20 Oct Melissa Gilbert Shares Her Story to Help Other Addicts
Melissa Gilbert, long known for her innocent portrayal of pioneer life on television’s “Little House on the Prairie,” recently released a new story – the memoir of her battle with alcohol and its effects on parenting. Called “Prairie Tale,” the book comes at the same time the celebrity accepted the role as spokesperson for the national organization The Partnership at Drugfree.org.
Gilbert said in an interview that she revealed her story of overcoming alcohol addiction in hopes of helping other addicts believe that they could recover, too. When asked to compare her life with her Little House character, Gilbert said she was determined like television’s “Laura,” but her family life was very different. The child of divorced parents, her father passed away when she was young.
Gilbert’s story seems to parallel other recent television reports on mothers who become alcoholics, often keeping it secret from friends and family members for long periods. Gilbert says her alcohol habit escalated the most when she was a married mother, spurred in part by feelings that resurfaced about her grandfather and her father’s deaths.
The former television star reports using alcohol like many alcoholics do – for an escape from negative feelings and to achieve a kind of calm at the end of the day. Citing long lists of daily tasks surrounding work and career, Gilbert explains she began with a nightly single glass of wine. Soon the number grew to three to four glasses in the evening, until it reached a consumption level of three bottles almost every night.
She credits her son Michael for blatantly calling the problem to her attention, though she hid the full force of the alcohol from her family by waiting to drink until the children were asleep. Gilbert even recalls alcohol-induced blackouts while caring for her children at home.
A global force in helping alcoholics recover, Gilbert joined an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) chapter. The meetings were home-based, and Gilbert says they helped because the other attendees were also women struggling to balance work and home lives. The idea that addiction can happen to people from all walks of life is part of her platform now as the voice for The Partnership at Drugfree.org.
Gilbert says her life even in recovery isn’t always easy, but remaining both present – and sober – has allowed her to find success one piece at a time.
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