Addiction is a war that requires constant vigilance — and, sadly, Ben Affleck seems to have suffered a sobriety setback in his ongoing battle to overcome alcoholism. In new video footage obtained by TMZ, the actor-slash-director appears to stumble and have trouble walking while leaving his hotel on Saturday night. If Affleck did slip up, it would be particularly heartbreaking considering mere hours earlier he had addressed being sober for a full year.
In TMZ’s footage, Affleck can be seen outside of La Peer Hotel in West Hollywood, reportedly leaving to head to the UNICEF Masquerade Ball. He wears a dark suit with a skull mask over his face and, after stopping for a moment to speak to someone, he stumbles backward slightly. Using the SUV behind him to steady himself, Affleck walks to another waiting SUV and gets in. In response to the video, a friend of Affleck’s told People, “Sobriety is different and elusive for everyone struggling with addiction. Ben has acknowledged he’s going to slip up from time to time. It was never as if this was simply behind him.”
When Affleck shared last October that he’d completed a 40-day stint in rehab, he alluded to the endless nature of addiction. “Battling any addiction is a lifelong and difficult struggle,” he admitted. “Because of that, one is never really in or out of treatment. It is a full-time commitment. I am fighting for myself and my family.”
Hours prior to Affleck’s apparent slip-up, he acknowledged having been in recovery for over a year by sharing social media posts dedicated to recovery group The Midnight Mission. “I have been in recovery for over a year and part of that is helping out others,” he wrote, continuing, “I am making a donation today because there are people battling addiction every day that don’t have the resources and need help.”
So, seeing Affleck stumble in this way feels somehow especially tragic. But anyone who has fought addiction themselves or loved someone with an addiction is painfully aware of just how true Affleck’s words about the ongoing fight against addiction are. Substance abuse disorder is a chronic disease that impairs the brain in many important ways.
Why would Affleck risk everything for one night of possible drunken debauchery? According to Harvard Medical, an addicted person has deficits in the function of the prefrontal cortex that impair their ability to stop using or to say no to the substance. It isn’t all biology, though, because overcoming addiction means developing psychological skills to help them deny their cravings. In other words, it isn’t an easy thing to overcome — and it requires a lifelong commitment.
Given Affleck’s long history with alcoholism, this (if he was, in fact, inebriated) may not be his last setback. However, the fact that he was able to stay sober for an entire year bodes well for his future recovery. It’s unclear at this point if he’ll be returning to rehab.