Jon Hamm is an actor, director, and television producer, most widely known for playing the advertising executive Don Draper in the 7-season television show Mad Men. The character of Don Draper is a skilled communicator, who appears very suave and confident on the surface, but is facing trauma and worries from a deeply troubled past, and is often portrayed drinking heavily.
As with many gifted actors and artists, Hamm's acting may have been partly based on personal experience. A 2011 report from The Enquirer revealed that, although he avoids drinking on set, "when he's not working, he likes to cut loose with a drink or two... or more! By the end of night, he often seems blotto." His wild drinking ways even earned him the nickname "Hammered."
However, he did come to a point where he decided that enough was enough, and that his heavy drinking was not helpful. At one point, the actor expressed incredulity at people who admired the hard-drinking character Don Draper, telling Time that when people say they want to be like him, he responds, "'You want to be a miserable drunk?' I don't think you want to be anything like that guy....The actual guy's rotting from the inside and has to pull it together."
In a culture that often glamorizes drinking without showing the negative consequences of alcoholism, this reflects a reflecting level of honesty and self-awareness, tools that can be vital to a successful recovery.
In February of 2015, Jon stayed for 30 days at a hospital in Connecticut, where he was treated for alcohol addiction. At the beginning of treatment, his recovery was kept private and hidden from the media, with a spokesperson only saying that him and partner Jennifer Westerfeldt ask "for privacy and sensitivity going forward."
However, he has recently made the courageous decision to speak more openly about his addiction, and it is hoped that other people will be inspired to seek help by his story and example.
Speaking to the Australian TV Week, he said, "Life throws a lot at you sometimes and you have to deal with it as much as you can...that's why you have family and friends to help you." This indicates a positive attitude towards his early recovery, one that recognizes the deep challenges of sobriety, but is looking to the support of sober relationships to encourage him and help him find a way forward.
Even before seeking treatment for alcoholism, Jon Hamm struggled with and sought treatment for depression. In a 2010 interview with The Guardian, he said that he has struggled with mental illness, partly caused by the trauma of the divorce of his parents at two and death of his mother at ten.
When his father died at 20, he experienced a very deep clinical depression. "I was in bad shape," but added "I did do therapy and antidepressants for a brief period, which helped me." He told The Daily Mail that he "I didn't have any drive to get up and do anything. It was rough: it stinks...Other people who are better than me at putting thoughts into words describe it as a black cloud that descends on you. You become numb."
Sadly, Jon is not alone among people who have struggled with both depression and addiction. Many people who struggle with serious mood disorders struggle with substance abuse, either because drugs and alcohol can trigger or worsen feelings of depression, or can be used in a misguided attempt to self-medicate.
It is important for people struggling with this dual-diagnosis condition seek treatment for both issues simultaneously, as they are often deeply connected. We are very happy to hear about Jon Hamm's work towards his recovery, and hope that he continues to get the help he needs.