Alaskan Bush People’s Matt Brown Opens Up About Rehab, Alcoholism

By Dorri Olds 07/13/16

The 33-year-old reality star felt conflicted about sharing his alcohol use issues with his family because of the stigma attached to alcoholism.

Alaskan Bush People’s Matt Brown Opens Up About Rehab, Alcoholism
Photo Discovery/YouTube

Matt Brown, star of the hit reality show Alaskan Bush People, recently opened up to People magazine about his issues with alcohol. After acknowledging his past habits of excessive drinking, Matt decided to take action. “I could see myself spiraling,” he said. Brown thought it was under control until recently, when he returned to boozing. “I started drinking lightly and then it got to be more and more. That’s when I saw the problem around the corner, and I didn’t want to be one of those guys.”

Alaskan Bush People, which has an audience of close to five million, follows mother Ami, father Bill, and their seven kids: sons Matt, Bam, Bear, Gabe, and Noah, and daughters Snowbird and Rain, who all live deep in the Alaskan wilderness. 

Brown told People that he felt conflicted about telling his family about his woes. “There was a shame for feeling weak. I didn’t want to tell them that,” he said. “But my family trusts each other. We don’t have secrets, so it made me feel that I was more of a bad guy.”

The maternal side of the Brown family has a history of alcoholism. Juneau Empire spoke to Brown’s mother Ami about her past. "I come from a family of alcoholism. My father was an alcoholic and it tore our family apart. Watching these things as a child, you learn from it. That is the reason why I don’t let them know where, physically, I am.”

Brown, who in 2013 was arrested for a DUI (PDF), described the negative effects that alcohol had on him over this past year. He found himself “more withdrawn” and “slower,” and said, “Things didn’t excite me the way they used to.”

During his month-long stay in rehab, Brown decided that he was not an alcoholic, though he still tended to abuse alcohol. Brown believes that he could handle moderate drinking but says he's ultimately fine with living a sober life. 

"I learned a lot about myself in those 35 days. I've turned my weakness into a strength," he told People. "In life, we all get lost every now and then and have to find our way back. Not everyone makes it back, and I'm happy to be one of those who did." 

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Dorri Olds is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in many publications including The New York Times, Marie Claire, Woman’s Day and several book anthologies. Find Dorri on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.