“Alcohol ruined me financially and morally, broke my heart and the hearts of too many others. Even though it did this to me and it almost killed me and I haven’t touched a drop of it in 17 years, sometimes I wonder if I could get away with drinking now. I totally subscribe to the notion that alcoholism is a mental illness because thinking like that is clearly insane.”
~ Craig Ferguson, American on Purpose
Today, Craig Ferguson is known as a comedian, actor, writer, and television host, most famous for The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and, earlier in his career, The Drew Carey Show. Currently, he is enjoying success on History with his newest show, Join or Die with Craig Ferguson.
“I Was a Drunk, a Loser, and a Disaster of a Human Being”
But there was a time when he suffered greatly from the disease of alcoholism and drug addiction. In fact, his drinking was so bad that he would use cocaine just so he could drink more.
Things came to a frightening head on Christmas Morning, 1991. After a particularly bad all-night bender, Ferguson woke up in a black-out storeroom above a London pub, covered in his own urine and vomit.
At only 29 years old, he decided he couldn’t take it anymore. He made up his mind to walk the few blocks to the Tower Bridge, where he would commit suicide by jumping into the Thames River.
Ferguson recalls that day, saying, “I’m going to show them! I didn’t even know who they were, but I was going to show them!”
On his way out, he ran into the pub’s barman, who offered him a glass of sherry to celebrate Christmas Day. Ferguson ended up getting so drunk that he simply forgot to kill himself.
Years later, in an interview for Playboy, Ferguson talked about that glass of sherry. “I remember thinking even at the time, if alcohol taste this good and it feels this good, there’s probably something wrong with me.”
“From That Point on… It’s All a Bit Foggy”
For the next few weeks, Ferguson’s life was one big bender that he doesn’t really remember. On the day that he finally decided to get sober, Ferguson called an old friend who had managed to leave the pub scene and get sober.
According to Ferguson, he told his friend, “I need help.”
“I’ve been expecting this call,” said his friend, and he helped Ferguson get into rehab.
Craig Ferguson’s sober date is February 18, 1992.
“My Roommate in Rehab Was a 65-year-old Vicar”
Today, Ferguson does not pretend to be an expert on alcoholism – he concentrates on telling his own story. But from his perspective, he doesn’t believe the popular myth that alcoholism can be “cured” with a 28-day based rehab.
Ferguson believes that the best rehabs tell clients that their stay was only a beginning – that they have a chronic condition that they will need to manage for the rest of their lives.
“It’s Your Responsibility to Deal with the Condition That You Have”
Ferguson admits how widespread the problem of alcoholism is, saying that everyone in the world knows someone who is an alcoholic – a boss, a worker, a sibling, a parent, a spouse, etc.
He also realizes that alcoholism is not a problem that can be solved with money. For him, the only way he can continue to successfully deal with his addiction to alcohol is by finding other people who have had similar experiences and talking to them.
“I Don’t Have a Drinking Problem… I Have a THINKING Problem”
Today, with more than 24 years of sobriety, Ferguson maintains that does not advocate temperance. In fact, he says, unequivocally, that if he COULD drink, he WOULD. But he acknowledges, just as firmly, that he knows that he CAN’T.
In his own words, Ferguson says, “Certain types of people can’t drink. I’m one of them.”