Patricia Heaton opens up about leaving alcohol behind.
Appearing on Elizabeth Vargas’ podcast about addiction, “Heart of the Matter”, the former “Everybody Loves Raymond” star opened up about her decision to go sober in 2018.
The 63-year-old explained that she experienced “a lifetime of alcohol,” dating back to her youth in Cleveland, where she said “heavy drinking is the norm. And I love alcohol. I love bourbon. I love vodka. I love Maker’s Mark. I mean, you can feel it. You have a drink, and you feel it from your head to your toes, just this thing that goes through your body. It’s fantastic. Until it’s not.”
She then described drinking frequently while starring in “Everybody Loves Raymond”, but not excessively. After the show was over, though, and her sons had grown up, things got worse.
“My kids were out of the house [and] I just noticed that if it was 5 p.m. and I don’t have anything to do the next day, I would start drinking automatically,” Heaton said. “Then I would be waiting for it to be 5. Then I would go to lunch with friends [and] have a drink at lunch, which I never, ever did before… I really started looking forward to drinking and thinking about it in a way that I hadn’t before… If we went out to dinner, I would have two cocktails before the meal and then at least two glasses of wine and then maybe an aperitif. If I was with really good friends that I knew well, I would have three cocktails before dinner.”
She remembered that at the time she thought to herself, “I’m not an alcoholic, but I could see it down the road. I could see it flipping over into that.”
Finally, the breaking point for Heaton came when she visited her son in Nashville, where she attended a dinner party and brought a few bottles of wine.
“We drank while we were making dinner,” she said. “We drank while we were eating dinner. We drank while we cleaned up. And then we were drinking while we were all playing this board game. There were like 10 of us there: three of my sons, and then their friends. And I was just filling my glass with red wine throughout the five or six hours that we were together. I don’t know how many glasses it was, and I felt completely sober and fine. I was making a joke to the table, and I started saying, ‘You know, in our family it’s a tradition…’ And I could not pronounce the word ‘tradition.’ I tried three times, and I couldn’t say the word.”
Heaton recalled, “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 that’s all it takes for me — for that kind of sense of their mom looking drunk in front of them.”
She continued, “I thought… ‘What is happening in my brain? What is the alcohol doing to my brain where the synapses are misfiring to the point where I can’t say this word?'” she said. “It’s almost like having a stroke or something. And it shook me up. I thought, ‘That’s it. That’s it’… It had every element that I needed. It had a logical element and had this ‘oh my gosh, my sons have seen me drink too much.'”
At breakfast the next day, Heaton told a friend, “Well, you’re the first person I’m telling this to, but this is my first day of never drinking again.”
She has not had another drink since that day three years ago.
“I feel now that I can do anything if I can get rid of alcohol,” Heaton said. “Alcohol’s the hardest thing in my life.”