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Lena Dunham Opens Up About Addiction and Rehab: ‘I Thought It Was the End of My Life’

At a recent benefit, Dunham also talked about how her prescription-pill dependency helped reframe her perception of what addictions look like.

Lena Dunham30th Annual Friendly House Awards Luncheon, Arrivals, The Beverly Hilton, Los Angeles, USA - 26 Oct 2019

Lena Dunham

Stewart Cook/Variety/Shutterstock

Lena Dunham has never been coy about publicly discussing her demons, from the body-image issues she mined in her HBO series “Girls,” to the sexual abuse she experienced while in college (as detailed in her 2014 memoir of essays “Not That Kind of Girl”), and, most recently, with her substance-abuse issues.

At a benefit for the Peggy Albrecht Friendly House treatment center for women, which took place at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles on Saturday, Dunham spoke about her battle with addiction in frank terms. Also joining Dunham at the event was veteran actress Demi Moore, who recently came forward about her own addiction issues, among other troubles, in her new memoir “Inside Out.”

“I thought drug addicts were depraved lunatics who wandered the streets, demanding crack from innocent children and flaunting their open wounds in public parks,” Dunham said. “And I was a successful, capable celebrity who wandered red carpets demanding attention and flaunting her open boobs on TV. It’s totally different,” she deadpanned, according to Variety, before taking the conversation into a more serious turn.

“When I was dropped off at rehab, I thought it was the end of my life,” she said. “Seemingly overnight, I had lost almost all of what I hold dear: My relationships, my body, and my career were in relative shambles. […] Even as a chronic over-sharer I lived in fear of anyone finding out. Will people still want to work with me, kiss me, hang out with me […] and would everything I’d ever done be viewed through the lens of addiction?” she recalled while at the luncheon benefit.

However, Dunham has found solace in recovery, and with “Girls” and her followup series “Camping” behind her, Dunham is back to work on a raft of upcoming projects, now that HBO has signed an exclusive deal with her production company, Good Thing Going, as announced back in August.

“Being me has sometimes hurt so much that I couldn’t bear it,” Dunham said at the benefit. “But being me is also a super-power, and it’s the same for all of you.” Dunham, who is now 18 months sober after wrestling with depression and dependency for years, is “living a life that’s beyond my wildest imagination. […] And I’ll put my money on sober women any day — because a woman who has overcome an addiction can do f—ing anything.”

Good Thing Going, along with Bad Wolf, produced “Industry,” HBO’s soon-to-come financial drama series, for which Dunham directed the pilot. Dunham is also producing the HBO Max dramedy “Generation” and directing that series’ pilot. Finally, as part of her HBO deal, she’s also working on a project for the network about the now pop culturally iconic Russian scam artist Anna Delve.

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