Here is the full transcript of actress Claudia Christian’s TEDx Talk: How I Overcame Alcoholism at TEDxLondonBusinessSchool conference. This event took place on April 29, 2016 at London.
Listen to the MP3 Audio: How I overcame alcoholism by Claudia Christian at TEDxLondonBusinessSchool
I’ve been in the entertainment industry for over 30 years. I was a very light drinker in my 20s.
In my 30s, I was a social drinker, and somewhere in my early 40s, I developed alcohol use disorder, which is abbreviated AUD. We don’t really use the term alcoholism that much anymore, because it’s too narrow of a term. AUD covers everything from the occasional binge drinker to the chronic daily drinker.
I started to realize that something was very wrong with me when I was always the last person standing at the bar or at dinner parties when everybody else had switched to coffee, I was still quaffing wine. Yeah.
I realized then that I definitely had a problem, so I decided that I would just go cold turkey, sober, and I did. But what I didn’t realize is that could cause what’s called the alcohol deprivation effect, where once the honeymoon period of sobriety wears off, you’re left with constant physical cravings for alcohol.
So think about it. You drive by a liquor store, and you’re triggered, you want a drink. You walk by a pub, and you get angry because you can’t go in there and have just one drink. You start isolating from your friends and families because they drink.
Developing AUD was an incredibly confusing thing for somebody who, admittedly, likes to be in control. I was definitely not in control of this at all. In fact, I was swept up in a nearly decade long battle with something I refer to as “the monster”.
Addiction is a monster, and it affects every ethnicity, social class, race, sex, age; it doesn’t matter. You can be the most disciplined person in the world. When it gets you, it has you. “It” is in control.
When I finally realized that I was not in the driver’s seat, that the monster was, I sought out every single treatment I could possibly find or afford. I went to rehab for $30,000 to basically drink wheat grass and do tai chi. I went to talk therapy for over two-and-a-half years for 200 bucks a session.
I actually sought out a hypnotherapist who claimed that he had cured a member of the Grateful Dead — that was 400 bucks an hour. I went to 12 different meetings of AA in two different countries. I went macrobiotic. I got my chakras realigned. I tried veganism. You name it, I tried it, and I prayed. OK, I prayed until my knees were black and blue, and I still kept relapsing, time and time again.
I mean, I think that in the years that I was suffering from AUD and really battling it, I probably relapsed close to 20 times. And each relapse became more difficult to recover from, and they got worse and worse and worse.
And here’s the thing: I wasn’t drinking because I had a crummy childhood, or because I was suffering from any personal trauma. I mean, if you look at it from the outside, I had a great life! I was in my chosen career. I had a beautiful home. I had friends and family who loved me and supported me.