled. “And I was like, 'No, no, no. Get me a straw and cut it at an angle.' I went back into my, 'This is how it’s done, so this is how we’re going to do it.' And the first time that I actually did snort — it was vitamin B or something horrible, God, it was disgusting — was while we were rolling.”
The actress said she was thankful she “didn’t live that way anymore.”
Phillips, who is an addiction specialist, spoke to Fox News in 2017, about her road to sobriety and the first step of getting help.
“Ask for help. It's the most valuable and it's the hardest because it means we have to give up our coping mechanism, which is drugs and alcohol. If we ask for help it means change and change is scary,” she said.