Selma Blair Reveals How She Got Sober After She Started Drinking at 7
THE CRUEL INTENTIONS STAR OPENS UP ABOUT HER DECADES-LONG BATTLE WITH ALCOHOLISM.
Best known for her roles in Cruel Intentions, Legally Blonde, and more recently, American Crime Story, Selma Blair has been living in the public eye since the 1990s. But her forthcoming memoir, Mean Baby—out on May 17—makes one thing clear: Despite being a household name for nearly three decades, her public persona tells only a small fraction of her story.
Blair, who suffers from multiple sclerosis (MS) and has been open in the past about her journey through alcoholism and recovery, now shares that her struggle with addiction began when she was just seven years old. She's also shedding light on the traumas that made drinking such an appealing escape. Read on to learn what pushed Blair to finally get sober and why she considers herself "a living miracle."
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Blair began drinking when she was just "a little kid."
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Blair's first experiences with alcohol came at an extraordinarily young age, when she was just in elementary school. While speaking with Savannah Guthrie for Today, the actor shared that she first got drunk at the age of seven, but had tried alcohol when she was "much younger." In an excerpt of her memoir (via People) the star opened up about her first encounters with alcohol, describing them as both "a revelation" and "a comfort."
"I always liked Passover. As I took small sips of the Manischewitz I was allowed throughout the seder a light flooded through me, filling me up with the warmth of God," Blair writes in her book. "But the year I was seven, when we basically had Manischewitz on tap and no one was paying attention to my consumption level, I put it together: the feeling was not God but fermentation. I thought 'Well this is a huge disappointment, but since it turns out I can get the warmth of the Lord from a bottle, thank God there's one right here.' I got drunk that night. Very drunk. Eventually, I was put in my sister Katie's bed with her. In the morning, I didn't remember how I'd gotten there."
These early experiences would pave the way for a decades-long battle with alcoholism. "The desire to drink as much as I could, as often as I could, stayed with me and did not let me go for more than 20 years," she told Guthrie.
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She says she used alcohol to cope with a series of traumas in her life.
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As Blair became a teenager and later a young adult, her relationship with alcohol became even more complicated. The star says she used drinking to cope with a series of traumas she endured during that period, including multiple sexual assaults.
Blair says it was only while writing her memoir that she realized just how heavily those encounters weighed on her. "Writing [about the assaults] stopped me dead in my tracks," she told People. "My sense of trauma was bigger than I knew. I did not realize that assault was so central in my life. I had so much shame and blame. I'm grateful I felt safe enough to put it on the page. And then I can work on it with a therapist and with other writing, and really relieve that burden of shame on myself."
Reflecting on her 20-year relationship with alcoholism, she said: "It was hard. I don't know. But maybe it was easier. Maybe I never would have survived without a drink."
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Blair has now been sober for almost six years.
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In 2016, Blair resolved to get sober after a shocking and widely reported incident on an international flight. The actor was rushed to the hospital on a stretcher after reportedly taking a combination of prescription medications and alcohol and having what she later described as "a total psychotic blackout." Her son, Arthur—then four years old—was with her on the flight.
When asked by Guthrie what pushed her to quit drinking, she answered: "Public humiliation and the thing that made me really stop drinking was that I could've died on that plane. I mean, now that I was a mother, it just changed everything," she said.
Two years after her last drink, she penned a thoughtful reflection on her sobriety, which she shared via Instagram. "Two years sober. Two years feeling everything and nothing. Two years of extreme gratitude and humility and grace," she wrote. "I thank the lord and my friends… I prayed for a miracle at my lowest points. I am a living miracle."
She's now focused on moving forward—without guilt and shame.
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Today, the Hellboy star has made massive strides in reclaiming her life after recovery. "It's gone from me," she told Guthrie, referencing her reliance on alcohol as a crutch. "I'm not cocky about it. You have to always be vigilant. But it's really gone," she said.
The key to her progress is acceptance, the star says. "There's no real room for guilt in moving forward. There isn't. Guilt keeps secrets, and it's scared, and there's not much I feel ashamed of anymore because it just happened," she told Guthrie. "I'm really, really happy to be able to walk into this space of empowerment and realize I am a calm and stable grown-up… I'm OK, even though I've not always been," she said.
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