While the Real Housewives series have long been associated with copious amounts of social drinking, three of the women from the Bravo reality universe are opening up about their issues with alcoholism.
In a frank discussion with Glamour Magazine published on Thursday, The Real Housewives Of New York’s Leah McSweeney and Vanderpump Rules’ Lala Kent joined Real Housewife of Orange County Braunwyn Windham-Burke to talk about the very real struggles when it comes to getting sober while in the spotlight of a hit reality show.
The piece comes after Windham-Burke, 42, called herself an alcoholic in a candid passage of the RHOC season 15 premiere of the show this week.
Candid: In a frank discussion on Thursday, Leah McSweeney and Lala Kent joined RHOC’s Braunwyn Windham-Burke (pictured) to talk about the struggles of getting sober
Braunwyn, a mother of seven, told Glamour: ‘If you look at the footage of the premiere, you can see my hands shaking because I knew if I said, “I’m an alcoholic,” I couldn’t take it back.’
‘When I first got sober, I was scared I wouldn’t be fun anymore, that my life was going to be boring,’ she continued.
‘I really thought alcohol made life enjoyable, and that’s sad. Now, nine months later, I realize that’s not at all true.
‘Honestly, I dance even more now because I can stay awake,’ Windham-Burke added. ‘I sometimes used to pass out at like, 7 p.m. because I had been drinking all day. So yeah, I actually have way more fun now!’
‘When I first got sober, I was scared I wouldn’t be fun anymore, that my life was going to be boring,’ Braunwyn said
And like she said on Wednesday night’s RHOC season premiere, Braunwyn told Glamour that she’d been drinking since she was 14, and has ‘never had a healthy relationship with alcohol.’
She went on to explain: ‘When I drank, I drank until I blacked out or got sick. But I never drank when I was pregnant or nursing—and in many ways, I think that probably saved my life. I went to a meeting when I lived in Miami, but instead of sticking to a program, I just got pregnant. I have seven kids, so that’s a huge chunk of my life that I was sober—or I should say, not drinking. Now I realize there’s a difference between not drinking and being sober, for me.’
Windham-Burke also said she has been sober for seven years, but of course fell off the wagon last year when she began filming Real Housewives.
Like she said on Wednesday night’s RHOC season premiere: Braunwyn told Glamour that she’d been drinking since she was 14, and has ‘never had a healthy relationship with alcohol’
‘When I would watch the show, there were some scenes I had no recollection of,’ she remarked.
Braunwyn also discussed her highly-publicized bender in Miami for RHOC co-star Kelly Dodd’s now-husband Rick Leventhal’s birthday, which is where she reached a turning point.
Realizing how bad her drinking had become, she reached out to a famously sober reality TV personality.
‘I knew Captain Sandy [of Below Deck: Mediterranean] was sober for like, 30 years, so I called Leah [her girlfriend] and asked if I could speak with Captain Sandy.
Mother of seven: Windham-Burke said she has been sober for seven years prior to beginning her stint on The Real Housewives
‘We talked for an hour, during which time I told her what I was dealing with and asked if I could do this [getting sober] on film. She said, “Absolutely, but you need to own it on the show. You need to be accountable, otherwise you’re going to drink again,”‘ Windham-Burke continued.
‘Before I could change my mind, I called my producer and said, “This is the truth: I’m an alcoholic. I have been for many years, and I need to get sober. Let’s tell this story.” Five days later, we started filming.’
As for McSweeney, 38, she revealed her own sobriety journey with a photo of her three-months-sober chip in June.
As for McSweeney: She revealed her own sobriety journey with a photo of her three-months-sober chip in June; seen here at BravoCon 2019
Discussing her mid-20s, Leah said, ‘I was drinking to the point of blacking out all the time, and there was no controlling it. I was trying to. That’s the scary part, when you’re like, “I’m only going to have a glass of wine tonight. I’m going to just wear my Uggs out because I’m not going anywhere.” And then you end up at [New York City nightclub] The Box until five in the morning.’
McSweeney had stopped drinking in November 2009, but that ended when she joined The Real Housewives Of New York City this year.
‘I started drinking again six months before filming,’ she remarked. ‘At one point, before we started the show, I thought, I should probably stop again because the last thing I need to be doing is getting drunk on TV. But I wasn’t ready to stop yet.’
‘Watching the show was really interesting because I didn’t realize how much I carry around the teenage Leah with me,’ she said, of seeing herself drunk on camera.
Trying her best: McSweeney had stopped drinking in November 2009, but that ended when she joined The Real Housewives Of New York City this year; seen on Instagram
‘There were times when I was acting out, and I thought, “Oh, my God, Leah! You’re an adult now—you have a child, you’re a mom, you’re a businesswoman.”‘
Leah has now turned the page, and is again working on her sobriety.
‘I’m a public figure now,’ she observed. ‘That’s bizarre! I can’t get blackout drunk and act a fool without getting written up in Page Six. That’s not what I want my legacy to be at all. I don’t want to have a disaster story that ends in an explosive car crash. I want my life to be a great story. Some of that’s out of my control, but some of it is, like not drinking.’
And as for Kent, 30, her sobriety journey reached the two-year-mark this past April.
Of that journey, she said, ‘I had tried to stop drinking many times. Once I finally came to the conclusion that I can’t do this by myself, and that alcohol is more powerful than me, I knew I needed to go to AA.
And as for Kent: Her sobriety journey reached the two-year-mark this past April; seen here last june in LA
‘When I arrived, I found a group of people who came from similar backgrounds as me, and I realized that alcoholism and addiction do not discriminate. For me, it’s important to talk about AA saving my life because I was one of those people who looked at the meetings and thought, “That looks like torture.” Once I went and was willing to put in the work, I benefited extremely from the program.
‘My generation doesn’t know how to have a good time unless they’re tripping on something,’ Lala added. ‘We’re living on Instagram. Nothing made me want to drink more than when I was looking at Instagram Stories, feeling like I had to keep up, or watching television where all these people were, like, drunk on yachts. That kind of life is a high you can’t reach, and it’s not real, but it adds to anxiety and depression. And what do people turn to when they’re stressed and having anxiety and depression? They turn to substances.’
Of the boozy brunches the Real Housewives are famous for, Lala observed that ‘a lot of the people on our network are drinking heavily,’ which is of course what helped her and her peers continue their own alcohol abuse.
‘My generation doesn’t know how to have a good time unless they’re tripping on something,’ Lala said; seen here with Scheana Marie in May 2017 in Los Angeles
And looking to the future, the Salt Lake City, Utah-born beauty said it’s all about moderation.
‘I’m not saying I don’t battle anxiety and depression still, but I have a clear frame of mind [about it]. There are many days where I think, “Do I want to do this forever? When I turn 60, can I have a glass of wine?” That’s when I call my sponsor, who is on speed dial, and I go through my phone and look at images of myself when I was drinking’, Lala said.
‘My eyes are glazed over. These are photos where I thought I looked awesome and sexy and posted them, or I look at videos and see that this person is gone. She’s vacant. It’s enough to make me never want to drink again.’
Looking to the future, the Salt Lake City, Utah-born beauty said it’s all about moderation: ‘I’m not saying I don’t battle anxiety and depression still, but I have a clear frame of mind [about it]’