How Dry January Led Rumer Willis To Sobriety

By Kelly Burch 10/04/17
Even though she hasn’t needed to overcome the disease of addiction, Willis says that she is proud of her accomplishment.
Rumer Willis

Rumer Willis announced over the summer that she'd been sober for six months, but the actress says her sobriety is simply a lifestyle choice rather than a decision driven by addiction. 

“My decision to become sober wasn’t out of a need necessarily, it was more just that I did ‘sober January’ and I just decided to keep going,” the 29-year-old actress told People

When Willis posted to Instagram in July celebrating her sobriety, many people assumed that she was in recovery from addiction. However, she now tells People, “I wouldn’t consider saying I had a substance abuse problem by any means.”

She said that the reaction to her announcement tells a lot about our culture of drinking and how people think the only reason to give up substances is because of a disease. 

“I didn’t say I was sober from anything, I could have been sober from a food addiction or buying too many clothes or from relationships or whatever, but I think we’re in this culture where we naturally presume and assume,” she said. 

“Like I remember like there was this whole huge [Good Morning America] story that I’ve secretly struggled with this really intense addiction and how have I kept it hidden,” Willis said. “And I was like, ‘I’ve kept it hidden because there’s nothing [to hide.]’”

Even though she hasn’t needed to overcome the disease of addiction, Willis said that she is proud of her accomplishment. 

“I wanted to share this because I am really proud of myself. Yesterday I celebrated 6 Months of Sobriety. It’s not something I planned on but after the long journey of getting here I can honestly say I have never been more proud of myself in my entire life,” she wrote in the Instagram post from July. 

Willis, who is the daughter of actors Demi Moore and Bruce Willis, is doing interviews around her work on Empire. On the show her character is recently out of rehab and learning to live in sobriety.

“She… [is] exploring what sobriety is and figuring out who she is sober," Willis told Billboard in September. "She's also figuring out all the different aspects of her addiction and how it affects her and what it's like to make music sober, what sober life means and how all those things affect her life."  

Willis says that the role gave her the opportunity to explore our culture’s relationship with drugs and alcohol. 

“Regardless of whether you want to call yourself an addict or you have a problem, we live in a culture that kind of celebrates or encourages... especially on television, drinking when we’re sad or using drugs and alcohol as a mediator for feelings,” she said. “I know many people regardless of how they want to identify themselves... people who've used substances or food or shopping or men to numb their feelings.”

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.