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Rumer Willis: Why She’s Decided to Stay Sober (And it’s Not Because of Addiction)

Staying Clean is a Big Deal and Recovery Birthdays Are Too

For recovering addicts and alcoholics, recovery birthdays are a big deal. And they should be. Why? Because staying sober is a big deal. When you’ve had to claw your way up from rock bottom, you celebrate every single day you’re able to stay off the pipe, the bottle, the needle. And, when you achieve a month, sixty days, or six whole months without using drugs or alcohol – well, that’s reason to throw a party in honor of your totally awesome recovering self! But, have you heard of anybody celebrating sobriety just because? Ever met someone rejoicing because they’re living the sober lifestyle without first suffering from the disease of addiction? Seriously, can you name one single person who honors recovery milestones even though they never had to admit powerlessness and unmanageability? We can. The name’s Willis. Rumer Willis.

Rumer Willis Announced Six Months of Sobriety in July and it Got People Talking

The 29-year-old actress from Fox’s hit television show Empire, Rumer Willis made a July post to Instagram that got people talking. You could say the rumor mill was buzzing about Rumer. Here’s what Willis’s post said: “I will be the first one to say I’m not perfect and I mess up sometimes and every once in a while I get it right but 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. Thank you all for the love and support and remember to be gentle with yourself.” Basically, sobriety has been one of the best decisions Willis has ever made. Since that cryptic post, people have been wondering (and whispering) about Willis’s sobriety. What was it? Crack? Heroin? Prescription opiates? Was she a drunk? Did she abuse meth? For goodness sakes, WHAT WAS IT? Because the Dancing With the Stars champion wasn’t talking, speculation about Willis’s recovery was widespread. There was Inquiring minds wanted to know just what addiction Willis was recovering from. The answer is…. nothing. Rumer Willis celebrated six months of sobriety recovering from nothing. Huh?

Staying Clean Just Because? Who Does Such a Thing?

It’s hard for a recovering addict to imagine staying clean just because. Almost every single one of us who has ever struggled with a substance abuse problem got clean and sober as a last resort. We tried everything else before we finally surrendered.  We tried only drinking alcohol or just smoking pot. We substituted one drug for another. We attempted to only use drugs on the weekend. We put forth a sincere effort to limit our drinking and drugging to special occasions, only to find out that every day that ended in “y” became a special occasion. Finally, after all else failed, we admitted that – unless we wanted to end up in an early grave or spend the rest of our lives in prison – we had no other choice but to stop using drugs and alcohol. For us, staying sober is a matter of life and death. Although sobriety is a choice we now have the privilege of making just for today, it’s one we made kicking and screaming in our early days of recovery. It might be kind of difficult to wrap your mind around Willis’s story, but her decision to stay clean is actually quite noble. The world could stand to learn a lot from Rumer Willis. She’s a trailblazer. If more people would follow Willis’s lead, the world would be a happier, safer, more sane place to live.

Rumer Willis Stays Sober for Dry January and Just Keeps on Going

After months of guessing, the world finally got an answer about Willis’s addiction problem. The truth is, Willis never had an addiction problem. In September, Willis cleared the air about the post. “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,” Willis told People Now in early October. “I didn’t really specify in my post, which wasn’t necessarily intentional, but I wouldn’t consider saying I had a substance abuse problem by any means, which I think people kind of take assumption to when you post something like that.” (More on “Sober January” in a few). Willis, daughter of famed actors Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, added that she could have been sober from anything – it didn’t have to be an addiction to alcohol or drugs. “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 or assume,” she said.

Willis’s Sobriety Has Helped Her Prepare for Her Role on Empire

Ironically, Willis’s decision to stay sober has better prepared her to play her role as Tory Ash on Empire. Willis made four guest appearances as Ash on Empire last season, but will have a much more prominent role on the show this year for the show’s fourth run. Ash is a sober singer trying to find her way as an artist without using drugs and alcohol. “She (Ash) 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.”

The Connection Between Rumer Willis and Amy Winehouse

When asked what sold Willis on Empire’s Tory Ash character, she had this to say, “I first fell in love when they said she was this kind of Amy Winehouse type and that was it for me. Amy Winehouse is pretty much my favorite artist of all time. I didn’t really need to know much more.” Knowing this about Willis sheds some light on her commitment to sobriety. Winehouse fell victim to her disease and ultimately lost her life to it. By staying away from drugs and alcohol, Willis is able to model positive behavior for her fans where Winehouse could not. Like the rest of us, she must have been devastated when Amy Winehouse died a premature death due to drug and alcohol addicted. They tried to make her go to rehab. She said no, no, no. How we wish she would have listened.

So, What is Sober January Anyway?

Willis mentioned that she decided to “do” Sober January and just keep going. If you’ve never heard of this alcohol awareness campaign, it’s actually quite amazing. Surprisingly enough, Sober January – actually referred to as “Dry January” – started with one woman. In January of 2011, Emily Robinson gave up drinking for a month to get motivated for a marathon run that following February. Her decision sparked conversation. Everybody she knew wanted to know what it was like to quit drinking for a month. Robinson shared with friends and family that it wasn’t as easy as she thought it would be. When she joined Alcohol Concern, a UK group dedicated to alcohol awareness, the organization was inspired by Robinson’s story. They decided to make Dry January its flagship campaign. After starting a website and social media campaign, more than five million Brits were committing to stay sober by the month of January in 2017. Now, Dry January is a worldwide phenomenon. Of those who participated in Dry January, 79 percent saved money, 62 percent slept better and had more energy, and 49 participants lost weight. Those are some excellent reasons to stay sober! Want to participate in Dry January in 2018? Download the Dry January App.

Why Not Follow in Rumer’s Footsteps and Stay Sober for the Next Six Months

Rumer Willis is an inspiration to us all. Although she does not suffer from the disease of addiction, she stands to be a strong advocate for sobriety in the years to come if she continues to stay committed to staying away from drugs and alcohol. Maybe if more Hollywood actors followed in the footsteps of Rumer Willis, we’d see less people die from the disease of addiction. We need more role models to show the world that it’s cool to be sober. Whether you have six hours, six months, or six years of sobriety, why not make the commitment now to stay sober for the next six months?  Be like Rumer and stay sober. Not because you have to or because anybody is making you. Stay sober just because.