This morning on Good Morning America, Ben Affleck took part in an interview with Diane Sawyer on his experiences with addiction, relapse and recovery. Ben offered his story that mirrors so many of the stories for those that have struggled with addiction. He talks about how he first got sober in 2001, stayed sober for a couple of years, and eventually began to believe that he could drink again at dinner, with friends or at special events.
Guilt, Shame and Relapse
He quotes that “sooner or later your vulnerabilities can find you”, and he found himself drinking more, and telling himself that he could stop again, denying that he was an alcoholic. However, despite his previous experience in sobriety, he found himself nearing a divorce and experiencing the guilt and shame of letting his family down and potentially recreating his family cycle.
Ben describes his upbringing and alcoholic father, a grandmother that committed suicide amidst alcohol and barbiturate use, and an aunt that was also an addict. He also had a history of depression that he struggled with for years. He recalls having thoughts as a child that he didn’t want to end up like his father, that he “was never going to do that.” He now, in his recovery, uses that experience to learn from his father and decided that he wants to be present for his children during their formative years. Drawing from his own experiences, he doesn’t want to repeat the same patterns for his own children.
Finding Recovery Again
He went to rehab twice within the last 3 years, with the hope of not making his children pay for his mistakes, or to be afraid for him. Ben’s relapse was made public via social media and TMZ. He recalls this moment as a wake-up call for him, and became ready to make a change in his life.
In Ben’s new movie, The Way Back, he illustrates the pain and consequences of addiction through his character that plays a basketball coach struggling with addiction, who suffers consequences related to his addiction such as losing his job. The character finds his journey toward recovery, along with the underdog basketball team that he works with who end up finding their own successes as well.
Learning from an Underdog
Ben’s story doesn’t just signify the part of addiction that people like to laugh at or point at or make judgments towards on a public forum like social media, as seen by the responses to his relapse that was made public. Ben’s story paints the picture of any persons recovery story, inside or outside of the spotlight. Not every recovery story is free of speed bumps, relapses or mistakes. Rather, it’s an ongoing process that takes a lot of learning and growing and motivation to believe in yourself. Although relapse doesn’t have to be part of someone’s story, if it is, it still isn’t the end of the road. There is hope no matter how much harm has been caused, or time lost, or feelings of hopelessness or feeling defeated. Although we may not view Ben Affleck as someone that we would consider an underdog, his experience with addiction isn’t any more glamorous or less painful because of his celebrity status. Every underdog has a chance at recovery.