Pretty Little Liars star Lucy Hale discusses sobriety for the first time
US actress Lucy Hale said she stopped drinking a year ago because she “deserved more out of this life” after battling years of alcohol addiction.
The tearful 33-year-old described herself as a “textbook binge drinker” from her first experience of alcohol at 14 until last year.
On Valentines Day last week, the Pretty Little Liars star revealed on Instagram she had celebrated a year of sobriety, which had been a “mostly private” journey.
She told Steven Bartlett on The Diary Of A CEO podcast: “I have never talked publicly about being sober – I have a little over a year sobriety. I have been working on getting sober since I was 20; I’m 33. It took time. It took patience with myself.”Hale said she had felt her “truest self” when drinking and described it as as a “self-destructive” coping mechanism.
She told the podcast: “I just held on to that belief that real Lucy came out when she was drinking. It also quieted my mind… my mind just doesn’t shut off and it’s exhausting. I was (a) textbook binge drinker, blackout, wouldn’t remember what I did or what I said, which is scary.
“From my very first experience drinking age 14 up until a year ago, I’ve had a problem. I’ve never had a period of my life where I was a normal moderate drinker. It was always, ‘lets go’.
“I was willing to go to this crazy dark place every time. Of course I tried to be a moderate drinker, just having two. I have an allergy to alcohol. I cannot drink. I view it as an allergy; my brain doesn’t work the same way as someone who can just have a glass of wine. It always wants more. It’s craving that feeling.”
The actress said she had “so many things happen when you would’ve thought I would have changed” but for a while alcohol was her “solution”.
“One of my best friends died of alcoholism and that still didn’t make me want to get sober. Alcohol isn’t the problem – the problem is this feeling inside of me.
“I tried to change for boyfriends, I tried to change for my mum, I tried to change for my career, I tried to change for vain reasons – ‘I’ll look younger and look skinner… I’ll stop drinking for that’. None of that shit works.
“I had to and wanted to get sober, January 2 2022, because I said ‘I deserve more. I deserve more out of this life. I have to try it a different way and I have to be willing to commit to it’.”
Hale told Bartlett the last year has been a “really powerful and painful, insightful, joyous, horrible journey”.
Earlier in the podcast, Hale discussed her experience of living with an eating disorder from the age of 13, which saw her “step on a scale 30 times a day”.
She said: “I was eating so little that it was shocking. It all rooted back too ‘I don’t feel enough’. It slowly grew and grew until I could not enjoy life, I could not have a conversation, I could not focus on anything. It’s a miracle that I even started working… because it was a constant loop.
“But I love myself enough now to nourish my body and it’s so sad to think that I hated myself so much that I couldn’t even give it basic needs like food. That is so tragic.
“Now I can look back and see photos and think, ‘Oh, my God, I wasn’t seeing reality’. You just create this narrative in your head which is scary and dark and it ultimately wasn’t about the way I looked, it was about so much more, which is I had no self-worth – incredibly low self-worth.
“I always knew it wasn’t normal behaviour, I knew my hair shouldn’t be falling out and I knew I shouldn’t be able to see every bone in my body but you get addicted to this feeling of controlling your own body.”
Hale credited a former Italian boyfriend who “loved and appreciated” food, which helped her to learn to enjoy it, but revealed her disorder “flared up” again after starring in Pretty Little Liars.
She said: “I book a show called Pretty Little Liars and so I’m like, ‘We’ve got to be pretty and we’ve got to be little’.
“I thought I had overcome it but then it became a thing of control and then ultimately it wasn’t about wanting to be pretty or little, it was about, ‘This is scary. My life has completely shifted overnight. Millions of people are seeing my face. Instagram has just started. My first post was me in season one of Pretty Little Liars.
“It was like my life was under a magnifying glass. I felt out of control. ‘Uh oh, I guess I’ve got to control the way I look again and then I’ll be enough and then people will like me’. I didn’t feel worthy of the things I had in my life. I did not feel worthy of the success, career or the people in my life.”
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