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Ben Affleck
Drinking Habits

Learning From Ben Affleck's Relapse Story

Published:
July 1, 2024
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16 min read
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Reframe Content Team
A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
July 1, 2024
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
July 1, 2024
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Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
July 1, 2024
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16 min read
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Reframe Content Team
July 1, 2024
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16 min read

Ben Affleck’s Story Gives Us a Realistic View of Recovery

  • Ben Affleck’s story documents his journey through alcohol addiction and multiple relapses — reminding us that the path to sobriety isn’t always smooth.
  • We can prevent and bounce back from a relapse by understanding the recovery process, recognizing our triggers, developing a support team, practicing self-care, and remembering our “why.” 
  • Reframe offers 24/7 encouragement, knowledge, and support for us to overcome challenges that may arise on our journey to sobriety!

Ben Affleck is an award-winning actor, writer, and filmmaker who has become a household name around the globe. As a Hollywood star, much of his private life has been lived in the spotlight, including, like so many other celebrities, his misuse of alcohol. His commitments to sobriety also have been made public, only to be followed by relapses which paint a more realistic picture of what recovery can look like.

While tabloid news is mostly gossip, there’s much to learn from Affleck’s story of addiction and recovery. Let’s pull back the curtain on Affleck’s story to see what lessons we can apply to our own journey.

Ben Affleck: Addiction, Recovery, and Relapse

Ben Affleck

In 1998, Ben Affleck shared the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for Good Will Hunting with his co-star and childhood pal, Matt Damon. Around that same time, Affleck announced in an interview that he had stopped drinking alcohol after reflecting on the negative behaviors he displayed when he was drunk. A few years later, in 2001, soon after parting ways with actress Gwyneth Paltrow, he recalled a stint of nonstop partying and gambling. Before long he was checking into a 30-day rehab program in Malibu, California. 

After the program, Affleck claims to have had a “normal” relationship with drinking. His acting career continued to flourish; he married actress Jennifer Garner; and they started a family. In 2015, Affleck and Garner separated. He eventually shared that his drinking had played a role in their separation and that he had worked with a sobriety coach in 2017 in hopes of being a better father to their children. In 2018, the same year the couple officially divorced, Garner was seen taking Affleck to a rehab treatment facility.

About a year later, in 2019, Affleck was spotted leaving a Halloween party intoxicated and publicly acknowledged his relapse. While Affleck admits that having his story shared in public has its pros and cons, he is now in a position where others often reach out to him for help. 

Is Ben Affleck Sober Today?

Affleck has acknowledged relapsing multiple times in recovery. His last reported relapse occurred in 2019.

In 2023, the media speculated that he had been drunk at the Grammy Awards — which he later denied. Affleck claims to remain sober to this day.

Ben Affleck’s Rehab Treatment

Affleck has checked into rehab multiple times over the years.

  • 2001. Affleck attended a 30-day rehab program at Promises in Malibu, dropped off by his friend and fellow actor Charlie Sheen. 
  • 2017. Affleck announced that he had completed treatment for alcohol addiction. He was spotted with a sobriety coach and private detox nurse.
  • 2018. His former wife, Jennifer Garner, took Affleck to The Canyon at Peace Park, a rehab facility in Malibu. A source later shared that it was a crisis situation. 

While relapse is a common experience in recovery, Affleck’s life in the limelight may have played a role. Let’s get a better picture of what may have led to the star’s multiple relapses.

Factors Contributing to Ben Affleck’s Relapse

Alcohol consumption is commonly influenced by two components — genetics and environmental factors. Genetic disposition can set the scene for alcohol misuse, and environmental factors can exacerbate drinking habits. Let’s take a look at factors that may have triggered Affleck’s relapses.

Genetic Factors

Affleck has a long history of substance use disorder in his family. In an interview with People magazine, Affleck shared that two of his grandparents along with other family members struggled with alcohol and other substance use disorders. 

Notably, Affleck’s father battled with alcohol use disorder (AUD) until he committed to sobriety when Aflleck was 19. Affleck later recounted that his father’s alcohol misuse throughout his childhood had a major effect on him.  

Research shows that those with a family history of alcohol use disorder are at a higher risk of developing AUD. Not only does family history affect the risk of AUD, but a study on AUD recurrence also found that family history of AUD can play a role in the risk of relapse. In interviews following his relapses, Affleck shared more of his family history, partially attributing his struggles and relapses to his experiences growing up. What else impacted Affleck’s drinking habits?

Environmental Factors

Living and working in an environment where drinking is highly normalized, coupled with the stress of public scrutiny, created the perfect storm for Affleck’s alcohol misuse. Early in his career, his personal and professional life revolved around environments where alcohol was prevalent, affecting his behavior and decision making. As he shared on The Hollywood Reporter’s “Awards Chatter” podcast, he’d worked with actors who showed up on the set drunk, which is the “most normal thing in Hollywood.” 

Much of Ben Affleck’s journey with sobriety and relapse became public gossip and, he noted, that added to the pressure. Celebrities, like Affleck, who have shared their stories have helped to normalize the nonlinear journey to sobriety. However, according to Affleck, “alcoholics” and relapses during recovery continue to be stigmatized. 

Understanding Relapse in Recovery

Stigma aside, relapsing during recovery is an extremely common experience. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the chance of relapse for those recovering from substance use disorder is around 40%-60%. 

Alcohol use disorder is categorized as a chronic brain disorder, meaning that recovery isn’t as simple as quitting drinking. It’s characterized by changes in our brain activity, meaning that it can take time and learning from our slipups for our brain to adjust to functioning without a substance it has come to depend on. Although Affleck received treatment for his alcohol misuse, he still relapsed several times — reminding us that relapses can be a part of the process of healing. What else can we learn from Affleck’s experiences? 

Learning From Ben Affleck: Sobriety and Relapse

We often hear of celebrities committing to sobriety, but it’s not often we hear about their struggles with relapses. Affleck’s journey documents the highs and the lows — painting a more realistic picture of what recovery can look like. His story sheds light on major aspects of alcohol misuse and recovery:

  • Risk factors. Affleck’ attribute his alcohol misuse to both genetic and environmental factors. Identifying our individual risk factors can help us take steps to combat them.
  • Commitment to sobriety. Personal responsibility plays a major factor in Affleck’s commitment to sobriety and treatment. For us to develop a better relationship with alcohol, we need to acknowledge the need for change.
  • Support system. Affleck attributes his progress on his journey to sobriety to the support he receives from family and friends. Treatment also plays a role. Research shows that those who try to quit alcohol without support or treatment have higher rates of relapse. Having a support system can help us navigate and overcome challenges during recovery to keep us on the right path.
  • Relapses. Affleck said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, “Yes, I had a relapse. Yes, I went into recovery again. And then I went and did that movie.” As a well-respected public figure, Affleck shows us that there’s no shame in asking for help and that relapses aren’t the end of the road. Recovery is possible, and by encouraging open dialogue about his struggles with AUD recovery, Affleck is helping to remove any stigma around it.

Although relapses are a common part of recovery, we can take steps to help prevent them. 

Lessons From Ben Affleck’s Journey to Sobriety

Strategies for Preventing Relapse

Although relapses are common in recovery, they can be dangerous. So, while there’s no shame in relapsing, we should do our best to prevent it. There are several ways to do this. 

  1. Identify triggers. Certain people, environments, and feelings can trigger cravings — leading to relapse. Identifying our triggers helps us avoid them or develop strategies to work through them. Keeping a log of our feelings and habits can help us identify our triggers. 
  2. Have alternative coping mechanisms. Alcohol misuse can often become a coping mechanism. When quitting drinking, identifying alternative coping mechanisms can help us avoid alcohol. Healthy coping mechanisms can include exercise, creative expression, mindfulness practices, giving back, and spirituality.
  3. Manage stress. Stress is a common factor that can exacerbate individual triggers. Managing stress through deep breathing, meditation, movement, and getting adequate rest reduces emotional triggers that can increase the risk of relapse.
  4. Practice self-care. Self-care helps us improve our health and overall well-being. Practicing self-care also serves to remind us to avoid unhealthy behaviors such as drinking. 
  5. Find purpose. Finding purpose in our life encourages us to focus on positive short- and long-term goals — and not give brain space to intrusive thoughts of drinking.

That said, if we relapse, there’s no need to end our journey to sobriety. There are some steps we can take to work through it. 

Tips for Overcoming Relapse in Recovery

Relapses are undoubtedly one of the toughest experiences in recovery. While it may feel like we’ve failed, it’s important to remember that the journey to sobriety isn’t always a straight line. Here are some tips to help us overcome relapses:

  • Understand the recovery process. Understanding how AUD changes the way our brain works helps us approach relapses more compassionately. While recovery requires self-honesty, it also requires self-compassion for us to learn and move on.
  • Reach out for support. Relapse can be dangerous as it can lead to dependence and result in alcohol poisoning and long-term health consequences. Reaching out for support immediately can help us get back on track as quickly as possible — limiting relapse to just a minor setback. 
  • Remember our “why.” A major component of overcoming relapse is moving on. Remembering the reason why we’ve committed to sobriety can reinvigorate our motivation to push through in recovery. We can then take the lessons we’ve learned and apply them moving forward to prevent future relapses. 

Stars like Affleck remind us that relapses can happen to any one of us. Despite the hiccups, we can continue to move forward on the road to recovery.

The Sobering Truth

While Ben Affleck may not have wanted the details of his struggles with (AUD) and recovery to be open to public scrutiny, his story brings awareness to a commonly stigmatized experience of recovery — relapse. Despite multiple relapses in Affleck’s journey, he committed to recovery and remains sober today. Although setbacks in our journey can feel like failure, we too can get back up and try again. As Affleck said in his 2013 Oscars speech when he accepted the Best Picture award for Argo, “It doesn’t matter how you get knocked down in life, because that’s gonna happen. All that matters is you gotta get up.”

Summary FAQs

1. Is Ben Affleck an alcoholic?

Ben Affleck is recovering from alcohol use disorder (AUD).

2. Did Ben Affleck drink while working?

Drinking on set is common in the film industry, but Affleck says he did not drink on the job. 

3. Did Ben Affleck attend a rehab program?

Yes, Ben Affleck publicly announced his participation in rehab programs on two different occasions. 

4. Why did Ben Affleck relapse?

Relapse is not uncommon in recovery from alcohol use disorder. Affleck has shared that genetics and environmental factors such as stress may have contributed to his relapse.

5. What do I do if I relapse in recovery from alcohol use disorder?

Understand that relapse is a common experience in recovery and that it isn’t the end of the road. Reach out for support immediately to continue on the journey.

Avoid Relapse With Reframe!

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet millions of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol. 

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app today!

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