Ben Affleck & The Struggles Of Addiction

Ben Affleck & The Struggles Of Addiction

Ben Affleck has been in the news lately, and not just because of his latest film, The Way Back; he’s speaking publicly about his alcoholism and his family’s history with addiction. He sat down with Diane Sawyer, who’d interviewed him and Matt Damon on the release of Good Will Hunting nearly 22 years prior, to speak frankly about his addiction, his regrets, and what he’s doing to lead a healthier life. 

He speaks frankly about his addiction, saying that he’d been to rehab nearly 20 years ago and, after two years sober, felt he was ready to reintroduce alcohol into his daily life. And for a long time, he did manage that without incident, having the occasional glass of wine with dinner, or a drink out at a bar with friends. But after eight years, he started to lose control, drinking progressively more and more, incapable of admitting that he had slipped back into his addictive habits. 

He also spoke of his family’s history with addiction; his grandmother who committed suicide by way of alcohol and barbiturates, and both his aunt and father who were addicts. “I wish he’d been sober during those formative years,” he said of his father, “but what he’s taught me is how important it is for me to be sober now during these formative years for my kids.”   

The alcoholism led to difficulty being honest about certain truths, like getting divorced, a fact that still causes him great pain because it symbolized that he was no longer the person he thought he was. “I really don’t want my children to pay for my sins,” he said, “or to be afraid for me.” The impact of addiction and alcoholism on a family truly cannot be understated. Often, that fact is difficult to admit. But now, Affleck is facing the consequences of his actions under the influence and is working on true recovery. 

In an interview with the New York Times, Affleck knowingly said, “It’s not particularly healthy for me to obsess over the failures — the relapses — and beat myself up. I have certainly made mistakes. I have certainly done things that I regret. But you’ve got to pick yourself up, learn from it, learn some more, try to move forward.” 

It’s notes like this that illustrate the significance of transparency from public figures when it comes to addiction and illness. Particularly with alcoholism, addictions are often vilified, incorrectly attributed to little more than a lack of self-control. But the reality is much more complex, and behind that illness lies a person who is struggling. This level of transparency on the matter helps show the world that, no matter the glitz or glamour, no matter how privileged the life, we all feel pain, and often struggle with how to healthily cope with it. 

Back in the interview with Sawyer, her voice calls Affleck’s struggle “a relapse broadcast around the world”, describing the very deep pain of publicly coping with addiction in an unforgiving world. But being public about these things can also help establish a level of accountability that can fuel one’s motivation. Being open about his addiction can help fuel his recovery if handled properly, and can help others struggling to seek help find the courage they need to ask.

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