03/14/2014 AT 05:00 PM EDT
2013 wasn't exactly a banner year for Josh Brolin
It began with him being arrested on the streets of Santa Monica for public intoxication in the early hours of New Year's Day, and a month later was followed by the breakdown of his eight-year marriage
to Diane Lane
After several other public altercations in which he appeared to be intoxicated, the 46-year-old entered rehab
in November. The Oscar nominee admits in an interview with The Guardian
that it was a "turning point."
"It made me think of a lot of things. My mom dying when I was in my 20s. All the impact that had on me that I hadn't moved past; I was always such a momma's boy," he says. "But I realized that I was on a destructive path. I knew that I had to change and mature. It was like I stepped back and saw the hamster wheel."
Now divorced from
Lane, Brolin – who was spotted kissing
new lady Kathryn Boyd in Rome last month – reveals that his experiences with drug use began when he was a teen growing up in California in the 1980s.
As a member of the Cito Rats surf gang, the son of actor James Brolin
robbed cars to buy drugs.
"I tried heroin," he says. "That sounds so horrible when you put it like that. But, yeah, I tried heroin. I mean, I never got into it and I never died from it, which is a good thing. I've had 19 friends who died. Most of those guys I grew up with, they're all dead now."
Brolin, who'd gotten his start as a child star in films like The Goonies
ultimately decided that heroin wasn't for him.
"I used to think you should try to deconstruct everything. Experience everything. Just get yourself out there. But I don't believe that any more," he says. "Having adventures is all very well, but an imagination can make up for all that. That's the more intelligent way to be. And it keeps you out of harm's way."