Ben Affleck Talks 'Painful' Road to Sobriety, Plus: His Thank You Note to Jennifer Garner
Actor Ben Affleck is opening up like never before about his struggle with alcoholism.
In an interview with ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer, Affleck explained how he lost his sobriety before losing his marriage to his ex, Jennifer Garner.
He shared, "I started to drink more and more and more. And it was really hard for me to accept that that meant that I was an alcoholic. I was like, 'I could just go back. I was fine before. You know, I just need to take a break. I just need to slow down.'"
Affleck's drinking eventually got worse. He revealed, "I started to drink every day. I mean, I'd come home from work and I'd start to drink. And then I'd just sit there and drink till I passed out on the couch."
The 47-year-old attempted to get sober nearly 20 years ago. He admitted, “I got sober — when I was younger, in 2001. Which I now look at as sort of a JV version of what really a problem is."
"I was sober for a couple of years. And then I thought, 'You know, I wanna just drink like a normal person. And I wanna have wine at dinner,'" Affleck went on. "I was able to for about eight years."
Along with struggling with depression, Affleck had a family history with alcoholism. His grandmother took her own life while abusing alcohol and barbiturates. His aunt was also an addict, and so was his father.
Affleck, commented, "[My dad] was drunk every day and that was just life. And that was what it was. And as that got worse, that was really, really painful. And I always said, 'That'll never be me. I am never gonna do that.' I wish he had been sober during those formative years. But what he's taught me is how important it is for me to be sober now during this formative years for my kids."
Affleck has gone to rehab twice in the last three years in hopes of getting better for his kids. He emphasized, "I really don't want my children to pay for my sins. Or to be afraid for me, which is one of the hard parts of being the child of an alcoholic. You think, 'What if my dad gets drunk? What if he does something stupid? What if he ends up on TMZ and is on my newsfeed and other kids see it?'"
Affleck noted that he saw parts of the TMZ video that showed him intoxicated after a Halloween party in October.
The public relapse was a wake-up call for Affleck, who decided to give up working to be present for his kids. He said, "I took the last half of the year off. And I just got to be Dad. Drive 'em to school, pick 'em up. Go to the swim meet. That's where the parenting happens — it's in the cracks. It's in the moments where — you're just takin' them back from soccer. And they see something profound. Or they talk about how they're really feeling about something. That's where you get to be the parent. And that's the joy of it. And that's what I don't wanna miss."
Ben also opened up about how his alcoholism cost him his marriage. He said, "I didn't want to get divorced, I didn't want to be a divorced person, I really didn't want to be a split family with my children. It upset me because it meant I wasn't who I thought I was and that was so painful and so disappointing. In myself."
When Sawyer noted that she could sense how his face changed when he talked about pain, Ben emphasized, "Divorce is very painful and alcoholism is very painful. They just are. If there's something that your child is suffering, that's a level of pain that is just not easily gotten past, not easily forgiven, not easily forgotten. It's hard. I'm doing my very, very best and I hope that that is — it has to be good enough. I have to, I don't really have a choice. I have to be the man I want to be at this point, I don't have any more room for failure of that kind."
Ben and Garner called it quits in 2015, but have remained close friends. Sawyer read a public note from Ben, who expressed his appreciation to Jennifer. He wrote, “What I want to say publicly and privately is, 'Thank you. Thank you for being thoughtful, considerate, responsible, and a great mom and person.'"
Affleck is promoting his new film "The Way Back," in which he plays a basketball coach who is struggling with addiction. The drama is in theaters March 6.