Patricia Heaton reveals the moment she decided to get sober: ‘I was so humiliated’
Patricia Heaton recalls a humiliating incident that caused her to stop drinking. (Danny Moloshok / Reuters)
Patricia Heaton says a drunk moment in front of her sons made her sober up.
The Everybody Loves Raymond alum opened up Elizabeth Vargas' addiction podcast, Heart of the Matter, about quitting alcohol for good in 2018 after the incident in which she was "humiliated."
The 63-year-old Emmy winner said she had "a life full of alcohol" growing up in Cleveland, where "heavy drinking is the norm. And i love alcohol. I love bourbon. I love vodka. I love Maker's Mark. That means you can feel it. You drink something and you feel it from head to toe, the very thing that goes through your body. It's awesome. Until it is no more. "
She said that while she starred in "Everybody Loves Raymond" she had four boys under the age of 5 so she could relax with a glass of wine at night. Working in front of the camera and everything that went with it - looking camera ready, knowing her lines, nailing her shots - kept overdrinking at bay during the week, however. After the band evenings on Thursday, she went out for a drink with the cast.
However, time passed, Raymond ended and her little boys grew up, leaving her and her actor husband David Hunt as empty nests.
"My kids were out of the house [and] I just noticed that if it was 5:00 pm and if I had nothing to do the next day, I would automatically start drinking," she said. “Then I waited for it to be five. Then I went to lunch with friends [and] had lunch I had never done before. ... I started really looking forward to drinking and thinking about it in ways that I didn't have before. ... If we went out to eat, I would have two cocktails before dinner and then at least two glasses of wine and then maybe an aperitif. If I was with really good friends, I knew well that I would have three cocktails before dinner. "
Heaton remembered thinking when this happened, "I'm not an alcoholic, but I could see it on the street. I could see it turn into this."
The turning point came when she and two other sons visited a son in Nashville. She thought of becoming a grandmother in 10 years' time and how she wanted to give up alcohol beforehand. However, she was concerned that she might not be able to do it - which she put it out loud while talking to God - because she had previously tried to stop drinking and could not.
The next day she went to a dinner party with her son. She brought a couple of bottles of wine and drank - a lot.
"We drank while we were preparing dinner," she recalls. “We drank while we were having dinner. We drank while we cleaned up. And then we drank while we all played that board game. We were there about 10: three of my sons and then their friends. And I just filled my glass with red wine for the five or six hours we were together. I don't know how many glasses there were and I felt completely sober and fine. I made a joke on the table and started, “You know, it's tradition in our family…” And I couldn't pronounce the word “tradition”. I tried three times and couldn't say the word. "
As this was happening, she said, "My son at the end of the table says, 'Oh, great, mom. You can't even talk.' And I was so humiliated in front of my sons and their friends. God knows that's all for me - for feeling their mother looking drunk in front of them. "
She also feared for her health.
"I thought ... 'What's going on in my brain? What is the alcohol doing to my brain where the synapses misfire so much that I can't say that word anymore?'" She said. "It's almost like a stroke or something. And it shook me up. I thought, 'That's it. That's it.' ... It had everything I needed, it had a logical element and it had this 'Oh my god, my sons saw me drink too much'. "
The next day she went to breakfast with a sober friend and said, "Well, you're the first person I tell this to, but this is my first day that I never drink again."
That was three years ago last July and she has not drunk anything since.
"I now feel like I can do anything if I can get rid of the alcohol," she said. "Alcohol is the hardest thing in my life."
In the interview, Heaton also recalled using cocaine in the 1980s but was able to stop when she realized it was causing depression. ("The depression I was feeling was so intense," she recalled. "I thought, 'I'll never do this again because I feel like I'm killing myself.' And I didn't.") Spoke also that she suddenly lost her mother to an aneurysm at the age of 12 and that she had an unresolved trauma as a result.
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