Lena Dunham Reveals Sobriety After Misusing Medication And Asks Others How They Heal

"I thought medication was allowing me to be more myself."

Lena Dunham is known for her candor. Furthermore, she does not shy away from being vulnerable in her acting, writing, or on social media. She has talked about things including undergoing a hysterectomy at 31and what it means to pass the nine-month anniversary of the procedure, to dealing with endometriosis pain.


The actress continuously promotes mental health awareness, self-love, and body positivity. In a recent interview with Dax Shepard's Armchair Expert podcast, she opened up about battling anxiety and PTSD.

She also revealed that she is six-months sober after misusing anti-anxiety medication.

It appears that the news was not something Dunham fully intended to talk about beforehand. In an Instagram post promoting the episode, she wrote. "Guess what y'all? I'm on @armchairexppod today with this legend of mental health advocacy and killer fatherhood! I talk about some pretty real [and very] sensitive stuff that I didn't plan to discuss, but @daxshepard is such a warm and loving super dude that I kinda had no choice. Do me a favor and listen to the pod and lemme know if you relate?"

That being said, she is upfront about the discussion. Dunham admitted to "misusing" benzodiazepines, specifically Klonopin, which she originally thought to treat her anxiety. The drug is used to "control seizures in epilepsy and for the treatment of panic disorder."

"I was having crazy anxiety and having to show up for things that I didn’t feel equipped to show up for," the "Girls" creator reflected. "But, I know I need to do it, and when I take a Klonopin, I can do it."

Dunham explains that her life started to feel like a large panic attack with her anxiety (which she has dealt with since childhood) being compounded with a PTSD diagnosis, sexual trauma, her hysterectomy and other medical procedures.

"It stopped being, 'I take one when I fly,' and it started being like, 'I take one when I'm awake,' " she admitted.

The multi-hyphenate recognized that the pills were not treating the root of the problem and they were negatively impacting her relationships. She also thought that because they were prescribed by a doctor, it wasn't a pressing issue.

Dunham admits to misusing the pills for three years before undergoing a difficult detox. Now, six-months sober, she is able to reflect.

"I thought medication was allowing me to be more myself," she stated.

"I can see all of the things that the world [brought] upon me. I don't blame myself for my illness; I don't blame myself for the sexual abuse I experienced; I don't blame myself for the physical abuse I experienced; I don't blame myself for the challenges of being a woman in this world, and an anxious woman in this world, and living in this body." 

"But, I do see the way that I medicated myself, negatively impacted people around me, and decimated my decision making and hurt my creativity. So, I just feel, literally, like, on my knees grateful every single day."

The post has generated a discussion on Instagram with people thanking Dunham for opening up. Plus, her story is inspiring others to share their own.

"Thank you for talking about this. I'm a medical sociologist and professor. I teach about 'benzo' abuse regularly and having someone in a prominent position discuss this openly is incredibly important," a professor stated. "We have normalized 'benzo' use and I certainly acknowledge the usefulness (as you so aptly discusses [sic]) but as a scholar I am working to disentangle what the normalization means for young adults today (especially in our stressed out culture). Anyway, thank you!"

"This was so inspiring. Thank you for being so vulnerable with your PTSD and mental health issues," said another Instagram user. "In some way it made me feel like it is okay that I am embracing mine instead of trying to shove them down."

One Instagrammer revealed "that I may unknowingly be suffering from a Benzo dependency" after listening to the podcast.

Prior to revealing her sobriety story, Dunham shared an Instagram post about healing and encouraged others to share how they heal.

"This is a post about healing 🙏 Some of us are healing physically. Some of us are healing from loss. Some of us need to heal because we are scared, because people we love and people we identify with and people we could very well be are under attack and it is a fog that doesn't really lift. Here I am healing my mind & hands & ❤️ by making sculpy beads with some of my very best friends in my pajamas. Yes I used a mold but I am pretty proud of the direction (cc: queen of kook @meganomullally) and it looks like a necklace is in my future and maybe even danglers... Also, plz swipe to see the clay Lisa Rinna that @cawillia made... So, how do you heal?"

Dunham's story follows celebrities including Chrissy Teigen, Pete Davidson, Frances Bean Cobain, and Eliza Dushku as well as other people opening up about their addiction struggles. Their stories show that addiction can take many forms and impact anyone, but there is help and people can get treatment.

If you or a loved one are looking for help with substance abuse, there are numerous ways of reaching out. Check out the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at its website or call 1-800-662-HELP. In addition, there are more resources to fit an individual's particular need found here.

(H/T: InStyle)

Cover image: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.com 


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