LIFESTYLE

Behind The Scenes, Patrick Swayze, Hollywood’s 'Sexiest Man Alive' Struggled With Alcohol Addiction

Date November 15, 2018 16:52

For most of us, Patrick Swayze, the star of the blockbuster 80s film Dirty Dancing, was the sexiest man in Hollywood. From his easy on-screen charm, his perfect body, and his seamless dancing shape, Swayze could make any woman drool with no effort, a power that made him a cinema staple for most.

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However, behind the scenes, Swayze faced the biggest battle of his life as he struggled with alcohol addiction, a problem that almost brought his marriage to an end.

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Loss of close family members led to alcohol abuse

Swayze’s struggle with alcohol, however, began with the death of close members of his family. In 1994, Swayze lost his sister, Vicky, to suicide. Her death shook him to the core, as he felt that he should have done more for her.

Moreover, his sister’s death hit Swayze pretty hard, as he had also lost his father a couple of years before. For the actor, the loss of the closest members of his family was too much to bear as he was brought to desperation. To normalize the trauma, the star actor turned to alcohol to escape his problems, a decision that changed his future forever.

Alcohol almost ended his marriage

Recently, Lisa Niemi, Swayze’s wife of 34 years, opened up about her husband’s addition through her memoir, Worth Fighting For, where she details the actor's struggle with alcohol addiction.

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For Niemi, seeing the love of her life fall victim to addiction was heartbreaking, since while she could not live without him, she also feared for her own life. His wife remembers that:

He had a different personality when he drank that much. He was the nicest man on the planet unless he'd had a drink.

For Niemi, alcohol addiction transformed her beloved husband into a different being, as he would get violent with anything or anyone around him. At one point, she was so fearful for her life that she left in the middle of the night, a decision that forced Swayze to seek help and change.

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Swayze turned his life around after seeking help

While the couple reunited after a one-year break, they faced more challenges when Swayze was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer in 2008.

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Immediately after the diagnosis, Swayze said, “I’m a dead man.” Despite the gloom over him, Swayze never gave up on life as he embarked on treatment, renewed his wedding vows, and even made The Beast, a TV show where he was the main protagonist.

According to his wife Niemi, after the cancer diagnosis, Swayze became even better as a person as he was: 

Kinder, more loving, and really became the man he knew he wanted to be.

Despite his illness, Swayze found new meaning in life and love as he became a better version of himself without addiction.

Alcohol addiction and how to overcome it

While it receives less attention than other diseases, it is clear that alcohol addiction or alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a serious problem that greatly affects families in America. Statistics show that at least 95% of Americans do not seek treatment despite struggling with alcoholism, a fact that creates negative impacts for them and their families.

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However, the condition can be salvaged through treatment. Several popular avenues for treatment include alcohol detox, rehab, counseling, and government treatment. For those undergoing the process, completion is supplemented with maintenance, where one can join groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, to find encouragement and support to stay sober.

For Lisa Niemi, who is currently married to Albert DePrisco, alcohol addiction has the power to end careers and break marriages, as it causes heartbreak and pain to loved ones. However, with proper help and a determination to change, the problem can be kicked for good.

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