Alcohol Addiction: Learning from Jessica Simpson’s Struggle

This January, singer Jessica Simpson surprised fans by revealing that she was sober after years of self-medicating with alcohol in times of stress. Simultaneously announcing the release of her memoir, Open Book, she added that the book would cover both her battle with alcohol addiction and her road to recovery.

In an interview with The Today Show’s Hoda Kotb, she said, “I had started a spiral and I couldn’t catch up with myself.” Every day, she told herself she’d stop “soon.”

This is a feeling many people can relate to. As a celebrity, Jessica has a unique platform to touch and inspire millions of people around the world. By sharing her personal struggle, Jessica is letting others dealing with alcohol and substance abuse know that they’re not alone. Her story might also inspire people to reexamine their own drinking behavior and ask themselves: Do I have an alcohol addiction?

Self-Medicating with Alcohol

People develop alcohol abuse issues because they’re attempting to treat a deeper problem. Jessica disclosed that she was sexually abused as a child, and also cites her anxiety as a reason for her reliance on alcohol.

According to AAC, about half of all people who suffer from a serious mental illness will also struggle with substance abuse in their lifetime. This is usually because the mental illness causes a great deal of stress and interferes with a person’s ability to enjoy daily life.

These are common reasons people self-medicate:

  • Stress and anxiety. Alcohol releases endorphins into the brain, which can make you feel more relaxed and confident. This can temporarily alleviate stress or anxiety.
  • Schizophrenia. Those suffering from the serious psychotic episodes caused by schizophrenia often attempt to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. People with this condition abuse alcohol and marijuana at a rate three times higher than that of the general population.
  • Depression. Symptoms of depression include restlessness, difficulty concentrating, decreased interest in activities, insomnia and lower energy. Disorders like depression are often caused by certain parts of the brain being overactive, and alcohol can soothe these nerve firings. It also stimulates the reward system of the brain, temporarily easing some unpleasant psychological symptoms.
  • Bipolar Disorder. Roughly 6 million individuals in the United States are diagnosed as bipolar. This disorder involves drastic, unpredictable mood swings. People with bipolar disorder have a higher risk of developing a dependence on alcohol, but drinking alcohol to manage bipolar disorder symptoms is very dangerous and can actually exacerbate the illness.

Despite its temporary benefits, self-medicating can quickly create a new problem: alcohol addiction.

Recognizing Alcohol Addiction

Recognizing alcohol addiction isn’t always as simple as it seems. Jessica, a mother of three, says she always had a glitter cup “filled to the rim with alcohol” in hand. She even appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show noticeably intoxicated, which led her loved ones to stage an intervention – but she wouldn’t stop drinking until months later when she finally realized her substance abuse was costing her precious memories with her family.

How do you know you’re addicted to alcohol? Harvard Health Publishing  warns to watch out for these signs of alcohol dependency:

  • Drinking more than planned
  • Continuing to drink despite negative consequences
  • Frequent failed attempts to quit drinking
  • Building tolerance and drinking more to feel the same effects
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms or blackouts
  • Preoccupation with alcohol
  • Increased aggression
  • Difficulty functioning at work
  • Drinking alone, to sleep, or to deal with stress

If any of the above symptoms sound familiar, it may be time to seek professional help.

It took Jessica a long time, but she realized she needed help when she required alcohol to get through the day. Like many celebrities, Jessica lives and works in Los Angeles – and when you’re searching for addiction treatment in Los Angeles, you’ve got options.

Treating Alcoholism

Many associate Los Angeles life with sunshine, fitness, and super-healthy diets, but alcohol is also a very pervasive part of this Southern California scene. Countless bars, clubs, and events that last long past sunrise mean the opportunities for drinking in Los Angeles are truly endless.

Luckily, Los Angeles also boasts some of the best substance abuse rehab facilities in the country – and for every public figure who opens up about fighting addiction, the stigma lessens and it becomes easier for others to seek help. After Jessica got sober in November 2017, she described it like this: “I found direction and that was to walk straight ahead with no fear.” She now undergoes therapy twice per week.

About Cliffside Malibu

If Jessica Simpson’s story has inspired you to take control of your own alcohol addiction, give us a call. We can help you find the right path to recovery based on your own individual needs.

Since no two addictions are the same, Cliffside Malibu offers an individualized treatment plan for every client. We are committed to providing evidence-based treatment through a continuum of care model including medically supervised detox, residential treatment, day treatment, and outpatient services. Our program also includes family therapy and holistic therapy, as well. Whether an individual is suffering from substance abuse and/or alcohol addiction, our programs are structured to create a supportive environment where healing can begin.

In addition to world-class treatment, Cliffside Malibu offers luxury accommodations, a serene environment, five-star dining, and plentiful amenities. We understand that addiction treatment is a rigorous process. Therefore, we provide for your comfort and relaxation at every turn, allowing you to rejuvenate, and meet the demands of treatment with your greatest energy and attention.

For more information on Cliffside Malibu, visit