Earlier this week, Ben Affleck shared on Facebook that he’s completed treatment for alcohol addiction. Within seconds of his announcement, thousands of people in recovery flooded social media with positive, supportive messages for the actor. Recovery advocate Ryan Hampton called Affleck a hero, saying, “I was overjoyed. By showing his true self and being candid about his recovery, Batman sent a signal to the world. He wasn’t going to apologize for who he was.” Affleck brought the issue of addiction into the limelight at a time that is critical for the recovery community.
A Trip In A Time Machine
In his Facebook post, Affleck said that he was opening up in order to help other people. “I want to live life to the fullest and be the best father I can be. I want my kids to know there is no shame in getting help when you need it, and to be a source of strength for anyone out there who needs help but is afraid to take the first step.”
That’s a far cry from the Ben Affleck who entered treatment in 2001—before marriage, before kids, and before his directorial debut. At the time, he’d recently ended a relationship with Gwyneth Paltrow and his most recent film Pearl Harbor was a box office hit. According to People Magazine, Charlie Sheen, who’d been sober for three years at the time, picked Affleck up and took him to Promises, a well known rehab center in Malibu, California. 30 days later, Affleck left Promises with a shrug. He chalked his alcohol abuse up to “being 29.”
A lot has changed since 2001, and Affleck’s attitude is just one of them. Now 44, the actor is taking a second look at his problem with alcohol. His three children, who he’s raising with co-parent Jennifer Garner, are more important than ever. And, according to his Facebook post, so is helping other people. By choosing to go public with his statement, Affleck is joining the ranks of 23 million-person recovery community that is fighting the stigma attached to addiction. His honesty and courage are inspiring to many.
Substance Addiction is A Family Disease
Ben isn’t the only Affleck who’s gone a few rounds with active addiction. His father, Tim Affleck, has been sober for over ten years and works as a rehab counselor in Palm Springs, California. More in the public eye is Ben’s younger brother, Casey Affleck. Recently awarded the Best Actor award for his role in Manchester By The Sea, Casey’s success has been darkened by reports from many women in Hollywood of his behavior when drunk. He allegedly referred to women as “cows,” climbed into a bed with a female coworker on location, and made sexual advances to female members of the crew. Two women, who worked with Casey on the film I’m Still Here sued Affleck for sexual harassment. The court transcript describes Casey as frequently intoxicated. In the lawsuit, one witness said she was “exposed to so much degradation and exhaustion that she vomited.”
Perhaps Ben Affleck’s decision to get sober will inspire his younger brother to follow suit. Addiction experts agree that although there is no way to identify the exact cause of addiction, the mental illness can run in families. Certainly, growing up in an alcoholic home or being raised by alcoholic parents may influence someone’s later decisions to drink or to abstain from substance use altogether. Ben cited his children and family as his primary reason for wanting to stay sober. Casey, who is father to two children, may find inspiration in his brother’s words as well.
Show Up Til You Grow Up
Ben Affleck’s inspiring message spoke to hundreds of thousands of people. Without making excuses for his behavior, blaming others, or playing the victim, he plainly stated that he’d completed treatment for alcohol addiction and was ready to get back to living a better life. Although he did not specify which treatment center he’d attended, or for how long, Affleck appears to be taking this shot at recovery seriously. At his last public appearance—the 2017 Oscars ceremony—he brought a “sober coach” with him to make sure that he didn’t drink. His willingness to go to any lengths to avoid alcohol shows that this time, Affleck is playing for keeps.
Although it’s unclear whether Affleck will continue to speak about recovery, or share more information about his substance addiction, his Facebook message was inspiring to many people in our community. It points to a future where everyone in recovery is accepted and supported, and can share openly about their sobriety without fear of stigma or shame.
Thank you, Ben Affleck, and may you enjoy many sober days with the people you love.