How Ben Affleck Found the Motivation to Get Sober

The actor’s family has been a key part of his inspiration.

Benya Clark
Apr 7 · 3 min read
Ben Affleck. Photo by Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Ben Affleck is one of the most famous celebrities in the world, and he’s also one of the most famously sober. Unfortunately, much of the coverage of his sobriety has focused on his relapses.

As a fellow recovering addict, I’m far more interested in his successes than in his slips. Most addicts I know, including myself, have stumbled at some point. The important thing is to keep trying — not to let a relapse turn into a permanent defeat.

So, what is it that kept Affleck working towards his recovery? In an interview last year with Diane Sawyer, the actor opened up about his motivation for staying sober.

Breaking the Family Cycle of Addiction

Like many alcoholics, Ben Affleck came from a family of addicts. His grandmother, aunt, and father all struggled with alcoholism.

When he was growing up, his father’s addiction left a strong impression on him. He told Diane Sawyer that his father “was drunk every day and that was just life. And as that got worse, that was really, really painful.”

Affleck experienced first-hand how bad it can be to grow up with an alcoholic father, but he turned this negative experience into inspiration for his own sobriety.

“I wish he had been sober during those formative years,” he told Sawyer, “but what he’s taught me is, how important it is for me to be sober now during these formative years for my kids.”

The reason that Affleck is so dedicated to sobriety — that he’s gone back to it again and again despite struggling — is because he wants to give his kids a better childhood than his own. This is incredible motivation to keep trying his best, even when things are hard.

Affleck elaborated: “I really don’t want my children to pay for my sins. Or, to be afraid for me. Which is one of the hard parts of being the child of an alcoholic.” He doesn’t want his children to have to be scared of what he’s going to do.

Because of his celebrity status, he has the added pressure of being in the public eye. He told Sawyer that he didn’t want his kids to have to worry about him being on TMZ, or showing up in their friends’ news feeds. This isn’t just a hypothetical concern — his previous relapse really was broadcast on television.

By staying sober, Affleck hopes to remove these fears from his children’s lives.

Impacting Others

Ben Affleck’s motivation highlights an important point for all addicts, whether we’re parents or not: our addictions impact more lives than just our own.

I have to admit that when I got sober four years ago, I did it for entirely selfish reasons. I was more concerned with my ballooning weight and the amount of money I was spending than with how my alcoholism affected anyone else.

I think that this mindset is common among alcoholics. Addicts tend to have very selfish attitudes.

However, since getting sober, I’ve learned to think more carefully about how my actions affect other people. My recovery hasn’t just been about improving my own life — it’s also about making amends, rebuilding relationships, and simply trying to be a nicer person.

I was a mean drunk. I wish I could change that, but I can’t, so instead I’m focused on being a nice recovering addict.

That’s also exactly the mentality that Affleck seems to be embracing.

Now that he’s sober, he told Sawyer that he’s been able to focus on being present in his kids’ lives. He knows that the pain a parent’s alcoholism causes to children “is not easily gotten past, not easily forgiven, not easily forgotten,” but says he’s now doing his “very, very best.”

Relapses happen, but they aren’t the end of the line. Affleck is focused on doing the best he can for his children now, despite any of his actions in the past. His attitude should be an inspiration to all recovering addicts.

Ben Affleck’s full interview with Diane Sawyer is available on ABC News’s official YouTube Channel: Part 1 and Part 2.

Exploring Sobriety

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Benya Clark

Written by

I’m a lawyer and teacher from North Carolina. I write about sobriety, mental health, running, and more. Buy me a “coffee” at ko-fi.com/benyaclark.

Exploring Sobriety

Reflections on life without alcohol.

Benya Clark

Written by

I’m a lawyer and teacher from North Carolina. I write about sobriety, mental health, running, and more. Buy me a “coffee” at ko-fi.com/benyaclark.

Exploring Sobriety

Reflections on life without alcohol.

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